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.

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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.

18 Months!

The dumpling is 18 months old! As of yesterday Wednesday. As you can see, I am awesome at this.

He did well at his check-up. He finally broke twenty pounds, that peanut, and while he is “behind” in communication, we were happy to announce that he learned two new words recently. All done as in I am ALL DONE with this empty bowl, mother, and shall hurl it off the table to demonstrate my all-done-ness and Wow as adorably exemplified this morning as he wandered around the kitchen going Oh wow! Oh wow! Oh wow! at nothing in particular. His block towers, on the other hand, garner an extended Woow-ooah!

There are definitely quiet little moments that fill my heart with joy at this age. Just this morning, I knelt down for a hug to see him off to school and he just beamed at me as he toddled over, diving in for a hug. I then kissed Luffy goodbye and pulled back to see him (the dumpling) run back over, tongue hanging out, presumably for a kiss as well. He then barreled off in chase of Luffy and managed to run right into Luffy’s leg as he was putting on his shoes, like a cute little bumper car. Such an adorable moment.

There are moments that make us laugh, like when he sings in his crib (at the top of his lungs). There are moments that frustrate us, like when he burst a seam on his zippy at bedtime and was completely obsessed and angered by this, yet refused to take it off and then we got him in a new one, but he wouldn’t get over the other zippy and we eventually just gave him the damn zippy to take to bed with him like geez child. There are moments where we watch him figure something, like how to kick a ball, and other moments where he suddenly just knows how to do something, like open doors*. All of these moments, the good and bad and quiet and happy and trying, they all blend to create our every day now. A bit like being on a roller coaster, really, and one that I actually enjoy being on. Usually.

*Our house unfortunately has all lever style door handles, meaning they’re not that difficult for the average toddler to operate. Even more unfortunately for us, the dumpling is tall enough and smart enough and he gets up on his tippy, tippy toes and – BAM – you’re looking at your toddler’s face as you’re trying to pee. So much for privacy!

Resurfacing

We’re alive!

Blurgh – those were a rough few days, but I think we’ve turned the corner (frantically knocks on wood).

Luffy ended up going to urgent care at like 7am last Friday morning because he needed help with that cough. He lost his voice, he coughed so much. They gave him a steroid shot and a stronger cough medicine. He’s still coughing, but I think it’s less? So yay?

I cried uncle Monday morning. My allergies gave way to a sinus infection, which left me with excruciating sinus pain all weekend (even WITH sudafed). The last straw was pink eye. I woke up Sunday morning with some crust in my eye, but groggily wiped it all away without really inspecting the damage. Monday morning though, I couldn’t even open my eye so off to the doctor I went. Sinus infection – check. Upper respiratory infection – check. Bacterial pink eye – check. Lots of medication. Twas fun. Especially because this antibiotic gets the medal for being the first ever to make me vomit. Yay!! (It’s one of those that’s supposed to be taken on an empty stomach except that I can’t handle that and need to take it with a few crackers.)

So now that we’re all on the mend, I have a few important updates to get to:


I bought the dumpling a play kitchen and it truly might be the cutest thing I have in my entire house (except the dumpling himself, obviously).

We had an old gift card to Toys R Us lying around and I realized that we should use it pretty quickly if we wanted to use it at all. I’d been eyeing a few play kitchens recently, wondering if the dumpling was old enough to enjoy them now, so I decided it was time. With gift card in hand, I purchased a cute set on Saturday night and was astounded to see it on my porch on Tuesday. I put it together immediately because I have no cool, though I did at least have the presence of mind not to show it to the dumpling until he actually had some time to play with it (our nights are pretty busy between our evening walks and his extended dinner time). This morning he got up early enough to have some time to play with it after breakfast and I’m pretty sure he loved it. He was excited to find all of the little hidey-holes and things-that-open and things-that-make-noise.


In more adorable news, the dumpling has started taking a stuffed animal with him to bed. It all started Sunday night; in a typical act of toddler stalling, the dumpling was requesting item after item from the bathroom counter. In trying to appease him (and stave off the meltdown), Luffy handed him the humidifier cap. The dumpling then refused to let go of it while we were dressing him and getting him ready for the night. So much so that we couldn’t get it away from him when we put him into his crib. What’s the harm, we thought and figured we’d sneak in to get it after he fell asleep. We watched on the monitor as he fell asleep, holding the cap with both hands. It was precious.

The next night, Luffy gave him a stuffed dog to take with him and the dumpling was delighted with the new cribmate. Plus, watching your toddler cuddle with a stuffed animal is about THE most precious thing you will ever witness.


One last item, just for me. Yesterday I wore my very smallest pre-pregnancy work slacks for the first time. Go me!

