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.


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.


Of Football and Fall

Luffy and I watched our first football game of the season last night. It was (I believe) the first Thursday-night football game of the season and Luffy and I tuned in after I made dinner. I can’t tell you who was playing or what the score was. I can’t tell you about plays or points or suspenseful moments. What I can tell you about is the feeling of satisfaction that envelopes me when I hear the commentator’s familiar voice or listen to the sounds of the game.

That’s the thing: I don’t necessarily love football, but I do love when it’s on. It reminds me of fall and winter. Of cozy nights, curled up under a blanket. Of relaxed Sundays, with the crisp light of December filtering in through the windows. Of jeans and sweaters. Of friendly gatherings with beer and BBQ. Oh, such happy times.

I’m always glad when it’s football season again.

The Shoe Saga

Back in ….. April? Though, let’s be honest, knowing the way I get excited about things, it might have been March…. Anyway, the point is that earlier this year, I bought the dumpling a pair of waterproof shoes at Target. I knew he’d need them for splash days at his daycare in the summer, plus I figured waterproof shoes would just be a handy thing to have for a toddler. They were Croc-esque, though made by Stride Rite’s Target brand Surprize. I also bought a pair of shoes that were a breathable, athletic shoe. I bought them both in a size 5, his Stride Rite size, and was a little baffled when they were considerably larger than his current shoes. Oh well! I thought, just more room for him to grow.

And then the dumpling proved once again that you can’t boss a toddler around as he absolutely REFUSED to wear the shoes I had gotten him. RE. FUSED. In fact, to this day, he still won’t even look at the athletic shoes I bought him. I did manage to get him into the waterproof shoes at the end of May, with the distraction of playing outside in the water, but I could never find such a distraction for the athletic shoes.

So, after all this – purchasing the shoes far in advance and my hard-earned victory in finally getting the dumpling to wear them (he even started to request to wear them!!) – we lost them. Yup, that’s right, we lost them.

Though this happened in June, I can still recall the events clearly. We had packed the dumpling up on a Saturday morning to go to the local Farmer’s Market. They have a little splash pad and we had hoped to delight the dumpling with a morning of frolicking in the water. We had put on his regular shoes and socks (to cut back on blisters), but had taken his water shoes with us. We learned that day that the dumpling seemed to have a deep mistrust of splash pads as he staunchly refused to even go near it, going so far as to “rescue” me or Luffy from it when we tried to lure him in. No harm though, Luffy took the water shoes with him as he bought our eggs and a few veggies. I clearly remember that he took everything to the car and then came back for us, and we all packed up and headed out. That’s the last either of us can clearly remember the shoes.

The following Wednesday, when we needed the shoes for splash day, they were nowhere to be found. We looked high and low, searching the house and my car and the diaper bag. We looked through the grocery bags, thinking it got mixed up there. We searched my car again and again and again, as that was the most logical place for them to appear. We looked through the pantry and the recycling bin. We searched the dumpling’s bedroom and the kitchen. Everywhere we could think of, but they never turned up. The best we could figure is that Luffy had perhaps set them down at a vendor’s stall at the market or somehow dropped them on the way to the car.

Because of my hard-earned victory (re: toddler stubbornness), I was worried about replacing them. I didn’t want to have to go through another round of the toddler power struggle because we had misplaced his current pair. Our Target was sold out of the shoes, but I managed to find them at a different Target. They miraculously had his size (as it was the single size 5 pair and then like a half dozen size 10’s) and I thanked the baby shoe gods for – HALLELUJAH – I wouldn’t have to barter with an eighteen month old again. PRAISE BE.

It was Luffy who finally said something, a couple of weeks later.

“I think those shoes are two different sizes.”

Pish and posh! I thought to myself. I’d checked them! The box said size 5. The shoes themselves both had “5” printed on the inside. They were still tied together by the manufacturer when I bought them. They were the same size! I mean, yeah, the left one is a little harder to get on that the right but that’s because I’m right-handed and it’s the opposite side and grumble grumble complicated explanation is complicated. Trust me! They’re the same size!

Then he held them up for me. They were indeed two different sizes and it was so obvious (once I was forced to see) that I’m not sure how I never noticed in the first place. Not only were they not the same size, there had to be at least a whole size difference between the right and the left. At least. Even the breathing holes were smaller. The sole (colored a brightly contrasting neon green) was shorter. So obvious.

Confused, I checked the inside of the shoes and confirmed that they both indeed say size 5. I bemoaned the fact that I’d chucked the receipt the day we had purchased them. I had actually taken the dumpling to get them and he had been so excited to wear them that he opened the box himself once we got back home. I figured we were good to go!

