That’s a wrap!

Pop the champagne – I’m done with Christmas shopping!

It’s always an achievement, to get everything purchased. Nothing is wrapped, mind you, but my excuse for that is that it’s not a good idea to leave something so tempting within the toddler’s reach. Yeah…

I have to toot my own horn here too because I think I did quite well this year. You know how some years, you’re shopping, and nothing seems to pop out at you? No great epiphanies. No perfect something that stands out. Those years when you end up buying everyone gift cards with the justification that then they can get exactly what they want [jazz hands!]. Those years suck. This year, my friends, was not one of those years. Huzzah!

For my mom, I purchased vanilla beans and I’m making her vanilla extract. Sounds fancy but seriously the hardest part was drinking the wine from the bottle I bought getting the label off the bottle. Now it’s just chilling in my cabinet, getting more delicious-smelling by the day. I also got her a mini knife sharpener because I used her knives at Thanksgiving and had to lecture her on knife safety. Her knives are a menace to society. And thumbs. 

For my dad, I got something a little cheesy. You know those specialty popcorn shops? Yeah, I got him a big tub of popcorn. BUT. (1) He loves popcorn and (2) I’ve had this popcorn because [long story is long] and it’s the BEST popcorn I’ve ever had. Hands down. Even the cheese popcorn, which usually sort of grosses me out, was delicious. So I’m excited to slap a bow on that sucker when it comes in. I’m also hoping he’ll share some before he leaves. 

For both of them, I found these adorable Letters to my Mom/Dad keepsake book … things. The book calls it “a paper time capsule” which, sure, I guess. It is pretty cute though. It’s comprised of twelve pages that fold up onto themselves as letters. Each one gives a prompt like “a special memory I have of you is….” and on the outside you note the date you wrote it and the date they can open it. It’s a cute way to write down a few special memories and thank them for being my parents. That is, it will be cute if I can get all 24 letters written before Christmas.

For my brother, I scoured Redbubble and got him a little wall art for his new house. It’s a black and white abstract guitar. It looks nice; I hope he likes it. His wife was easy to shop for because my bro told me to get her a Google Play gift card. Yay!

For the dumpling, I got him a personalized wooden puzzle with his name and … that’s kind of it. You see, I had plans to get him this block set as well – an adorable little setup that was part puzzle, part block set, part town play. Very cute. And I guess a lot of other people thought so too because when I went to buy it, it was out of stock. Slated for return in January. wah wah. I feel especially dumb over this because I looked it up online a few weeks ago but didn’t buy it because “it was too early” or something. Gah! Clearly I underestimated the Christmas frenzy. I’m disappointed, but the dumpling is still young enough that it doesn’t really matter. I’ll get it for him when it comes back in stock. 

So yeah, that’s a wrap for 2018 holiday shopping! I was super impressed with myself too for having my shit together so early, until I looked at my calendar and realized that Christmas is actually less than two weeks away. So maybe not all that early.

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Post-Thanksgiving Thoughts

We’re back! We made it! Oh thank goodness and praise the etch-a-sketch gods!

The car ride there actually went really smoothly, all things considered and thanks to the aforementioned etch-a-sketch. Luffy got it for the dumpling, especially for the car ride and he loved it! He, of course, ping-ponged around like a monkey for a while after getting out of the car, but that’s to be expected. And, unlike last year when it took the full four days to even get the dumpling to agree to separate from me for even a nap, he had left me behind and was reading books with his papa within 30 minutes of our arrival. Yay for me! Ahem, I mean him. Yay for toddler independence!

Our primary hiccup was sleep related, not surprising given the dumpling is a very particular sleeper. The first night, we tried setting up a toddler airbed in a separate bedroom for him. He did pretty well going down, but he woke up at midnight and didn’t go back to sleep until I crawled into the bed with him. Since I couldn’t sleep well in the position I was in, I tried getting back out of the bed around 4:30, but he woke up about 15 minutes later and was up for the day basically. I took him to our bed where we dozed for a bit, but never really got back to sleep. The next night, I asked him – where do you want to sleep? Initially, he asked for his bed to be brought into our bedroom, but changed his mind once we laid him down to sleep. (On an interesting note, he was all about the toddler-sized airbed, until it came time to actually sleep in it. Toddlers, amirite?) He requested to sleep in our bed which was shocking since he’s never, ever done that. We did that for the two remaining nights and it actually went really well besides a few kicks in the face and a really early wake time since oh hey mom, you’re right here and I’m up so let’s party

Sleeping aside, we had a really great time. Lots of good food and playing with the dumpling. We took walks* and met my brother’s dog. The dumpling was fascinated by my parents’ cats (all four of them) and delighted in helping feed them. We decorated and baked Christmas cookies. I made a delicious cake. We played in the backyard. We played in the front yard. We looked at Christmas lights. We dug through boxes full of things from my childhood, sorting into keep-toss-donate piles. (And giving the dumpling one of my stuffed puppies.) Lots of fun!

