In pursuit of a coat

Let me preface this post by explaining that I’m not much of a shopper, especially clothes shopping. I really, really don’t like it. Is that shirt going to look better on me than the hanger? What size should I get in this? Does this color complement my skin tone? Is this supposed to fit like this or is it just too big? Is this a piece that I can mix-and-match within my own wardrobe? WHO KNOWS. I certainly don’t. I’ve never been able to waltz into a store, pinpoint a few fantastic purchases and sashay away.

But what I especially hate? When you need something specific. I talked about trying to find a dress for my brother’s wedding, but I didn’t go into much detail. It all started about six weeks before the event. I just happened to spot (which is the best way to find things!) a perfect dress. It was the color I wanted (navy), it was a style I loved (sophisticated yet sexy), it had sparkle, it was short, it was my size. It was perfection. The only downside was that I found it online, at a second-hand site (which was actually a decisive pro at first because a $380 dress for $60? Don’t mind if I do!). I could barely contain my excitement when the package arrived. Of course, if you read what I linked to earlier, you know that it didn’t work out. It fit, as in I could zip it up, but it did not fit my body at all. Weird bunching at the zipper and the torso section was too long.

Not a problem! I just sent it back and started perusing the same site for wedding dress v2. I searched and searched and waited for my return to be processed (the free return option only gives you the ability to get store credit which is fine, it’s what I wanted, I just needed my return processed so that I could apply those funds to the new dress). I found a second dress! Not quite the color I wanted (gray this time), but it was by a favorite brand of mine and it was embellished like I enjoy. In a moment of suspense, the dress was unavailable for a period of time (reserved in someone’s cart*) but then became available again. Whew! The moment my return was processed and my funds were available, I snapped up the second dress.

My only issue now was that the wedding was less than a ten days way. The dress v2 wasn’t slated for delivery until the Wednesday before the wedding – what if it didn’t fit either? So, I sucked it up and went to the mall (which, ugh, I haven’t been to a mall in ages and they are really sort of sad) in pursuit of a dress. I went to my go-to for cocktail dresses – Dillard’s – but I could already spot trouble. My brand of choice for cocktail dresses (BCBG) had absolutely nothing I wanted. So I moved on to the regular dress section and encountered my first (second? third? millionth?) problem – all of the dresses in the women’s section were too large to fit me off the rack. However, none of the junior’s dresses provided the sort of support I needed (now that I have breastfed a child, I totally get it when bra makers talk about shaping and structure). I found one dress I liked, but it literally was like the kitchen sink of dresses (short! full skirt! flower print! two piece! lace! sequins! a bow! let’s just bedazzle the heck out of this poor piece of fabric! wheeeeee!!!!!!). After I had been there for, no lie, two freaking hours trying on dress after dress after dress, I finally grabbed a dress that I had initially spotted and dismissed because it was sure to be too large. Let’s just say that it is the tiniest size 6 I have ever encountered. (To be fair, it’s a junior’s size 5/6 but seriously, it fits like second skin.)

So ANYWAY. I bought the dress (I actually bought it and the kitchen sink dress because I think I can at least take off the bow thing, and then it will be super cute and sort of mostly appropriate for a 30-year-old**). And I am so glad I did because when the dress I bought from the second-hand store arrived, it was laughably huge on me. Just enormous. I didn’t even hesitate to send it back. Again.

All of this is an illustration of the horrible, terrible fact that if you absolutely need to find something, you will not be able to find it. I think it’s just guaranteed that you will only ever be able to find amazing items (you know, the ones that fit you perfectly and complement your shape and color and look effortless) if you are NOT looking. Next time, I’ll try to con the universe by pretending to shop for a swimsuit instead of jeans.

I’ve dealt with this a lot recently – from the wedding dress to my hunt for a the perfect outfit to photograph. And this time of year always brings it up because every year I convince myself that I would love a pair of boots. And every year I search high and low for a pair of boots. And EVERY. YEAR. I do not find a pair of boots. I do not own a pair of boots and yet I swear I have been searching for a pair of boots for the last five years.

