Desperate Texans

It’s common knowledge (at least I think it is) that Texas doesn’t really experience four proper seasons. We get an eternal summer (from about April through August September October) and then maybe two or three weeks of what would traditionally be considered Fall. Then we move straight into Winter and emerge on the other side for a few weeks of Spring. So you can’t really blame us for celebrating when we get a random “cold” snap a week into October. It’s 2:30 here and only 68 degrees out. When we woke up this morning it was in the upper 40’s!! Grab the jackets!

Now, bear in mind that it will be 75 before the end of the day. Plus, the sun is shining, so there’s no longer a chill in the air. So that’s why I laughed to myself when I saw a woman exiting Target earlier in jeans, boots, a long sleeve (white) tee, and a vest. Was she overdressed? Hell yeah. Was I gonna blame her for relishing in weather more fitting of October? Nope. You do you, Han Solo girl. You do you.

Speaking of clothing, why is it so challenging to find an outfit for photos?

I’ve finally decided on a location for our photos and now I’m trying to plan coordinating outfits. The guys are easy (oh thank heavens). I’m putting them in jeans and either dark gray or light pink button downs. Luffy is fully outfitted already and I have already found the shirt for the dumpling, I’m just waiting to purchase until I decide which color route I’m going. But for me? Ack. I can’t seem to find anything suitable.

Maybe my expectations are too high? I want it to look timeless (which strikes out practically every trendy top out there right now because, no, I don’t want to look like I’m on my way to Coachella). I want it to be flattering, especially since I’m still carrying an extra pound or two and would prefer not to focus on that in every frame. It also must be somewhat dressy because it has to stand up to the button downs. I’m also leaning towards a jewel tone, or something that will add some color to my skin tone (my olive complexion can leave me a bit washed out looking in my go-to shades-of-gray wardrobe).  A sweater would be a perfect option here, except that I am not a sweater person and, thus, do not have a sweater on-hand. And it’s not sweater weather yet, here in Texas (see above), so stores aren’t really carrying them. Buying online is always an option but because this has to fit my petite frame perfectly (re: flattering and timeless!), it’s a bit harder to pull off.

So yeah, that’s my current gripe. I’m critically eyeing my closet every time I go in there for inspiration as the date of our pictures draws closer (two weeks out!). Meanwhile, I also have nothing to wear to my brother’s wedding in a week and a half, although I’ve already secured flawless attire for the men in my life. (Credit where credit’s due: my husband is a groomsman so my brother technically procured his tux choice. Plus, my brother’s the one who found the dumpling’s bow tie and suspenders. So yeah. On second thought, I haven’t done much at all.)

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Madness lies that way

Oh internet, I cannot tell a lie….

I’ve got babies on the brain. Specifically, little dumpling v2.

CUE GASP

I know! That’s insane! But there it is.

I think it’s because the dumpling is about to have his very first birthday. We’re in this wonderful place right now where we’re just so freaking happy. The dumpling is adorable and learning new things at a ridiculous pace*. Our routine is becoming smoother and smoother. We still have bedtime struggles and random meltdowns, but I guess Luffy and I are just better at handling them? Or at least accepting that they are part of parenting an infant OMG toddler. And so I’ve been looking back at the early, early pictures of the dumpling. When he was mere days old instead of months. And all I can see is how tiny he was and how much he needed us (as opposed to the round-the-clock nursing and twenty diaper changes a day and how even getting him dressed for the day was a challenge because he hated being naked — good job, self, compartmentalizing all this!).

Plus, it doesn’t help that I am once again surrounded (in the social media-sense) by babies. My cousin is due with her first baby early next week. A friend from high school went into labor over the weekend (too soon, baby was born weighing a little over three pounds – omg she’s so tiny!!!!). Another friend from my first job is pregnant and living it up glamorously while travelling. Another friend from my exercise gig is also pregnant – and with a boy! One of Luffy’s best friends is expecting. So many babies!!