Life Data, pt 2

I’ve been a little obsessed with the last post. Oddly enough, this milestone seems monumental in ways that others have not. I keep opening the app, fiddling with the screens, looking at when the last updates were made to different modules. For instance, I last recorded a nursing session on October 31st, at 6:44am. It lasted just four minutes; he would fully wean himself just a few days later. My last recorded pumping session was October 9th at 8:28pm (which tells me I must have taught class, otherwise I’d never have pumped in the evening). I didn’t even update the session to include how many ounces I produced. Little bits and pieces of the dumpling’s data, there for me to review. As I was meandering through, I realized that I could export the data and my accountant-self got real happy. Without further ado, I present to you some numbers from the dumpling’s first 16 months of life:

Nursing:
– All total, we spent 23,765 minutes breastfeeding in twelve months. That’s a little over 396 hours or 16.5 DAYS.
– Our longest session was recorded was on February 4, 2017 at 57 minutes and I can tell that must have been an AWESOME day because the third longest session (at 41 minutes) is also from that day. Other than these two, most of the longest sessions were from the very early days (November and December 2016) and many of them occurred in the wee hours of the morning.
– The duration of each session generally shortens over time, with the 30+ minute sessions concentrated in his early weeks of life and the <5 minute sessions coming at the end as he grew out of nursing. There are a few exceptions though – for instance, a 28 minute session on the morning of October 7th, 2017 – that I hope I cherished as I got to spend an unexpected few extra minutes snuggling.

Pumping:
– All total, I spent 11,146 minutes pumping in eleven months. That’s 186 hours hooked up to a machine that I begrudgingly accepted.
– In those 186 hours, I produced 1,754 ounces of milk. That’s just under 55 quarts of milk or 14 gallons!
– To put those ounces produced into a bit more perspective though, the most I ever produced in one session was 9oz. The average pumping session yielded just 3.25oz and lasted 20 minutes.

Other fun highlights:
– In his first month of life, we changed 335 diapers.
– The longest recorded sleep was on January 13, 2017. He went to sleep at 7:15 Friday night and woke up at 8:30 the next morning. That was after his second full day at daycare. It also happened to be the day I decided I couldn’t take him back to that place.
– The dumpling has slept 12 hours or longer overnight just twenty times in his life. He averages about 9.5-10.5 hours right now.
– Our app has a note taking feature and I made some adorable notes about when he lost his umbilical stump (11/9/16), when he had his first real bath (11/12/16), and when he moved up to Size 1 diapers (12/11/16).
– As of his 15mo check-up, he’s gained just over 13lbs and grown 11.4in. 

And I’ll leave it on that note, as those are the only numbers that really matter, in the end.

 

Life’s Data

A week into the dumpling’s life, I downloaded one of those tracking apps for babies. If you are not a parent, you might not know these exist, but there are dozens of apps to help you track everything from nursing sessions to baths to sleep.

In the early days, the app was a life sanity saver. We’d show up to the pediatrician’s office for well baby visits and they would want to know how many wet diapers he’d had in the past 24 hours (answer without app: more than one, fewer than a fifty?? answer with app: seven) or how long he was nursing for on each side (answer without app: hmmm, awhile? answer with app: usually 8-12 minutes). The app was a fantastic reminder that the baby needs to eat again even though it totally feels like I just fed the baby. When he took multiple naps a day and we were firmly beholden to his max wake times, the app again proved invaluable in making sure we helped the dumpling get the sleep he needed. In other words, the app took much of the burden of keeping up with the dumpling’s ever changing schedule of needs, giving me the freedom to remember things like when was the last time I took a shower. Ah, the joys of motherhood.

So, for the past 16 months I have tracked the minute details of the dumpling’s life. Nursing. Then bottles. Then solid food. Naps, catnaps and crap naps and holy-crap-he’s-still-sleeping naps. Nighttime sleep, or lack thereof. Wet diapers, dirty diapers. Pumping sessions, both length and output. Everything that made up his day. Then, slowly, I started dropping one thing or another. I stopped entering his meals when he stopped nursing, for instance. I no longer needed to see how quickly my stash of breastmilk was being depleted, so entering his bottles (“6oz – formula”) felt unnecessary. And though our particular app does allow you to track solid food, trying to quantify how much food he was eating (“3.5oz – veggies”), seemed ridiculous, so I stopped. I was more than happy to stop tracking my pumping sessions – FAIR WELL PUMP! Around this time, I also stopped entering wet diapers. He was old enough that wet diaper output was no longer critically analyzed, thus there was no need to track that information. And so, piece by piece, I stopped recording his day until all that was left was sleep.

For the past week or so, I’ve found myself entering multiple days’ worth of sleep all at once. Trying to recall when, exactly, he went to sleep yesterday or woke up two days ago. All of a sudden, it hit me that I’m to that place again, where it no longer feels necessary to enter “Sleep – 7:25pm – 6:00am” each day. So I’ve stopped.

Why am I telling you about this, you might wonder. I’ll remove the links and widgets from my phone and will not make a note about when, exactly, the dumpling falls asleep tonight. Big deal.

Except it is, to me. My baby isn’t a baby any more. He’s growing so fast and so big. It no longer matters if he’s been awake for 60 minutes versus 70. It no longer means anything if he eats a little or a lot. The only concern I have about the state of his diaper is if it’s actively leaking and/or ridiculously full. And so, just another sunrise, sunsetthat’s all.