And now I have another dilemma: I want a new jacket. I have a fleece jacket, for the casual look. I have a beautiful wool coat for the (few) bitterly cold days. I have a gorgeous rain jacket for bridging the in-between (or for those times on the weekend when I want to look more put-together than a gray fleece jacket from Target). The problem is that the rain jacket isn’t really warm. Cute! Functional! But warm, no. So I’m trying to find something that (a) looks a touch classier than your average fleece zip-up, (b) is not as buttoned-up as a wool coat, (c) looks good on me, and (d) is warm, but like Texas-winter warm (ie – I do not need it to be cold rated to -30, lololololz). Is that too much to ask? Should I lower my bar? Ugh, tell me now. Perhaps I should have started looking in the summer.

*Interesting side-story. The second-hand site allows you to mark items as “favorites” so that you can quickly view them again. It reserves items in a basket for 24 hours and marks them unavailable for you, but you can still view them. So it allowed me to sort of follow along as some other girl out there, with a taste and size similar to mine, also shopped for a cocktail dress. The black one (I assume) she ended up choosing was cute, although I think she should have risked it for the pink Kate Spade number.

** That’s right folks! As of TODAY I am 30. Oye. Where does the time go?

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First Birthday Party

We had the dumpling’s first birthday party this weekend!

It was such a whirlwind weekend that it’s honestly hard to re-cap. I spent a lot of time cleaning our house (nothing like a house full of guests as motivation to get the house spic and span!). I baked the cake layers on Saturday. These turned out beautifully (I followed Smitten Kitchen’s recipe for confetti cake!) and went into the freezer to be frosted the next day.

Sunday morning passed in a haze of oh we have plenty of time to prep to OMG THE PARTY STARTS IN FIFTEEN MINUTES AND WE STILL DON’T HAVE A FULLY FROSTED CAKE!!! So that was fun and stressful. But the party itself was fantastic! We had friends and family there, including two kids just a few months older than the dumpling. It was very entertaining to watch them play.

My absolute favorite part was the cake cutting. We set the cake on our kitchen island and gathered everyone around. We sang happy birthday to a confused dumpling and then I blew his candle out (while he dipped his hand into the frosting). [For a visual picture, I had him on my hip and we were now facing his cake, away from our guests.] He got excited by something, the cake or the singing perhaps, and started clapping. Our guests, delighted by his enthusiasm, gave him an awe and a cheer. He immediately whipped around to look at them with a bewildered look on his face.  Who knew he had a cheering section! So they stop cheering and the dumpling turns back to his cake and begins clapping again. Another cheer goes up from our guests and the dumpling repeats his whip around stare. I swear to you that this happened at least three or four times and was no less hilarious the last time.

He did partake in a couple of bites of cake. I squished it for him (I had frozen the cake layers for easier frosting application but I misjudged how much time it would need to thaw…. it was still a bit firm) but he gamely tried a bite or two.

Another delightful part was when we had all the babies help us open his presents. Especially since the other two were older and were already hip to the present thing, they were more than happy to oblige. (My cousin’s daughter actually started opening a present while everyone was eating!) There was just a pile of wrapping tissue and paper and toys and babies in my living room!

Then, quite suddenly, our house was quiet again. Our friends left to make naptime and my parents left to return home and Luffy’s parents left and my brother left. I’ll admit that I got hit with a bit of melancholy. We’d had such a good time. I was sad to see it end, but that’s probably what marks a good celebration!

Happy birthday dumpling! It’s official now since there was cake!

Insanity

My office has an office-wide meeting every Monday at 8:30am. Precisely 8:30am. Sometimes a touch earlier than that because the meeting starts as soon as our lead partner sits down.

I have been running varying degrees of late for that Monday morning meeting for about four years now.