So then I start to do the math of if we start trying now and if I get pregnant then and the dumpling will be x age when his sibling arrives and that’s just no good self! Madness lies that way. Having a newborn was hard and I can only imagine that having two children – one newborn and one fully-fledged toddler – would be even harder. But then I think about cute little photos of the dumpling with his sibling. And even cuter images arise because his daycare teachers keep telling me that he likes to help them with the babies in his class – he pats their backs to help them sleep and helps the teachers tilt their bottles. And – STOP IT SELF. 

While on the one hand, I’d sort of love to just do it. Get it over with, in a sense, and by “it” I mean the newborn days. There was a cloud over the dumpling’s newborn days of OMG I will have to do all of this again, nooooooooooo!!! that would be lifted for his sibling’s newborn days. We’re pretty sure that we only want two children, so if we do it now, then we’ll be done with the newborn days forever! I mean, it can only go up from here right?! (lolz, please don’t answer that)

On the other hand though, there are plenty of things that I want to savor right now. The dumpling’s rapid fire milestones, for one. My body and how it’s pretty much back to being all mine for the first time since January 2016 actually even before that since we started trying so long ago. It’s nice not to be worried about ovulation tests and pregnancy tests and other ways my body was/is failing. I’m really working on losing the last couple of pounds, although I feel fairly comfortable with how I look and feel now. Also, [TMI alert:] I’m enjoying a sex life with Luffy again that doesn’t revolve around procreation – woot woot! I forgot how fun this actually is when it’s not scheduled or timed or honey take your pants off because I just peed and this stick says I’m ovulating.

Luffy’s plan is for us to wait until the dumpling is closer to three years old. Not to start trying, but to actually have a sibling, so we’d start trying about this time next year. And really, that seems like a good plan. Calm yoself, self. 

*Seriously! With the ridiculous pace! So I’ve had three types of sippy cups since the dumpling was about 6mo old. One with a spout, one with a straw, and one of those nifty 360 cups. I quickly decided against introducing the spout one because of recommendations from the AAP (short story: spouts are bad for mouth and oral development). So! The straw and 360 cups! No big thang. Except that the dumpling had no idea how to drink from a straw. He did catch on to the 360 cup and he loooooves drinking water from a regular cup (with me holding it, of course), but he’s never caught on to the straw. I’d try to show him how and then hand it to him, but he’d always just play with it.

Then, yesterday, I was looking for advice on how to teach your baby how to drink from a straw. One mom said she wasn’t going to be any help because she always used a straw for her cup and her baby was just naturally curious. Hmmm! I don’t use straws around the dumpling, so I thought that might be better than me showing him on his cup. After all, that’s how he learned to drink from a regular cup – by watching me. So last night during his dinner, I used a straw to drink from my cup. I didn’t make a big show of it or anything, just pointedly took several big sips from my cup + straw. After dinner, when we sat down to play, what do you think the dumpling wanted to do? That’s right, drink from my cup + straw. So I let him, and he sucked some water right down! So I passed him his own sippy + straw and off he went! He’s now a certified straw user! I’m printing up his certificate now!

And wow, that was a lot of words to basically say my kid finally figured out how to use a straw. Woo!

A random collection

…. of thoughts:


I was ridiculously pleased with myself yesterday because I remembered a random 1-800 number that my coworker needed. Off the top of my head. Without prepping. Look who’s brain is working just fine now!


So, I don’t want to alarm anyone, but the dumpling’s first birthday is a mere 22 days away. Twenty-two. I also have no idea how this has happened, but I’ve already started some preparations. Namely, I’ve decided that now’s the time for some family photos.

I know that maternity and newborn photo shoots are all the rage these days, but I did not have them done. Re: maternity shots – I just couldn’t imagine a bunch of photos centered around my gigantic belly. I thought these were like the engagement photos of the wedding photo set. Nice in theory and good to have for announcements and stuff, but probably something you don’t ever look back on once your “real” event comes around. As far as the newborn shots – I couldn’t imagine coordinating such an event. How on earth was I supposed to get a newborn out of the house, along with myself and my husband – in photo-quality clothing/appearance no less?! Plus – glances around furtively for eavesdroppers – don’t take this the wrong way, but I think all newborns look the same, more or less. And they’re not even that cute. CUE GASP. I know! I know! That’s a terrible thought, but it’s so true. The dumpling looked alarmingly similar to a grumpy, old Chinese man for the first several weeks of his life. Why would I want to memorialize that on our walls?

