Officially Two!

We threw a birthday bash for the dumpling on Saturday, so it’s official! He’s two! He also seemed to grow two inches and put on a good five pounds over the weekend. But maybe I just feel that way because he requested to be held about 95% of Sunday, give or take a minute for bathroom breaks (mine) and kitty hugs (his).

We had the best time though on Saturday. The fun actually started on Friday evening, when my mom drove in early. I pointed out her car pulling up the driveway and as soon as she stepped out, the dumpling just dissolved into a fit of giggles and wiggles. He was SO excited to see her. The next day, we added more fun people when my dad and brother showed up. My brother chased him around the house for a while and allowed me to focus on getting ready for the party (those four dozen cupcakes weren’t going to frost themselves!). The party itself actually started out a little slowly because literally all of our guests except family had said they were coming but would be late due to various reasons. We truly did have the best time though and rounded out the evening playing Drawful with our neighbors.

Adorable moments from the party include:

  • When he discovered balloons: I bought him a big, Mylar fire truck balloon and had it professionally inflated Friday afternoon, hiding it in my closet overnight. I brought it out while my brother was playing with him and as soon as he stepped foot in the dining room, he stopped dead in his tracks. What is that glorious thing??? you could just see the question form in his mind. I felt a little bad for my brother as the dumpling immediately made a game out of letting the balloon go and having my brother get the string for him (even though he could totally reach it himself).
  • When he noticed that someone had brought him (the most adorable) stuffed dinosaur. It wasn’t wrapped, just sitting on the presents, and he immediately exclaimed di-no-sor!! and carted it off.
  • When he was overcome with shyness the moment he realized we were all singing Happy Birthday to him.
  • When he unwrapped the fire truck book my parents gave him and immediately decided to sit down in my lap to read it. He still had presents to open, but he just had to know what the fire truck’s smooth, shiny bumper felt like!
  • When he deftly handled the serving spoon to get himself more watermelon from the table. I was pretty impressed, honestly.
  • When my family had to leave fairly early to drive back to West Texas and he decided that it was time to say goodbye to everyone.

Not related to the party, but still completely adorable:

  • Our neighbors had an inflatable dragon up for Halloween. Quick thinking let me convince him it was a dinosaur. He’s been saying hi/bye to the dinosaur all month. They took it down on Sunday. He was very sad and talked about the dinosaur going bye bye for a good ten minutes.
  • This morning, he was in a particularly good mood, which was helpful since Monday mornings are always busy for us. I was making breakfast in the kitchen, when I heard the dumpling calling for me from the living room. I told him he’d have to come to me, since I was making breakfast. Miss you! is the response I heard, and felt my heart swell.”Awe! I miss you too baby!”

    Suddenly, he appeared around the corner of the counter, looking perplexed.

    “Waffle?”

    It suddenly dawned on me that he was not proclaiming the fact that he missed his mama, he was inquiring as to when his damn waffle would be ready. Jeez, mother, and would it kill you to refill my coffee in the meantime?!. I turned the oven light on and had him check his waffle himself.

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A surprising Halloween

Luffy always says that the key to a great time is low expectations. And that’s exactly what I had for Halloween.

Countless people had asked what the dumpling was going as. An adorable puppy? Perhaps a superhero? Or what about a fireman? My answer was actually nothing. We weren’t dressing up. I had no plans to trick-or-treat or even really do anything to celebrate the holiday with the dumpling. He has no clue what Halloween is. Luffy and I don’t care about Halloween. Why on earth would I go through the effort?

Last year, our neighbors brought out a folding table and we combined forces and candy, sticking around to chat long after the last trick-or-treater had come by. I planned to basically do the exact same thing this year. The catch is that our neighbor has an older child (he’s six I think) who was, obviously, super excited about trick-or-treating. Since the evening was pleasant, I figured we’d just tag along with them. We brought out the wagon to put the younger kids in (the dumpling and our neighbor’s 14mo old) and we started off around the neighborhood. It didn’t take too many houses for the dumpling to figure out there were eats at the door. He started tagging along with our neighbor’s older child to get candy. He was very polite about it, taking just one piece at each house and saying thank you when prompted. He didn’t have a costume, but he did have on his orange jacket so he looked somewhat festive.

