Weekend Recap

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Happy 4th of July!

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

[Ahem.]

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

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

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

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

Chop Chop Now Y’all

Guys. I did it. I finally gathered the courage and moxie to cut my hair off. All of it. Chop chop. I am now the proud sporter of a pixie cut, very similar to this. And I am loving it.

I’ve thought about a pixie cut for years, wondering if I could pull it off. Even back in college, I was curious. The most I managed to do was a pretty short bob, about a half inch above my jaw line. My boyfriend at the time made sure that I knew I looked like a boy and that he much preferred long hair. I didn’t really give a crap about his preferences regarding female hair, but the comment about looking like a boy stung. It eroded any confidence I had in the look and guaranteed that I never went shorter. (I will say, with some pride, that I still frequently sported bobs when I was with him, despite his preferences. A little bit of resistance against my controller.)

But still, every year when I inevitably got tired of long-ish hair and made the appointment to go short, pixie thoughts would pop into my brain. I never took the plunge, but still, they were there. When I made my appointment this time, I didn’t think it would be any different. I figured I would go in and cut it about chin length and go about my merry way.  Then, Sunday evening, manic took hold of me. I googled pixie good or bad and what to know before you get a pixie cut and pixie cuts in image results. I saved ideas. I read articles. I browsed Reddit. I researched cuts for face shape. I discovered that my particular face shape is well suited for a pixie cut. And I decided. Chop chop.

My stylist was super excited when I told her what I wanted. My hair was mid-shoulder blade length, so this was a drastic difference. I had a moment of panic, sitting in the chair as a I watched her cut the sides (wow, that is VERY short), but all in all I handled it well. I had worried that I would have an immediate gut reaction of hate when she was done. After all, I’ve been looking at myself with hair for a very long time. This new cut was/is far shorter than I have ever attempted. I needn’t have worried though because I was already in love, even before it was dry and styled. It really is a great look on me and I think it suits my face particularly well.

I headed to Ulta as soon as I was done to pick up some new product on my stylist’s recommendation – an awesome volumizing powder and a pomade. I showered and washed my hair last night under the guise of getting the hair remnants off my neck, but really I wanted to test two things: how well it air dried and how it would look in the morning after sleeping on it. I am VERY excited to say that it air dried perfectly well (though, in the interest of full disclosure, I will likely still blow dry it if I need it looking super polished). I am even more excited to report that for the first time in my life I actually have hair that I can spend five minutes styling in the morning and go. Shampooing and blow drying are no longer essential to looking barely passable at work. I can get up and go and it is fantastic! A quick spritz of water this morning rectified any bedhead and my volumizing powder brought my look from passable to cute AF.

So yeah, I love it. I’m so excited and I really can’t see myself going back to longer hair any time soon.

In other news

My office is moving next month. (Not my home office, though that would be a pretty swanky way of telling you guys that we’re moving. tucks away line for future use) Very long story short, we’re moving into one of the towering skyscrapers downtown. We are currently in a modest office tower, just twenty stories tall or so, and we’re moving into a much higher floor. We got to tour it yesterday and it’s really nice. I’m looking forward to new views and a new space.

I’ll be interested to see what sort of tenants are in the new building. It’s very stately, with a lot of law offices, which probably means slacks and low heels. Our current building has “creative” tenants (think magazines and PR firms) which means bright tops and high heels. I usually feel dowdy as I walk into the office, surrounded by smartly dressed women in their on-trend heels and skinny jeans. I try to dress well, but I tend to buy classic pieces that I can wear for years rather than a trendy top that will be dated by next season. My style suits me, I think, but I can’t help but feel wistful for the cold-shoulder dresses and flouncy tops as they go strolling past me.

As I mentioned, we visited the new space yesterday. It’s a few blocks away, so we all gathered at 3pm to walk down there. I ….. misjudged yesterday morning and chose to wear heels. That was a mistake. The walk down was fine, but then we all stood around for 45 minutes in a warm-ish office (the AC is on for construction, but set to like 78 which feels especially warm in business attire) and then we walked back in the 100 degree, 70% humidity afternoon sunlight. My feet were not pleased with me. I’m sporting about five new blisters, one of which even required bandaging for me to teach class after work. I had it coming to me though as two people commented on my heels and asked if my feet were hurting and I smugly proclaimed them to be fine as each woman shook her head and admitted to not being able to wear heels that long anymore. Hangs head in shame. Me either, apparently.

Memorial Day 2018

Whew! We made it! We took our first road trip with the dumpling and we all survived. We had to break a few rules and we did deal with one round of puke, but yay! WE DID IT!

In all seriousness though, I am very grateful Luffy agreed to make the trip down to hill country Texas for my mini family reunion. In the end, my grandparents really only got to say hi to the dumpling, but it made their day. They hadn’t had the opportunity to meet him. Plus I got to catch up with my cousins and their children, so that was a lot of fun. We compared notes Sunday morning on how our respective children handled the night in the hotel room and our parents marveled over how it felt for their kids to have kids now. Weren’t we just in diapers and swim floaties like last summer?

We were there for less than 24 hours, but it was so wonderful to see everyone. We introduced the dumpling to the swimming pool and taught him how to kick his little legs (from his perch on the pool steps) and splash people (mainly my brother [his target] and my mom [an innocent bystander since he didn’t quite understand how to aim his splashing]). We also found a nearby neighborhood playground that he got to romp through. He also took full advantage of the VAY-CAY-TION!!! rules around food and had snacks on snacks on snacks.