But now? When I have more brain-capacity and time to decide on and acquire outfits for everyone? When I have the patience to supervise haircuts and (my own) make-up efforts? When the dumpling no longer looks like this and instead looks a little like this? Sure! I mean, I’m still pulling my hair out in effort and I haven’t even finalized where we’re taking these pictures. But I have hired a photographer. So baby steps.


In other news, I am adulting all over the place this week. After putting off several mundane things, I had a fit of productivity last week. I had the garage door serviced this morning due to a thunk situation that seemed to be getting worse (although, OF COURSE, it was no longer making the thunk when the repairman arrived, because of course). I’m going in for my annual check-up with my PCP tomorrow (which means I’ll also be getting my flu shot!). I’m going to the optometrist to replace the glasses that I’ve disliked since ….. oh about four minutes after I paid for them. They cost too much though, to go replacing them just because, so I’ve waited. I’ve had them for about two and a half years now (I think? maybe? years are starting to sort of blur together), so it’s time.

I also de-cluttered the office this weekend by filing shit important documents away and also stumbled across a random cat-pee area. Which I cleaned. Go me.


Speaking of the weekend – I had one for the history books. I went shopping for jeans. With the dumpling in tow. That’s right! Please send me medals and certificates to commemorate this accomplishment.

It honestly wasn’t too bad (mostly because I miraculously found exactly what I was looking for in the first round of try-ons). The dumpling was remarkably entertained in the dressing room by the mirror and he only tried to crawl out like twice. So win! Especially nice since the dress I ordered for my brother’s wedding this month came in and, though extremely beautiful and beyond perfect for the occasion and my tastes, did not fit AT ALL. Scratch that. It was worse than just completely not fitting. I mean, I could zip it up and on the surface it looked good. It was little stuff like the mesh shoulders were technically too long so it didn’t lay correctly and the zipper gave me a weird upper butt situation. So like, it fit and looked great if you squinted and I stood about 25 feet away from you. Wah wah.


I’m feeling a touch under the weather today and I firmly blame my office’s air conditioning. It was freezing in the office yesterday, which meant my nose ran the whole day and I kept my space heater on. I think the cold air plus post-nasal drip plus dry space heater air just exacerbated whatever crap I had going on.


I’m trying to meal plan this week. When Luffy and I first started dating (and into our engagement and marriage), we were awesome about cooking dinners. We kept things pretty simple, but we cooked dinner at least five times a week. We had been on a slow decline from that, but I think things really took a nosedive when I got pregnant. Especially during the first trimester, I’d get home from work absolutely beat and the mere thought of cooking just wiped me out. We resorted to eating out a lot, or “meals” that required no cooking like PB&J’s or cheese and crackers. So now our week is honestly more like eating out five times and cooking once or twice.

I hit my limit last week when I reached the place where I was bored with eating out and the fact that we never know what we’re going to eat for dinner until like 8pm. I think this is our downfall. I used to be so good at thinking about dinner beforehand (do I need to get anything out of the freezer? what do I need to purchase at the grocery store this week? etc) and now I’m just like, oh right, there’s another meal that goes here. I take most of the blame too because I quickly realized that if I didn’t specifically plan for dinner (no thawing chicken in the fridge or slow-cooker ready to go), we’d eat out. So in my third-trimester laziness I would just “forget” to plan something and voila! No cooking required of me!

Anyway, I’m starting slow this week. Nothing too crazy or complicated, but if all goes according to plan, we’ll be making dinner at least three times this week and that’s already an improvement!

Office Perks

It has been an exciting week around here. And I mean that in a sarcastic sense. Luffy’s been ridiculously busy at work, the dumpling has been working on mobility, and I… well I’ve just been trying to make sure we all the leave the house with pants on*.