Since this was Target we were talking about though, I figured it wouldn’t hurt to try to take them back. This was clearly a manufacturer’s default. Luckily, Target agreed with me and (thankfully) gave me a full refund once they were able to locate my purchase in their system. They were, unfortunately, out of the shoes I had purchased. Even the website didn’t have any in stock. So, I dragged the dumpling back to Target for a new pair of water shoes. I tested out my theory that he actually agrees to wear shoes as long as he’s there for the picking-out process and found it to be true. I again thanked the baby shoe gods because I wouldn’t need to barter with a twenty month old over shoes that were so very different from the water shoes we started with. PRAISE BE and ALL HAIL TARGET.

That all happened back at the end of June, middle of July. The dumpling has happily worn his new, though not really improved, water shoes for the rest of the summer. We’ve played at various pools, run through sprinklers, played with water tables. All good summer fun. Now that it’s September, I’m about to pack the water shoes away as I figure we won’t need them for a while.

Today, as I was sitting with Luffy at the dining table, chatting about the new exercise class I tried, I glimpsed something familiar. A shot of neon green against the beige wall. No freaking way, I thought, as I crouched down to remove the books from our bookshelf. Sure enough, back behind a stack of books, were the dumpling’s original water shoes. The ones we thought we lost at the market. In perfect condition, of course, since they’d been sitting back there for literally months.

Sigh. Good thing he’s cute as I have no doubt who put them there.

A quick memory

Guys! I am gushing with happiness over here and I just have to tell you and you and everyone:

My sweet dumpling gave me a kiss at bedtime rather than accepting my kiss.

The last piece of our normal routine includes Luffy and I singing Twinkle Twinkle Little Star to the dumpling as we head back to his room (after saying goodnight to the house). When we reach his room, still singing, Luffy and I give him his stuffed animals. Then I give the dumpling a kiss, then Luffy gives him a kiss. Then the dumpling goes down in his crib and night night! Lately, the dumpling knows his kisses are coming, so he leans towards each of us in anticipation. But tonight! Tonight, the dumpling refused to take his stuffed animal from me and instead leaned forward with a little (somewhat) puckered mouth to give me a kiss. How sweet is that?! He then gave Luffy a kiss, took his stuffed animals and leaned forward to be put in his crib.

This period is so amazing. He’s picking up so many new things each day. He’s learned how to say bless you! after someone sneezes and even said it by himself the other day after I sneezed in the kitchen. (He also adorably said it for himself today after he sneezed.) He loves feeding Jas and can even almost say her name now (he still calls her meow meow right now). Luffy and I can no longer hide things and hope he forgets about it, like the nail clippers he loves to play with, because he doesn’t forget about it anymore.

He’s getting so big, so fast, and it’s amazing to watch.

A quick update from a week later: The dumpling amazed me yet again over the weekend. I was sitting on the floor with him and wanted my phone (that was on the couch), but knew that if I got up he’d immediately start protesting. It finally dawned on me to ask him to get it for me. Luffy’s phone was right next to mine and they’re extremely similar (not that that’s hard in this day and age). But guys!! He picked up Luffy’s phone and turned it over, then handed it to Luffy. He then picked up my phone, turned it over, then gave it to me. And it hit me, he was looking at the cases. Luffy’s is completely black while mine is black with a rose gold panel. And the dumpling knows it. (!!!!!)

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.


The decision to have a child is not a rational one. Or at least, most of the time it’s not. It’s a decision we approach with our hearts and our ideals of family and love. Some people (better people than me) approach the decision with all of the patience and idealistic sweetness of a kindergarten teacher. Luffy and I approach the decision rationally, which usually means that we decide we don’t need another. (I mean, who really wants to spend their days changing diapers and dealing with tantrums?)

Today though, today I wanted to take some time to record those small moments which make having the dumpling our favorite decision we’ve ever made:

I’ve never mentioned it (as it hasn’t come up in our conversations, lest you think I’m holding back on you), but I make up songs a lot. Jas has  a song, the dumpling has several. They’re silly songs, akin to something like “put your shoes on, cha-cha-cha,” but it’s what I do. Luffy always, always teases me with “that’s not a song” or to point out that several of my songs have the same melody. (I’ll give you a hint: “spider man, spider man, does whatever a spider can” is my go-to.)

This morning, as we gave the dumpling his current preferred breakfast (those Belvita breakfast bars, which he calls crackers), he suddenly broke out into song:

“Crackers, crackers, crackers…. crackers.”