To round out our holiday weekend, we spent yesterday afternoon in the backyard with his kiddy pool and bubbles. I managed to distract him enough to get him to wear a pair of sandals for the occasion (have I told you guys that I bought a couple of new pairs of shoes for him at Target that he has flat out refused to wear? because if anyone has ideas on how to convince a toddler that new shoes are not the devil, I’m all ears) and I laughed over his enormous swim trunks. He definitely had a little booty showing at the end, that poor, skinny dumpling.

I’m looking into water activity tables now because I discovered a great solution for all of those little ow-si??? inquiries when it’s 1,000 degrees outside and I don’t want to take his wagon for a walk around the block. A shady backyard and water activities are where it’s at!

Speaking of ow-si? I have to say that my favorite story from the road trip itself is sitting in the back with the dumpling and having to field the ow-si?? question as he’s forlornly pointing out the car window. No, my sweet baby, we can’t go outside. We’re driving. Ow-si?? I know it’s right there, but we’re driving, we can’t go outside. Ow-si?? We can’t go outside; I know you’re bored. All dun. I know you’re all done baby, but we’re not there yet. All dun. We’re still driving my sweet boy. All dun. If it makes you feel any better, mama and dada are all dun too.

Polishing up the home, pt 4

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Well then

Five days… that’s how long a viral stomach bug could last. Five days. Well then.

So this story starts way back on Friday. Ahhh, Friday morning, when we were blissfully unaware of what lay ahead of us. The dumpling woke up around 5:30, which is a little unusual for him (as of late anyway). I wanted to lay in bed, but Luffy prompted me to go try to nurse him back to sleep. After all, we were already a wake. So I got up and went to the dumpling, immediately smelling something foul when I opened his door. Oh, he pooped, I thought to myself, that’s why he woke up. This upped our odds of successfully returning him to his crib, so yay! I changed him and sat down to nurse. He was at it for about five minutes when he sat back from me and – urp – all the milk. All over us. Well then.

I called to Luffy and officially got everyone up for the day. We changed, I stripped my nursing pillow (and would later clean the chair and the carpet). The dumpling and I nursed again and then took a shower to clean off completely. Luffy and I watched him closely but he was just as happy as ever. He ate breakfast with us. I took him to daycare because he seemed perfectly content. Of course, you know where this is headed, so you already know I got a call at 11:30. The dumpling had vomited there again.

I merrily went off to pick him up. (I’m not a monster – I say merrily because I was procrastinating all work related matters and having a sick baby was the perfect excuse to chill with the dumpling all day instead of work – score!) He took a nice long nap when he got home and nursed plenty. He, again, seemed perfectly fine. Whew! The worst is behind us, I thought to myself, as I reviewed our pediatrician’s website which cited 24 hours of vomiting for a stomach bug. Saturday passed, as we did our best to care for our little recovering dumpling. Small, frequent meals. Easy on the solids. Lots of nursing. But also lots of playing and snuggles and books. Sunday morning, the dumpling got up like normal, starting nursing for breakfast and, in a moment of deja vu, – urp – all the milk. All over us. Well then.

I won’t regal you with each and every incident. Let’s just say that I think our high chair is cleaner now than on the day we bought it and that all of our clean-up towels have been washed at least twice this weekend. Every time we thought he was doing better, he’d turn around and get sick. When he vomited yet again yesterday morning, I finally called the pediatrician. I just wanted to know if I should bring him in. He had been vomiting twice a day, every other day, for five days. Halp?

And that’s when she told me that, unfortunately, some viral cases can be more stubborn than others and that five days would be expected. Well shit.

So yeah, that was fun. I mean, I say “was” very carefully because he could still vomit more. Oh god no, please don’t. If that happens, the pediatrician wants to see him immediately, but I’m really hoping it doesn’t come to that. I really, really want him to feel better.

He’s been a dream, of course. That was probably the oddest thing through all of this – he was perfectly happy pretty much the whole time. Talkative. Figuring out how to crawl. Playing with toys. Perhaps a little more cranky than usual, but that can be attributed to the disruption in his routine (he’s been home with me since Friday). He was so happy to go back to daycare today. Couldn’t wait to get down, out of my arms, so that he could play with his toys.

Yesterday was a stark reminder of why I would never be able to cut it as a stay at home mom. (And if you say I should cut myself some slack because I was dealing with a sick baby, I’d like to read the paragraph preceding this one again. The dumpling was acting perfectly normal.) Yesterday morning was fun and good as we played and read books. But then, he didn’t nap well. By 3:00, he’d napped a total of 50 minutes since he’d gotten up that morning at 5:30. So he was a little cranky and a touch dramatic and prone to bursting into tears for no discernible reason. (Seriously! He’d be playing with a toy and just burst into tears… maybe the toy wasn’t the right color suddenly?? The sun* and moon out of alignment? The ambient temperature wrong? Who knows!) He took a bit better nap, late in the day, but I must say that I was MORE than ready for bedtime. The entire day was just exhausting and I was so ready for some me time.

Anyway, the dumpling is back at daycare today, as previously mentioned and I keep freaking out every time my phone beeps or vibrates or lights up because I so badly want him to do well today. My poor baby.

*We did see the eclipse Monday! We watched it on TV since our area didn’t have totality. It did get darker here, which was pretty cool and also hella disorienting.