One of my coworkers (the only other female professional at our firm) is leaving. There are no hard feelings, just life and opportunities and little things like seeing her husband everyday are taking her away from the DFW area. Apparently, I paved the way for her as our partners actually entertained talks of her telecommuting. It’s been going well with me, so they were willing to give it a shot for her. That’s not going to happen (for a few reasons), but I was a little proud to have laid the groundwork.

Now that I’ve been working from home part time for over six months now, I can tell you that there are a few perks to working from an office that get overlooked:

  • Regularly interacting with humans who don’t require you to change their diaper. 10/10 would recommend. The dumpling’s not at home with me during the day, but then again, neither is anyone else. I highly recommend getting out of the house on occasion to go talk to other adults.
  • Free air conditioning. I know that we all complain that our offices are meat lockers (because I could have started an icicle farm there yesterday), but in the midst of a warm and muggy summer, free air conditioning ain’t a bad deal. If I want my home office cooler, I have to pay for it. One other perk of ridiculously cold offices: mosquito bites and poison ivy rashes get numbed by the cold. Things are much itchier at home.
  • Free snacks and drinks. The snacks part is really not that great because it just further delays me from my weight loss goals. However, the drinks part! My office stocks Le Croix in four flavors, diet Coke and Dr. Pepper, and assorted sodas, coffee, and teas. My home office stocks none of this and I blame the lazy office admin around here. Getting her to do anything is like pulling teeth.
  • Killing time with coworkers. Re: number one up there. Working from home has made me realize just how much time is wasted each day by simply talking with coworkers. There’s no idle chitchat at my home office. At my other office though, stopping by to ask a question could veer off into a thirty minute conversation about driving pet peeves. True story.
  • Seriously, getting to know your coworkers. I know half of these involve them, but it’s so true. There really is not idle chitchat between myself and my coworkers when I’m not there. So all of those little tidbits you pick up (John is thinking about backpacking through Europe next year) and life story arcs (Joe is buying a house), you don’t get any of that when you don’t physically work in the same place. The female coworker I mentioned above, she started a week or so before I went on maternity leave, so I really haven’t physically worked next to her for long. I realized yesterday that I have no idea what her husband does for a living – not even remotely (like I know Will’s wife is a teacher). No clue.
  • Getting ready in the morning. Now I admit that part of this is just a given now that I have a child (and will always and forever at-least-for-the-next-18-years be actively trying to get another person ready in the morning as well). I don’t take time to get ready anymore, and part of “getting ready” is self-care. For instance, I don’t put on my moisturizer very much any more. It has SPF 30 in it and means that I go without sunblock on my face for a good portion of the week now. Tsk tsk. I don’t put on nice clothes very much anymore – it’s all shorts and t-shirts. Which is great! Comfortable! Easy! Except that most people take me a lot more seriously in my work attire. In shorts and a tee, I look like a college student (at best).
  • Diet control. I know! I know. You’re thinking, Belle, what does working in an office have to do with your diet??? Peer pressure, my friends. Peer pressure and planned meals. You see, at the office, the only food I have available to me is the food I brought (which means I thought about it and purposefully packed so totes healthy) and the aforementioned office snacks. I have set myself up at the office as being the healthy eater. If anyone wants to lose weight, I 100% recommend doing this because now I feel like EVERYONE watches what I eat. Someone is always bound to mention it if I’m not eating broccoli that day (because I always eat broccoli). If we are celebrating a birthday with cake, someone will always make a joke that they’re gonna have cake while I eat my yogurt (which then means I feel soooo guilty even thinking about taking a piece of cake). Seriously – coworker expectations plus my own guilt equals the best diet around. At my home office though, not only is there no one around to watch me eat a second or third handful of chips, I am also in close proximity to my fridge and pantry and all the delicious things in them.

In looking back over my list here, the biggest thing is my coworkers. It all boils down to being very isolated while working from home. It’s something you don’t really think about when drooling over the prospect of working from home, but there it is. I think the half and half deal I have going on right now is pretty perfect, the best of both worlds, if I may bust out the cliches on you. Just enough time at the office to interact and connect with my peers and just enough time away to actually enjoy my life.