Part of the issue is that I REFUSE to leave my house any earlier than absolutely necessary. Which, I know. This basically all boils down to my problem because if I’d just shoot for leaving the house at 7:30 instead of 7:45, I’d be on-time the majority of the time. But this would also require me to get up earlier. And I’d be puttering around the office waiting for the meeting to begin. And have you actually ever tried to leave the house almost an hour before you normally do? Because it’s rough. So I shoot for leaving at 7:45 which (a) is still a miracle when I do and (b) gives me plenty of time as long as traffic runs fairly smoothly and I actually leave the house on time.

The rest of the issue is simply having to be somewhere at a specific time because we all know that life gets in the way of that. Some days I get out the door five minutes late and thus arrive five minutes late, ensuring that I’m flying through the office door just as the meeting gets started. Some days I leave on time, congratulate myself on that, and then spend my few precious extra minutes stuck in traffic. Other days, like today, I leave on time and then traffic goes kablooey and I waltz in fifteen minutes late because I just spent 55 minutes getting to work. Usually I do not care whatsoever about being late due to traffic. In my mind, I’m 100% responsible for everything that happens up to me getting in my car. After that, it’s out of my hands and I don’t stress about it. The problem here though is that because I’m late to this meeting so often, I do feel bad about being so late. Especially when I left on-time! It wasn’t my fault! I tried! Really! 

Every Monday morning, as I watch the clock tick closer and closer to 8:30, I promise myself that this is the last Monday like this. Next week I’ll leave earlier. Next week I’ll try for 7:30 or, hell, even just 7:40. Next week.

And then what happens the next week? I do none of those things and kick myself all over again. Which I’m pretty sure is the definition of insanity, but hey, it’s gotten me this far. Might as well keep it up.

One

Happy birthday, my little dumpling!

To be quite honest, I haven’t put much thought into how I want to commemorate my dumpling’s first birthday (and therefore setting the precedent for how I will always commemorate his birthdays). I’ve thought about waxing poetic about what it means to be a mother, to be his mother. I’ve thought about regaling you with what, exactly, the dumpling is doing now and how far he’s come. The thing is though, I’m sure those words have been spoken (re: motherhood) and it’s obvious how far he’s come (because, if I may be blunt, a year ago he was a squishy potato – not exactly setting the bar high here).

So I’ve decided the dredge through the memory banks and try to capture some untold* memories:


So in the hospital, our teeny, tiny newborn was primarily in his diaper and a swaddling blanket (day) or actual swaddle (night). This was just easier for the parade of nurses and doctors who needed to examine him and easier for me and Luffy as we held him skin-to-skin. I don’t want to alarm anyone with BRAND NEW INFORMATION, but the dumpling was our first child. Therefore, when we came home, we just kind of continued what we were doing/picked up at the hospital. I can only imagine my mother’s bemused smile when I told her, about a week and a half after his birth and so proud of myself, that I’d put pajamas on the baby! To help him sleep! Because I thought he might be cold at night! Aren’t I awesome at this?


I’m not a good picture taker. As in, I never remember to take them. Take this past weekend, for example, my brother got married and I got precisely three pictures: one of the dumpling and Luffy, one of the couple’s first dance, and one extremely blurry pic of my mom and brother dancing. That’s it. I don’t even have one of myself! And I got all dressed up! So as I scroll through my phone’s gallery, I am ever so pleased with myself about one particular image I did manage to capture:

It’s early morning. The picture’s embedded information is able to tell me more precisely: November 7, 2016, 7:13AM. I am reclining on our guest bed with my knees up; Luffy is at my side, asleep. The dumpling is in my lamp, bottom against my pelvis, head by my knees. He too is asleep. I don’t remember much in the way of specifics except that it had been a rougher night. If I remember correctly, Luffy had come in to check on me and had fallen asleep again as we chatted in the dim morning light. As I settled down into the bed, feeling complete with my husband and child, both right there and asleep, I snapped the picture. It’s a quiet, sweet memory through the newborn haze.


