July 2012

Allie has a new thing to add to her signage repertoire: pointing. It’s used to draw our attention to something she’s taken an interest in (“Look mommy, a bright ceiling light!”), to indicate a desire (“I want that red cup, bring me to it.”), and to coerce some playful contact (“I point at you, you touch your nose or fingertip to mine, and you can either say ‘Boop’ if it’s your nose or ‘E.T. phone home’ if it’s your finger, I’ll smile at both.”).

Mr. W thought it’d be great to hand her a plush UCLA football, then get her to point at something overhead, so that she looks like she’s signing, “UCLA is #1!” So we turned on an overhead ceiling fan and just like a charm, she pointed repeatedly at it, fascinated. Then we handed her the football, a gift from Eddie (die-hard Trojan, of all things) and Michelle. Immediately she was distracted by the tag. Of course it went right in her mouth, and we tried lots of different tactics, changing up the timing of handing her the football, pointing to the fan ourselves, and this was the best we could do:

Her hand had dropped by the time the cameraphone took the photo. Oh, well.

In the car on Sunday, Allie looked up, pointing quizzically at the cabin light. So I thought I’d really impress her and show her something magical. “Light on!” I said, and flipped the switch to turn the cabin light on. She smiled. “Light off,” I announced, turning it off. She looked at me expectantly, then very deliberately pointed at the light again, leaving her hand in the air, waiting. “Light on!” *flick* Allie smiled. “Light off.” *flick* Allie looked up at the light again, then pointed up at it. “Light on!” *flick* “Light off.” *flick* *point* “Light on!” I announced, quickly regretting starting this game. *flick* “Light off.” *flick* *point* This went on for some time until I managed to distract her by pretending to loudly eat her foot.

Yes, we did go to Claudio’s girlfriend Jenny’s bday shindig on Saturday. Allie had a late nap, so we didn’t leave the house until after 4pm, arriving at 4:35p, and then wandering around the condo complex on foot getting lost for 15-20 minutes before finding the right place. The party was Hawaiian-themed and they put out quite a spread.

My parents had observed in photos that when Allie’s among strangers and feeling uncomfortable, she sucks in her lower lip tightly and doesn’t smile. She’s certainly doing that in these photos and clung on to me throughout the hour or so we were there, but we didn’t have time for her to warm up to everyone. We met the more important people, tho, like the birthday girl Jenny:

Uncky Andrae:

Tio Claudio:

Here’s Allie demonstrating the pointing thing, and it has the same effect on Uncky Andrae.

Allie: Look over there!
Andrae: Oh yes, I see…I think…
I got a good laugh out of how Andrae just automatically follows points, even a baby’s.
Unfortunately, the food came out late and we pushed Allie’s bedtime as much as we dared while we waited for Andrae (who said he’d overslept during his nap) to show up, but still missed dinner. We did have some ahi poke one of Jenny’s friends made (delish!) and Claudio’s BBQ’ed chicken looked and smelled teasingly delicious, too. It was 6pm when we got back to the car, and I zoomed back home, wanting to leave before Allie had a bedtime meltdown. She had a little fit in the car starting around 6:15p, upset that she was tired and not going thru her bedtime routine, yet, but went down fine by 7p when we got her in the house at 6:30p. Poor Mr. W. He was all hungry from the almost-dinner he had, but was piteously just going to drink water and play Diablo 3 for the rest of the night, so after I put the baby down, I made some noodle soup for dinner (not instant Ramen). He still got to spend the rest of the night playing Diablo, and I read myself to sleep upstairs.

I feel like I constantly have to defend or justify my parenting choices and philosophy from people who feel I should or shouldn’t do what I’m not or am doing. It’s like the epidural thing — just because I had my reasons in not using it doesn’t mean that I’m telling others to choose my choices or that my choices are better than their choices; they were MY choices for ME given what I feel is right for my personal situations, and I feel like others who made different choices for themselves get defensive and bash me over the head and tell me my choices are wrong or stupid. One that I’d supported on all her decisions even if I wouldn’t have made those decisions for myself once said about one of my decisions, “How could you choose to do that? You’re crazy.” I was so peeved. I don’t tell THEM that about THEIR choices. Every decision I make is what I believe to be in Allie’s best interest, even if it IS a little to my own detriment, but I’m okay with that, and I’ve chosen that with full knowledge.