We ended up having the best time, walking around with our neighbors, trick-or-treating. The last house we went to was passing out hot dogs and chips, so the dumpling devoured a hot dog as we walked back to our house. He’d basically just had candy for dinner, so I was glad he got something solid in him before bedtime. We managed to get him down for bed around the usual time, but all that traipsing around really took it out of him – I’m fairly sure he was asleep before we even closed his bedroom door.

The best milestone

I don’t have a ton of time this morning – between work and CPE and a birthday party to plan – but I just have to tell you guys something. The dumpling just hit the best milestone.


The dumpling is battling some low-level crud this week. This makes his mornings particularly cough-y and that’s how we woke up this morning, to the sounds of coughing. I went to get him, bringing a cup of water for him, and was greeted by an especially NO filled toddler. Everything I did was no. Hand him water – NO! Take the water back out – NO! Turn off the sound machine – NO! Try to help him out of his zippy since he already had a hand shoved out from the neck – NO! Zip the zippy back up – NO NO NO NO NO! I could go on, but you probably get the idea.

So it seemed a small miracle when I managed to get him out of the crib and into the living room a few minutes later. He requested to watch Drake, so I got the TV turned on and perched lightly on the couch beside him. I still needed to get up and get him his milk, but he started angling down towards my lap. It seemed as though he wanted to put his head in my lap, so I scooted back and allowed him to snuggle down into my lap. He’d never done that before – lay down on me like that – so I just enjoyed stroking his head and his feet. He adorably started kissing my arm, the one that was wrapped around his front. Then:

“Mama!”

“Yes baby?”

“I love you.”

[!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!]

(To clarify the milestone part, this is his first unprompted “I love you.”)

Fittingly, Facebook had a flashback photo for me this morning. It was from November 1st, 2016, just days after the dumpling was born. And it’s a crazy thought, that the tiny, squishy, old-man of a baby in that photo is now able to tell me he loves me.

Two

My sweet dumpling turns two today! Our official* party is next weekend, but I did take some cupcakes in to school today for his class to enjoy. I hope they sing Happy Birthday to him, because he loves that song.

In looking back, this year doesn’t seem as momentous as the first. I mean, that first year of life, there’s just SO much happening. So many milestones and such a visible, tangible change in a child’s life. This year though, I know he’s made developments (huh, hello??? talking???), but they don’t seem as life-changing as that first year. Perhaps that’s because I had so much adjusting to do. Anyway, as I browsed back through my photo reel for this year’s inspiration, it surprised me to see how small he looked at the beginning of the year versus now. Similarly, by the time I’d made it to the current photos, it surprised me how child-like the dumpling looks now. When exactly did he get so big? When did he stop looking like a baby and start looking like a little boy? Even glancing through, I can’t pinpoint the day or month.

Less surprisingly, there are far less photos this year as compared to last year. Part of the reason is that we’re just far busier doing things now (even if those “things” are just keeping up with a toddler running full-tilt across the house all day). I’d argue another part is that he simply won’t sit still for photos now and has no patience to be my monkey if I’m trying to capture a song or word or phrase. Still though, I searched for a few memories for today:


I occasionally snap a photo of him while he’s asleep in his crib and, beside his own growth, that’s probably the biggest change of all. Earlier in the year, he slept with absolutely nothing in his crib, per infant sleep guidelines. He was nestled in his zippy, but that’s it. Then, it started. First the humidifier cap, then (more suitably) the stuffed puppy. The dumpling adds a new thing every once in a while, which brings us to the current count:

  • Puppy
  • Kitty
  • Blanket (monkey)
  • Blanket (striped)
  • Blanket (fuzzy)
  • Zippies (the two he’s not wearing, or all three if he’s not wearing one)

It’s…. a lot. But, he seems to love it. And as a person who is still sleeping with a maternity pillow so I can snuggle it to death, I can’t really judge him.