As a newborn, the dumpling used to always stick his tongue out. Quite literally. My OB commented on it after he finished stitching me up, that’s how early it started. It was adorable and I just now realized that he hasn’t done this for a very long time.


In looking back through photos, it’s so interesting to see his transformation from generic, newborn to himself. In the early photos, I see none of his features. I can (now) see a few of his features around the 2mo mark, but he doesn’t really look like himself until four months.


The dumpling has never been a snuggler. I think I’ve mentioned that fact several times (SO MANY TIMES, said everyone). This made it a little challenging when he was fussy or upset (read, overtired and refusing to settle) because you couldn’t just snuggle him into happy oblivion. I could get him to sleep on me by nursing, if we needed, but it wasn’t exactly something I wanted to encourage. And it didn’t always work.

So! There are exactly three times in his life that the dumpling has fallen asleep on me, sans nursing:

  • The first time is a cheat because he actually did nurse to fall asleep. But! I was able to shift him up and pull my shirt up and actually appear presentable when some friends of ours dropped by, even with a newborn in my shoulder.
  • The second time was during his first full-time week at daycare. Luffy and I stopped by at lunch to check on him. He snuggled into my chest and immediately fell asleep. And I do mean immediately. I felt terrible that I needed to return to work and had to hand him over, thereby waking him up, but it did warm my heart that I could just feel his little body relax and finally, finally, surrender to slumber in my arms.
  • The last time also occurred at daycare! (I’m sensing a theme here.) This time though, it was less about being over-stimulated by a new setting and more about having a blast. He had been playing like a champ when I walked in the door, but by the time we walked out, he was asleep on my shoulder. Poor little tuckered out baby!

I really enjoyed browsing through my gallery in search of inspiration for this. I loved seeing a sort of highlight reel (of course, that’s if you scroll past the twenty snaps of the exact same pose that were taken in an effort to catch that smile! or that look! or that hand thing he’s been doing!). I can see the shift towards mobility and the milestones like sitting up or solid foods. I can see his hair fall out and then fill in, little by little. I can see his scrawny chicken thighs bulk up into the little ham bones they are now. I can see his face fill in and his tummy round out. And nothing makes me happier, than to see my little boy get bigger and stronger and figure out this world. Happy birthday my sweet baby.

*And my apologies if you’ve heard one of these before! I wasn’t about to go through the archives for a year to make sure. Just take it as a sign that I really, really like this particular memory!

Then and Now

October 20, 2017

I think because it’s October, I’ve been running those mental comparisons lately of where I was last year. For instance, last week, on Tuesday, I knew that I had gone in for my ECV. I’ve thought about how I agonized over the decision and wondered whether we were doing the right thing. I thought about my disappointment in the unsuccessful procedure, but also how I let go, so to speak, to just enjoy the last few days of my pregnancy. I’ve thought about how excited – and terrified – we were.

This time, last year, I was walking out of work for the last time. I had worked feverishly all week to wrap things up, get things ready, and it felt liberating to exit the lobby of my building – heading towards the unknown. I’ve thought about how my mom came in early (she would be here this Sunday, if this were last year). I’ve thought about how the reality of having a baby really didn’t hit Luffy and I until this weekend. Since I had binge watched Bob’s Burgers while upside down on my ironing board, our weekend’s motto had been Tina Belcher’s patented panic attack noise.

I’ve thought about my c-section and how even having this tiny baby outside of my body didn’t really bring about a mom-epiphany. There’s a video we have, that my dad recorded. It has to be just hours after my surgery. My mom is holding the dumpling (who is so tiny and red!) and I’m laying in the hospital bed. The dumpling is crying, this weak little newborn bleating, and I’m just making small talk with the nurse. Every fiber of my being (now) screams at the girl in the bed to SOOTHE THAT BABY!!! but, of course, the video shows me that I didn’t. To be fair to myself, it would be a long time before my presence alone could soothe the dumpling.