It didn’t have a recognizable melody, but he sang and danced nonetheless. And I couldn’t be more proud.

It’s a small moment, but I swear there’s nothing better than reuniting with a toddler. They’re just so excited to see you. When I pick the dumpling up from daycare, he always (very courteously for the not-yet-two-year-old set) puts his toys away and then ruuuuuuns to me. He gives me the biggest hug and then wants up-up-up!

Later in the evening, we’ll be playing at home after dinner, waiting for Luffy to arrive. I’ll see his car pull up in front and point him out to the dumpling. He immediately launches into a little excited prance – OMG DADA!!! – and heads to the front door to greet Luffy.

On other days, where Luffy picks him up and I come home later, I can see into the kitchen as I pull into the garage. I’ve caught the dumpling in a happy dance at the sight of my car through the window. It’s heart-melting-ly adorable.

At almost 21 months, he’s becoming more proficient with movement. He walks very well. He runs. He hasn’t jumped (that I’ve seen), but we’re working on it. My favorite thing right now is how he lifts his shoulders to run. It’s like he’s so excited that he has to go fast and the higher he lifts his shoulders, the faster he’ll go.

Toddlers are pretty naturally easy to please. The trick is that you never know what’s going to actually capture their attention. I can almost guarantee that the more effort you put into entertaining them, the less they’ll enjoy it. However, if you let him play with bow-ties at a ritzy tux shop (against your better judgement), you’ll be delighted to realize that the only bows he knows are hair bows, and will spend the next five minutes laughing as he uses bow-ties as hats (to his delight too).

In another example, we were playing outside with his water table. Me and my save-the-planet guilt, I had to use some of the water to quench our poor plants (111 degree heat will wilt the hardiest of plants). He then spent the next twenty minutes using the water from his water table to water our plants. It was the sweetest thing, but he was far too enthralled for it to be truly altruistic.

There are many more moments, but I’ll leave you with one more. The dumpling loves his dada. LOVES. I may be “primary” parent, but Luffy is the fun parent. All Luffy has to do is look at dumpling in a certain way and all of a sudden, a game is on. Today, we played close-the-bathroom-door and open it to look for Luffy. Other days, it’s chase. Or tickle. Or games that don’t even really seem to have rules, except the the dumpling is inordinately pleased.

So yes, the decision to have a child is an irrational one. To be tied to a small person’s whims and schedule. To be dragged into tantrums and tears. To be expected to remember hundreds of random rules to make everyone’s day easier (don’t you dare mention outside unless you intend to go outside!). Who wants that? But when you have a suddenly snuggly toddler who burrows his head into your shoulder, it’s a little hard to think rationally.


The other day, on my drive home from work, I started counting up the words that the dumpling can say now. I came up with quite an impressive list (at least, impressive to me) and I realized that I haven’t memorialized what he can say in a while. So, without further ado and presented in as close to chronological order as I can get, a narrated list of the words that my child knows:

Uh-oh – a classic favorite that really just means, something needs your attention!
Dada –
a word for either mama or dada if I am in a good mood
Mama –
a word explicitly for mama if I am very upset
Up – now woman!
Down – now woman!
Off –
comes out as “oss” and it really means will you open/close/put-on/take-off this?
More –
self-explanatory, but it comes of as “ore”
All done! – and you have two seconds before I toss this to the floor!
Water –
Outside –
Walk – I don’t care what you’re doing, but it’s time to get outside for a walk!
Shoes – shus?? shus??? where are you???
Sock –
This –
Oh this! – oh my gosh I need this right now!!!
Cracker –
he actually pronounces this one pretty darn close, he’s just missing the hard c
Yes –
I feel like it must be noted that he’s a toddler who actually does say yes
No – and I’m not even sure why you would suggest that, mother
Dressed –
as in, let’s go get you dressed!
Block – let’s play!
Bye –
the sweetest little “bye” you’ve ever heard
Truck –
OMFG it’s a TRUCK!!!!
Hi –
only said if you’re very lucky
Circle –
“ircle” said every time he sees a circle

Currently, he’s working very hard on brush (as in, to brush his teeth), wash (as in, to wash the clothes), and mulk (aka, milk). Then, there are other things that I’m fairly sure he’s just mimicking, like just like that (as in the spider caught the fly in her web, just like that) or coke (as in, gotta get dad a coke!). It’s always challenging to find the line between he knows that word and he’s repeating that word. He can also answer what sound a (1) dog, (2) cat, or (3) dinosaur makes.

All in all, he’s made a lot of progress since as of about three/four months ago he could only say uh-oh and dada.