The drive back even went pretty well, up until the dumpling got himself so worked up over getting back in his car seat that he puked. And then he did it again not an hour later for good measure. That part wasn’t so fun. But hey, we at least made it back in one piece! 

I even got a little extra dumpling time on Monday because he vomited twice Sunday, just enough to make me wonder if he had a stomach bug. I’m still not convinced, but he definitely does have a cold, so we just hung out watching Daniel Tiger and eating Cheerios. As we should.

*One adorable anecdote: I took the dumpling for a walk Thanksgiving morning (the day we woke up at 4:30) at about 9:15ish. Luffy and I had already planned to load him up in the car around 10 for a car nap (he loves those and we were not about to try getting him to nap on the airbed). He was tucked away in his wagon under a blanket and we were talking about it being cold outside. I literally turned the corner and looked back to find him asleep. ASLEEP! Sitting upright! In the cold, harsh wind! When we had been conversing not a minute prior! Who is this child? I laughed so hard and was thankful that we were right around the corner from my parents’ house.

Thanksgiving Thoughts

We’re off! Or… we will be… tomorrow… maybe…. as long as I can get all of us packed up.

We’re headed to West Texas for Thanksgiving and I have lists upon lists upon lists for things to pack. A list for me. A list for the dumpling. A list for Jas (who’s coming with us!). A list for the car. 

I truly hope that this car ride goes better, but we’ll see. You’ll have to keep your fingers crossed for us.

… And that’s seriously all the time I have today. I need to workout. And wash the wagon (which is coming with us!). And air up my car’s tires (luckily not quite the fiasco it was this time). Shop for car snacks. Create a Jas car-nest. Pack as many distractions for the toddler as I can fit into our car.

Wish us luck! I hope you have a wonderful Thanksgiving!

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.

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.

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.

Post-holiday Recovery

Well then, that was depressing.

In hindsight, I think that I was just really upset over my parents leaving early. Even before the holiday, I had been bummed that they were only staying for a full day (Sunday afternoon through Tuesday morning, so basically just here for Christmas Day). So the abrupt departure was something I just couldn’t deal with. I mean, don’t get me wrong, the dumpling was a lot to handle, but topped off with my parents being here for just 24 hours, and voila! Existential crisis du jour.

If I may though, the decision to have a second child has been weighing heavily on my mind lately. I’m not sure if it’s the dumpling’s mini-tantrums or my concerns over his development or perhaps the lackluster Christmas we had. Regardless, I’ve been giving a lot of thought to whether I want to have a second child.

Luffy’s ambivalent on the matter, so it’s really up to me. He does, at least, concede that I do most of the heavy lifting when it comes to our son, especially right now when we are in the grips of parent-preference (me, of course). It is nice to hear, in a way, that he sees everything that I do, but it doesn’t help the decision about a second child because I know that I’ll be doing most of the work. Hopefully, the dumpling will be a bit more independent when/if this hypothetical second child makes an appearance, but I know I can’t just focus solely on the young child and leave the older to fend for himself.

On the one hand, it feels like such a cop-out to plan my life out based on what’s easier right now. Right now, I can’t comprehend throwing a second child into the mix. Another strong-willed, uneven tempered being. I barely keep up with the dumpling as it is and I am always happy to turn him over to daycare for the day (mama needs a break too!). Honestly, just the thought of “I will only have one child” brings me a lot of relief and peace. And since it does, is that my gut telling me that I’d be no good as a mother of two? Is it taking the easy road or is it taking my feelings into consideration regarding our family’s future? After all, no one wants to be that mom who looks back at her life and regrets her children.

I feel like we’re at a crossroads of sorts. We ventured down one life path (have a child!) and we’re coming to a fork. The path that we’re on now has been fun, yes! With the dumpling’s laughter and smiles – watching him learn to crawl and walk and eat solid food. But it’s also been hard. With nursing around the clock in the beginning to newborn meltdowns to toddler meltdowns to colds and stomach viruses and febrile seizures.

This post is just all over the place at the moment. Basically what I’m trying to say is that raising a child is hard – oh so very hard – and I do a lot of the truly hard stuff. So if I choose to only have one child – is that taking the easy way out of life? Would I regret it later, that I never put in the hard work upfront to later enjoy the rewards of multiple children? Or, is choosing to have one child simply listening to my gut feeling that I’m unhappy right now and that child-rearing is the source of my unhappiness?


To add in one of my patented to be fairs, we have had a few tough weeks here recently. First with the shenanigans at Thanksgiving, then the seizure, and Roseola, and a cold, and possibly molars, and Christmas letdowns – it’s probably not the best time to be making life decisions. In the midst of the holiday blues, I even forgot that just weeks ago I seriously contemplated writing up a post about just how happy I was. At the end of October and first week or so of November, I was completely content. I felt it to my very core, the feeling that all was right in my little world. I didn’t write the post, because I thought it would come off as too braggy – look at me and my cozy little family! – but now I’m sad that I didn’t. It would have been a nice reminder of just how happy my life can be.