Okay, so I’m diligent in only going out AROUND Allie’s naptimes and getting her home in time for her naps, so I miss out either partially or completely on parties and events that take place during or thru her naps. This is temporary, and it’s to help her become a better rested, healthier, and happier baby. I see it in her. She IS healthy. She IS happy. And believe me, I’ve also seen when she was not well-rested, not happy, cuz she’s very loud when that’s the situation. I can not handle that level of stress anymore. Even hearing a random baby’s wail at work almost sends me spiraling into an anxiety attack.

Ever since the pediatrician suggested we put Allie straight down into her crib for naps now, Jayne’s done it at my direction, and Allie has even seemed to prefer NOT to be held and soothed to sleep. The past 2 days, that’s 4 consecutive naps, she’s leaned toward her crib (I’ve experienced this last weekend, as well) during her soothing period as if she’s asking to go straight in. Jayne reports that after putting Allie in the crib, Jayne leaves immediately and Allie complains or cries for less than a minute before she starts playing a bit by herself, and within 10-15 minutes, she lays down and goes to sleep. These naps have been between 75 minutes to 90 minutes each. To me, that means Allie is confident and mature enough to recognize and obey what her body needs without parental assistance or insistence. It was the ultimate nap goal for me — a baby so used to getting her sleep needs taken care of that she EXPECTS and WANTS to rest. Even Jayne remarks on the difference between happy rested Allie and tired cranky Allie. And the medical professionals are certainly happy with me. And I can’t even remember the last time Allie woke up in the middle of the night and needed to be tended to; if she wakes up with a wail here or there (probably from a nightmare), give her a minute and she’ll settle right back to sleep. (Knowing that about her, if she wakes up crying dramatically or continuously, I’ll know that she needs to be attended to, as opposed to waking up and calling for me cuz she wants to play or wants me to respond due to a night-waking habit.)

I’m hoping I have as much success this weekend. Regardless, we have plans to attend Claudio’s girlfriend Jenny’s birthday party after Allie wakes up from her 2nd nap and we’ll make sure we’re home in time to go thru her bedtime routine before bed. That doesn’t leave a lot of time between 4p, when the event starts, and 6p, but that’s okay by me. Allie’s needs come first, and it’s a good compromise. She’ll finally get to meet Uncle Andrae this weekend, too.

I had a rather unproductive pump session earlier where the total amount in the collection bottles came out to be just under the amount I consider the minimum before I’m happy to use a storage bag on it (currently, this minimum is 3 ounces). So I swirled and tapped and rolled the collection bottles, investing disproportional amounts of time in trying to get every last drop, and I concentrated so hard on this task that I ended up spilling a portion of the bottle’s contents on the linoleum floor.

Not happy, but I get the point. And I don’t even need Allie to point it out, which is one of her favorite things to do these days, i.e.:
*Allie pointing up*
“That’s a fan, baby. See it spin?”
*Allie pointing at me*
“Yes, I’m mommy!”
*Allie pointing at my mouth*
“Ahhhh.” [I’m opening my mouth.]
*Allie pointing at my teeth*
[I make crunching sound effects as I pretend to eat her finger]
*Allie laughs*

Lactation nurse Kelsie said yesterday that if Allie bites me while nursing and breaks skin, I need to take care of the injury ASAP because baby mouths have more bacteria than dogs’ mouths and I’d be at risk for an infection. Usually, just cleansing and rubbing some expressed milk around the area will do. This is because breastmilk is antibacterial thanks to something in there called [something she said but that I don’t remember], which are cells that go around actually eating bacteria. I immediately thought that would be a very cool thing to see under the microscope. They should’ve shown a documentary video clip of that in my pregnancy breastfeeding class. That would’ve been so interesting.
And then I thought, what if this bacteria-eating cell were pitted against a flesh-eating bacteria? Who would win? They are each others’ food source. Has anyone in the medical research profession actually tested this? Maybe the cure for a necrotizing soft tissue infection is to just dunk the patient in a vat of breast milk. Or maybe have lactating women stand around and aim and spray.

*keeping an eye on blog stats to see what creepy search engine phrases land people on this post*

(Giant zucchini from my courtroom assistant’s garden yesterday. It will soon be incorporated in Allie’s meals for the next, oh, month. In addition to other things, of course; currently in the freezer are pureed cauliflower, purple yam, sweet potato, a prior batch of zucchini, peach, pear. In the cabinet are pureed prunes and a variety of baby cereal: white rice, brown rice, oatmeal & banana, and mixed grains minus the allergenic wheat.)