Speaking of Puppy and Kitty, I’ve watched him giving them kisses and chatting with them in the mornings (while he’s still in his crib). Sometimes, when we go get him, he’ll give me one of them to hug. This morning, he was giving Kitty kisses on the nose. Yesterday morning, he pretended to tuck them both in, placing a blanket over them and saying “night night.” It was adorable.


There are no forgotten moments this year because I’ve scrolled through my photos a hundred times in pursuit of videos. I don’t think I’ve mentioned his obsession with watching videos of himself, but he was seriously OBSESSED. For probably a few months, judging by which videos I know the most. Because of this, I introduced him to Daniel Tiger on PBS (really Amazon Prime Video, FTW!) because he would inevitably get annoyed with my directing the videos and he’d swipe out at the phone and next thing you know, we’re calling my brother. Anyway, I taught him to ask for the different videos as “watch Daniel” and “watch [himself].” Soooo cute. We’ve added “watch trucks” for Amazon Prime’s The Dirty & Stinky Show and “watch Drake” for … well … the walk through of Uncharted 4 on YouTube.

You see, one weekend, Luffy was playing and the dumpling was enraptured. Nothing had ever held his attention for so long. Afterwards, he started to request it (“watch dada”) except that Luffy wasn’t always around to play. So, we found a full walk through on YouTube without commentary and we play that for him. He loves it. We fast forward through particularly intense scenes, but since so much of the game is puzzle solving or climbing through the jungle, it’s actually a pretty beautiful game to watch.


And that’s it for now, I think. He’s emerging as such a sweet, funny little person. He tries my patience, time and time again. He knows exactly how to push my buttons (yanking all of his shirts off the hangers) and two seconds later he’s making my heart melt (getting breakfast bars for each of us and passing them out – one for dada, one for dumpling, one for mama). There are days when nighttime comes that I simply don’t want to put him to bed yet, because we’re having such fun. Of course, there are other days when bedtime can’t come soon enough. He’s learning so many new words now and making strides towards full sentences and each day brings a new discovery.

Happy birthday my sweet dumpling!

*I totally wasn’t even going to have a birthday party for him this year. I mean, he’s two, it’s not like he cares. But then my mom asked if we could have it on Nov 2 because she’d be in town. And my neighbors offered to grill something up as a sort of payment for the smash cake. And – oh fine! – I’ll throw him a birthday party. I think I’ll make cupcakes.

Pumpkins and Cheese

A quick note from the editor’s desk: I am completely and utterly swamped at work this week. If you’re asking yourself what I’m doing here then….. I’m asking myself the same question. But! I had to jot down a few things for posterity and all that before essentially ignoring my blog for the upcoming week.


Happy Fall y’all!

We took the dumpling to the arboretum this weekend – Luffy’s idea. We generally had a pretty great time. (I mean, outings rarely go off without a hitch or a single tear when there’s a toddler involved.) The Dallas arboretum has an outstanding pumpkin patch each year and we got some adorable photos out of the trip. The dumpling has even been practicing his picture-taking at school apparently because, after the first photo, he kept getting back up on the hay bench, saying “cheeeeeeeeeeese!” and then patiently waiting for his picture to be taken. Then he’d climb off and repeat the process. It was pretty adorable, though I did have to tell Luffy at one point to keeping humoring the little guy and that he could delete the pictures off his phone later. I probably scandalized a few of the very Dallas-ite mothers that were there by uttering that phrase.