There are a lot of things, in looking back through the archives, that I didn’t mention, things I’d like to remember. Rocking the dumpling after his middle of the night nursing sessions is one. I had read that infants took twenty minutes to fall into a deep sleep, so I took that as the gospel truth and almost superstitiously refused to do anything else. I remember standing in my dark living room at 11pm and 1am and 3am and 5am and furiously rocking the dumpling (he liked some speed behind his rocking) as the clock in my kitchen counted down the minutes. Afterwards I would ever so carefully transfer him to his rock ‘n’ play, still in our bedroom at that time, and practically hold my breathe as I climbed back into bed myself.

Another moment: just days after the dumpling’s arrival, Luffy had to take a quick business trip. My mom was still helping us at that point and I had just taken over for her after she had looked after the dumpling all night. It would have been about 4 or 5 in the morning. I had just changed the dumpling’s diaper in our bedroom and re-swaddled him. Importantly, he wasn’t wearing anything beneath the swaddle and I think the swaddle had snagged the velcro on his diaper somehow. Anyway, a few minutes after I had changed him, I was holding him against me and felt something warm seep down me. Horrified, I realized that he was basically peeing all over himself and me. Of course, he started crying as I laid him on the floor to clean him up and change him, again. Meanwhile, I’m trying to clean myself and the floor, all one-handed and in the dark. A hilarious, though quiet, introduction to motherhood.


As I’ve been looking back so much this month, I also can’t help but stay in the present, to compare/contrast the then and now. The dumpling seems so solid now, as he hurtles towards toddlerhood. He’s confident standing now and pulls up even when he doesn’t really have anything to pull up on (the shower door and my leg are good examples). He’s standing on his own for brief moments and I know he’s so close to walking. He loves to eat, except when he doesn’t. He loves ice-cold water out of his straw-sippy cup. I have cow’s milk in my fridge for the first time ever and he’s taken a few sips here and there. He plays well by himself, except when he decides you haven’t paid enough attention to him lately. He crawls and scoots and rolls and does this adorable 360 turn on his butt. He’s figuring out how to manipulate his world and all the times he can’t (floor versus baby head, for example).

I can’t believe it’s almost been a year, just like I couldn’t believe it was almost time and I couldn’t believe those two little lines. Happy almost-birthday, my sweet dumpling.

First words?!

First words are an odd business. I think I had this idea, in my head, that a baby would go about his babbling thing and then be like mama or dada or doggie and you’d be like MY BABY SAID HIS FIRST WORD!!!!!!! OMSQUEE!!

But that’s not really how it happens. Instead, Luffy and I debate whether the dumpling is connecting phrases like mamamamama with mama and me, for instance. Luffy gives a lot more credit to the dumpling than I do. He thinks the dumpling is starting to connect that mama means me and dada means him. I’m not quite so sure yet*. I mean, the dumpling generally says mama-mama-mamamamama when he is upset (because of course he does) and dada-dada-dadadada when he is happy and excited, so I suppose that’s a start. It’s just not how I imagined it would be, that’s all.

And then there’s uh oh. I have no such questions about uh oh. The dumpling debuted this new word onomatopoeia over the weekend and pretty much exactly in context too (dumping his toys over the side of the bathtub). The funny thing is, I have no idea where he got it (though my guess is daycare). I have actually been painstakingly avoiding uh oh and other related whoopsies-type words because I haven’t wanted to make a game out of him tossing his food and/or sippy cup over the high chair. Regardless of where he picked it up, I do have to admit that it is adorable. Painfully adorable. We captured it on video the following evening (uttered while he was draining all of the water out of his tub) and I have been watching it all day today.

Uh! oh. Uh! oh. Uh! oh.

Uh oh, my heart!

*Obviously our discussion over mama and dada has been going on for while. However, last week, Luffy went out to get breakfast for us. The dumpling and I were watching him walk up to the house again and – clear as a bell – the dumpling goes “dada!” So I’m pretty sure he knows that one too. So sweet.

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.)