* Ok, confession time. The dumpling doesn’t ever leave the house in pants, that poor baby. In my defense, this is the one time in his life where it’s perfectly acceptable for him to appear in public sans pants and I want him to enjoy it to the fullest.

Never fear!

It was negative. Whew.

My original speculation was correct – hormonal weirdness – anovulation – Clomid to conceive hypothetical second baby. Check – check – check.

And that’s all we’ll say on the matter, moving on.


I’m taking the dumpling in to the pediatrician’s office this morning to have his iron levels rechecked. I, um, am not very optimistic that his levels are going to be any better than they were last time. He has thwarted me in all attempts at getting that stupid supplement into his mouth and down the hatch. He even hated the smoothie I made for him — with banana! One of his favorites!! I plan on asking for tips because I am tapped out.


I got bangs! Again! Woo!

To explain, I had bangs all through college basically. I think I look pretty good with bangs (I have a long, empty forehead and my hair just sort of naturally seems suited for bangs). Anyway, had them for a while and then decided to grow them out for our wedding. (I had a birdcage veil and thought that the line of the short veil plus the line of my bangs wasn’t a great combination. Plus, we all know that bangs are a wildcard and, on a day that they needed to be absolutely perfect [I did my own hair], I didn’t want to risk it.) (Parenthesis!!) So I grew them out and that, of course, took forever. So then I thought I needed to stick with the no-bangs look for a while and then I got tired of it and chopped my hair off again.

And now that I write that out, it’s not at all as interesting as it is in my head, so I’m sorry about that. But I’ll leave it because the dumpling is waking up and it’s time to head to the pediatrician’s office! Happy Friday!

Life thoughts while pumping

I’m currently sitting in the only conference room in my office without windows (actually, it’s the only space in my office without windows period). I’m on my second pump of the day and thought it might be fun to present a few thoughts I have while pumping. It’s like Belle Live!, only post-pregnancy.

I will never get over how weird it is to take my shirt off at work. 

[Puts on hands-free pumping bra and fires up the trusty Medela…]

I mean, my shirt AND bra are off. At work! So weird. 

My boobs are technically covered at least, should someone stumble in. Mostly covered. 

I like when I remember to wear a pumping friendly outfit – a tank and cardigan – that way I get the most coverage even with my boobs out. 

Ugh. I can hear my (male) coworkers talking outside of my room. That makes being shirtless even weirder. 

(Shirtless at work!)

I wonder if they can hear my pump. 

[Tries not to think about coworkers anymore lest this whole situation feel even more awkward.]

At least I can play on my phone in here. Pumping pre-smart-phone days must have been super boring. 

I bet that’s how men feel about going to the bathroom pre-smart-phone days. Why must they always be in there for like half an hour?

[Checks latest game]

All right, got my tasks done – feed ALL the farm animals!!

Ugh, I need to pee. I always forget to pee before I take my shirt off. And it’s not like I’m going to put my shirt back on just to pee. 

Honestly, that’s the worst part about this pumping business – taking my shirt off a hundred times a day. Or, you know, like three times, but it feels like a hundred times. 

And forget about wearing a dress! Like I’m gonna sit in this room naked. I would freeze. Plus, can you even imagine how weird it would be???

(Naked at work!)

[Massaging breasts which is really just fancy talk for moving the flanges around]

I always like when the milk spurts with enough force to hear as it hits the back of the flange. Much better than the slow dribble. 

My boobs are really uneven. I hope they even up after I stop nursing. 

Speaking of, what am I going to do with myself when I stop pumping?! I’m going to have so much free time!!

I could take up a hobby!

And quit timing my meals!

And quit timing my caffeine consumption!

Plus! No more taking my damn shirt off a million times a day!!

Ahhhh, a girl can dream. Only four more months. 

Or I could always switch to formula. 

But then I’d miss nursing on the weekends. Plus nursing’s just so easy. 