The garden also provided a fun opportunity to people watch. You could definitely tell who was there to have family portraits done – lots of button-down shirts on young children and matching family outfits. We saw a few women having maternity photos taken. Another couple was announcing their pregnancy with photos (and the sex too, I imagine, as they were holding a little blue-painted pumpkin). I saw the afterglow of what I’m pretty sure was a proposal. We saw several men in tuxes pouring out from a Hummer as we were leaving. More than any of the others though were the 15-year-olds in their quinceanera dresses. We saw at least six or seven of them – floating through the crowds with an army of helpers to hold their dresses. An explosion of color and organza and rhinestones. Really brightened up the day.


The dumpling was particularly accident prone yesterday and managed to completely bite the dust in the gravel parking lot of the arboretum. Gravel: 1; Toddler’s chin: 0. He’s sporting a few ugly scrapes this morning as a result. I’m honestly relieved at that because it was the sort of injury where I’m busy counting his teeth while trying to console him, so a few scrapes seem like a good trade off. Just a few hours later, he took a tumble – head-first – off the couch. Not his finest moment(s).

Speaking of, I made a rookie parent mistake at the arboretum. Never, ever make something into a game unless you’re willing to repeat it a hundred times. What is this Belle? Amateur hour?! So the arboretum has this amphitheater built into the grounds. One of our challenges yesterday was getting the dumpling to move through the gardens. He’d get fixated on one thing and get mad as soon as we moved away, not really understanding that there was a lot to see. So, in a desperate bid to distract him, I pointed out the amphitheater’s steps and – 1! 2! 3! Whee! – scooped him up and over. I did it for all three tiers and then my intention had been to point out Luffy at the top and have him run up to greet him. That part did not go as planned, though my distraction worked well. Too well actually as the dumpling doubled back to go down and then back up and back down and back up. Again and again and again. Luckily, he got to the point where he wanted to pull himself up and over the step and I only had to say the wheee! part. But even with that… my glutes are so sore today.


On Sunday afternoon, we broke open the sidewalk chalk that I had pestered everyone into going to Target with me to procure. He seemed to enjoy it, though the bathtub crayons were a bigger hit. To be fair, the sidewalk chalk requires a fair bit of pressure to get decent markings, so he might be just a tad too little right now. We decided to go for a walk instead, and left the chalk in the driveway while we went. When we returned to pick up the chalk, we found we were missing one. Not really sure what happened, though I spent a few hilarious minutes imagine a squirrel making off with one.


A few events for the milestone books:

  • The dumpling took a 20 minute nap yesterday. He was plumb worn out from the arboretum and slept on the ride home. I planned to transfer him to his crib when we got home but he woke up as soon as we pulled into the garage. I then figured we’d just do an early bedtime and deal with the little terror he was bound to be by that point but…. and here’s the milestone part … the terror never came out. He played perfectly well all afternoon and when it was time for our early-bedtime, we actually questioned ourselves as to if he even needed it. He seemed fine.
  • We had a neighbor get-together planned for the Cowboys’ game yesterday afternoon. I decided to bake some brownies and I just want to say that I managed to bake them yesterday while the dumpling was awake and Luffy was napping. Why is that a milestone, you ask? It means that I was able to do a task that required both hands while the dumpling entertained himself. Incredible!
  • Last night, the dumpling woke up around 1:30 in the morning, literally screaming. He settled down immediately though, as soon as I walked into the room, so my first thought was a nightmare. However, after about half an hour of restless flipping had passed, and I heard this tiny little “mama?” from the crib, it finally dawned on me that I could try, you know, asking him what was wrong. I got no response when I asked about a bad dream, but when I asked him if something hurt, he pointed to his head. WHAT?!?!?! YOU MEAN HE’S ACTUALLY OLD ENOUGH TO HELP ME TROUBLESHOOT NIGHTTIME ISSUES?!?!?!?!?!?! I took him to go get a dose of Motrin and some water and put him back in his crib. Didn’t hear a peep from him until morning. I swear, 2am me would have popped some fireworks if that wouldn’t have gone against the whole go back to sleep thing I was trying to do.

And that’s all I’ve got for now. Let’s chat again next week, k? Thx. Byyyyyyyyyyeeeee.