I will not say free, cause my time is worth a lot. (So there, imaginary argumentative naysayer!)

I mean, I’m hooked up to this pump three times a day for 25+ minutes a session, five days a week. That’s a lot of time!

Ok, but seriously, how much longer for this session??

[Checks timer]

Argh! At least another five minutes. 

I seriously envy the ladies who can pump in like 15 minutes. 

Or the ladies who can just pump once for every bottle. 

Or the ones who still meet the demands of their babies!

Seriously, I spend so much time hooked up to the pump and I STILL don’t collect enough. 

Must. Stop. These. Thoughts. 

[Pulls up baby photos. Again.]

My baby sure is cute. 

Ugh. Coworkers outside of my room again. Just chatting it up. 

I should join in on their conversation one day. Just like yell through the wall. That would be hilarious. 

I wouldn’t even have to yell because I can obviously hear them just fine and they’re not yelling.

On second thought, nevermind. I mean, what if this led them to realize they could talk with me through the wall and then they started asking my questions while pumping???

Cause that would be even more awkward than sitting here shirtless. 

[Checks timer. Again.]

25 minutes!! Oh thank you!!

And fin.

Blind as a bat

I’m sitting in my cubicle today, partially mostly blind because of a contact snafu that started back on Saturday night. (Also, I really do mean the mostly blind part, so please ignore any typos!)

Saturday night, the dumpling woke up soon after Luffy and I went to bed. I blearily made my way to his room and was halfway through nursing him when I realized that my right eye was bugging me. I thought there was an eyelash in it, perhaps, but didn’t want to keep rubbing my eye. After the dumpling finished, I returned him to his crib and made my way back to bed and sleep – desperate to close my eyes and let mother nature take care of the annoying eyelash.

I awoke Sunday morning quite sure that I was coming down with something. Sore throat. Check. Congested sinuses. Check. Watery eyes. Check. I moaned and tried to flop over to go to sleep again when I realized that my eyes weren’t just watery, they were swollen and painful. It hurt to open them. It hurt to close them. I feared that I was having another allergic reaction. (I’ve actually had several subsequent reactions, but they haven’t been as severe as that first one.) I finally gave up on trying to get back to sleep and stumbled into the bathroom to examine my poor eyeballs. They were extremely swollen and red and watery and hmmmm, what’s that little line there?? …. I am an idiot. Upon closer examination, I realized that I had completely forgotten to take out my contacts the night before.

WTH Belle? How could I have completely forgotten that I had perfect vision as I climbed into bed the night before? Or when I got the dumpling for his nursing session? To make matters even more ridiculous, I’d had two separate dreams that night about something being in my eye, like, I don’t know, my subconscious was trying to alert me of how idiotic I was being. Good grief. Way to make life hard for yourself.

Anyway, I took them out immediately and felt relief almost instantly (and then succumbed to food poisoning, but at least my eyes felt better).

So fast forward to today. Today is the first time I’ve attempted to wear contacts since then. They felt perfectly fine when I put them in this morning (and in the hour I wore them around the house before leaving). On the drive in to work however, things started to go downhill. Something must have happened to them; they almost feel warped now. I have astigmatisms, which mean that I have weighted contacts to hold the lenses in a certain position. It’s not working now so they’re slipping everywhere. Plus the left one keeps getting caught on my eyelid and dragged upwards or off to the side. It was driving me bonkers, so I pulled it out, thinking surely I could make it a day with only one contact (especially since I removed only the left, which is technically my stronger eye).

HAHAHAHAHA.

Yeah no. Blind, am I.

I am sitting a foot away from my computer screen and yet, I can’t read these words. I mean, I can, because I know what I’m writing. So my brain fills it all in (funny how we can do that right? like those little paragraphs that point out that we don’t actually need the letters in the correct order to be able to read a passage). But if I actually want to bring the letters into focus, I have to get closer.

Eh, a little closer.

There we go.

I am literally six inches from my screen. I brought my ruler out and everything.

So if you need me, I’ll be here. Nose to pixel with the monitor.