Corn dogs and cotton candy

We took the dumpling to the state fair this weekend!

After our last encounter with the fair, I’m honestly proud that Luffy and I even made it back. (Complete aside – one thing about having a small child is that we get out of the house A LOT more than we used to. Pre-child, Luffy and I could spend an entire weekend in our living room. Now we have usually get out at least once a day, if not more. It’s an interesting change.)

So yeah, we took the dumpling to the fair. We asked Luffy’s parents if they would like to come along. They, of course, can’t get enough of the dumpling so they happily tagged along. We decided to go early, before the fair even officially opened. (It’s much like a mall in that the fair grounds opened at like 8am, many of the stalls opened at 10am, the rides at noon, etc.) After scoring a great parking spot, we stumbled into the bovine livestock exhibit. The dumpling was delighted to see so many cows in real life. Then they moo-ed and he was a little taken aback by the sound (my own moo-sounds will probably forever disappoint him now). We stuck around for a while before wandering off to explore the fair grounds.

When we arrived, none of the rides were operating, but many of them were being tested and cleaned up before the day officially started. The dumpling loved looking at all the lights and dragging me from place to place. We meandered through the children’s ride section and then shared a funnel cake that Luffy procured from some stall willing to sell him something before they officially opened. (That was sort of the oddest part – most of the stalls weren’t “open,” but the workers were already there so sometimes they’d go ahead and sell you things and other times they’d just say they were closed. *insert shrugging emoji*) We wandered around some more before Big Tex officially opened the fair grounds.

Once the fair officially opened, the grounds quickly became crowded. The dumpling was walking around and I’m honestly pretty proud that he didn’t seem to get nervous with the crowds. He’d occasionally want UP, but for the most part, he just stared up at all the different people. Luffy’s mom got a corn dog for herself and then made the mistake of offering it to the dumpling to take a bite. I’m not sure if she was really giving it to him or just giving him a bite, but the dumpling definitely took it for himself. He carried that thing around for a good 45 minutes, gnawing on it here and there. We visited the car show and he (adorably) sat on the side step of a King Ranch truck for a while, daintily eating his corn dog. At one point, he and I made a game of circling a rectangular pillar, shouting “boo!” at each other on the other side. Later on, Luffy got me some cotton candy and I shared it with my little dude. He seemed to enjoy it.

When we started talking about leaving though, Luffy’s dad became transfixed with the idea of the dumpling going on a ride. (Or at least, that’s what I surmised, since, you know, there’s a language barrier there.) At first, I thought he wanted to take the dumpling on his first ride and I was ready to throw down over that one because hell-to-the-no I’M going to take him on his first ride. But then, I figured out that’s what his dad wanted in the first place. Oh. Ok. Right then. Simmer down Belle.

I cleaned the cotton candy off my fingertips as Luffy counted out the coupons. (Such a racket! They charged us for both the dumpling and me!) Once we had everything sorted out, I helped the dumpling up the ramp to the little car for the worm ride (or whatever it was). The dumpling seemed super excited….. right up until I put him in the car.

No. NO. NOOOOOOOOOO. 

Oh. Ok. Right then.

I meekly pulled him out and told the ride operator that, actually, nevermind. I was ready to scrap the whole ride idea then and there, but one more ride caught our attention on our way out. It was a little whale ride, with water and bubbles. We figured, might as well try one more – we’ve already got the tickets counted out. So I took the dumpling up the ramp and cleared our first hurdle when I was able to actually put him into the little car whale without protest. We sat there for a minute, before the ride started, as I futilely tried to explain to the dumpling what was about to happen and he slowly started to freak out about the fact that we weren’t doing anything. And then! The ride started. We just went around in a circle, the little whales doing a little (jerky) up and down motion. I mostly worried about him smacking his head on the handle bar since I couldn’t convince him to brace himself on it, but he seemed to have a great time! Such a great time, in fact, that we had to immediately do it again! Wheeeeeeeeee!

We made our way to the exit after that and headed home. All in all, I think we had a great first fair experience!

A random bag of Christmas

GUYS! Guys!

Ok, so let me back up to like an hour ago. The sky is heavily overcast, so it’s pretty dark out. I get home from my usual Monday night exercise class to find that Luffy is swamped with work. I offer to go pick up our usual Monday meal – Jersey Mike’s – so that he can work some more. After a quick shower, I head back out again. I’m two houses down when I glimpse something through the window of a house.

A Christmas tree.

??????? 

I know right?! I had the same reaction. I mean, it’s September, so I feel like it’s a bit early to be putting up your Christmas tree. Or does this mean that they never took it down and it’s been up for the past nine months? Do they ever take it down? I mean, I guess I can see not taking down exterior lights in between seasons, but not taking down your tree? Isn’t it in the way? Or does it become part of your decoration? It kind of has to right, it’s not exactly inconspicuous.

I finally settled on giving them the benefit of the doubt: perhaps they put their tree up over the weekend so that they could take some holiday photos for holiday cards. Just because I think that’s way too much work for some measly holiday cards, doesn’t mean they feel the same.

Anyway, it baffled me so much that I slowed down on my way back (with our dinner!) to confirm that I had indeed seen a Christmas tree through the window. Yup. It’s Christmas in September I guess.


My office stocks a couple of little candy dishes in the conference rooms. Little miniature chocolates and fun size candy bars. Every once in a while I’ll have something, but since Luffy and I are obsessed with Lindt chocolate, nothing quite compares on the chocolate front.

Today, I discovered that they now have peanut butter M&M’s. I really, really wished I hadn’t found that out as peanut butter M&M’s are my weakness. My only saving grace is that the conference rooms are off by themselves. It’s super obvious when someone goes to get candy because that’s the only reason to be over there. Since I’ve established myself as the healthy eater, I have to maintain appearances and I can’t just be grabbing candy. Whew. 


I’m enjoying reading through a few of my favorite books again. I used to use my iPad for books and had accumulated about 50 or so titles there. I recently transferred several of them to my Kindle, including a few of my absolute favorites.

I am, however, deeply annoyed that I can’t move everything. All the titles that were purchased through iBooks are firmly encrypted with Apple’s DRM technology. While I understand the need for data rights management, I’m so frustrated that I can’t read my own books on the device of my choosing. The only reason I have a few titles that are DRM-free is because I used to have a Sony eReader and I wanted to transfer those books to my iPad. Luffy busted the DRM on those at the time, leaving me with usable copies. Now though, Apple has really tightened their security and I can’t un-encrypt anything I’ve purchased through them.

Booooo.


I don’t think I’ve mentioned it anywhere, but Luffy and I are getting ready to go on a pretty amazing trip.

It all started because some dear friends of ours are getting married in Ireland and you don’t just go to Ireland for the weekend. So, we heading over a week early and spending some time in Italy. Our fifth anniversary just so happens to fall in that week, so we’ll celebrate our fifth in Rome!

On one hand, I am so freaking excited I can hardly stand it. We love to travel and we haven’t done any proper travelling since I got pregnant. I can’t wait to spend some time with just Luffy. We’re going to have an wonderful time, I just know it.

And yet, I’m also not looking forward to it because the dumpling is staying here. My mom is going to stay with  him, here at our house. We’re doing everything we can think of to help him out. My mom is taking him to daycare each day, to try to keep his routine as normal as possible. I’m going to make him a little calendar of sorts, to mark off the days until we return. (We actually got to practice this when Luffy went out of town!) We’re going to video chat with him each day, unless it seems like the calls do more damage than good. Just this evening, Luffy suggested that we make some videos of us singing to his favorite songs.

So yeah, on the one hand I am so, SO, SOSOSOSOSO ready for Italy and vacation. And on the other, I just don’t know how I’m going to say goodbye.