Allie has been going through some changes. She’s resisting her napping for the 2nd week or so now. She’d fight her naptimes and then crash later from sheer exhaustion. She popped out her 5th tooth yesterday, right next to her bottom front-left tooth, so I figured maybe that was it, but she once again had shown no sign of any teething discomfort. The tooth was a surprise.

I spent 20 minutes on the phone yesterday with lactation nurse Kelsie, whom I’m familiar with and had all of my lactation clinic visits with, and another 20 minutes with Allie’s regular pediatrician, Dr. T.
Lactation Nurse re Calories
Kelsie noted that Allie’s weight had dropped to the 66th percentile although her height has remained in the 99th, but didn’t find it an alarming dip. She said babies are so active and growing at this age that the quick weight gains of early babyhood no longer apply. She asked where Allie’s sources of fat come from, and aside from breastmilk, I couldn’t think of any. Kelsie suggested avocado, which is the ONE THING Allie had rejected. I guess I’ll re-introduce it. “She doesn’t need a lot, so you can just hide it inside a food she does eat, like sweet potatoes,” Kelsie suggested. She said the only thing of possible concern for her based on what I was saying about Allie is that according to Jayne, Allie seems to still be hungry after bottlefeedings and solids feedings, so maybe higher fat in her foods would help the stomach stay fuller longer.
Re Waning Milk Supply
As for my milk supply, Kelsie was impressed I was still breastfeeding, saying that she often gets calls from moms who ask resentfully, “Do I still have to keep doing this? When can I stop?!” She says at 8 months, we’re approaching the end of milk being the main supply of nutrition for the baby, so we’re almost done. Babies at 1 year typically only nurse twice a day, morning and night, and all their other nutrition comes from foods outside of breastmilk. I’ve dropped an OUNCE per pumping since that maintenance guy walked in on me, which means I’m only getting 2-3 ounces per pump session at work, and 6-7 ounces at 4:30 a.m., which isn’t enough to keep up with demand and my freezer supply cushion is starting to show it. Kelsie says this is a normal drop as my body is responding to Allie’s lesser demands for milk now that she’s been on solids for a couple of months. This is how the body follows child-led weaning. It’s nothing I did or didn’t do.

Pediatrician re Milk & Food
In speaking to the pediatrician Dr. T, he said to hold off on meat until 9 months and to keep breastmilk the primary source of nutrition through this 8th month if possible. He said all the protein the baby needs now, she gets from breastmilk. If it really seems like my milk supply can’t keep up, then I can start adding more solids, increasing the frequency of feedings from 2-3 times a day to 3-4 times a day and that would encourage her to decrease demand on milk, altho it’s best to let this happen naturally at after 9 months. The variety of foods is good for acclimating her palate to different healthy foods, and if she’s doing well with new flavors now, it’s likely a good sign that she won’t have issues switching to cow’s milk at 1 year. Babies who are picky with flavor may need to be transitioned to cow’s (whole) milk with a breastmilk/cow milk blend, then slowly cut back on the percentage of breastmilk. Although there’s nothing “magical” about 9 months, he clarified, I should still make every effort to bridge the gap between 8 and 9 months so that I don’t need to put her on formula to supplement. Adding formula after all these months of breastmilk would only “invite problems,” such as with digestive issues and taste adjustments. But he agrees with the lactation nurse to also increase Allie’s bottlefeedings of breastmilk if Allie seems hungry after feedings, saying increase her 7-oz bottles to 8 oz, and her 5-oz late-day bottle to 7. So now the pressure’s on a little bit. Must.produce.more.milk.
Re Nap Resistance
With the napping disruptions, Dr. T suggested that we do either the delayed-response method or cry-it-out method. Allie has enough memory now to realize that things are different between the time she went to nap and the time she wakes up, even in things like the lighting from the sun, which means she missed something. “Babies used to think nothing happens when they nap; now they know that life goes on outside of their napping, and they don’t want to be left out.” So they’ll fight sleep. He suggested a 20-25 minute consistent naptime routine that will tell her, “We’re about to have naptime,” and then soothe her to sleep and put her in her crib. If she cries or fights the soothing, to end it and put her in her crib and leave. If she cries in the crib, to let her cry herself to sleep so she knows there are no exceptions. The fact is, she IS tired at all the regular times, but she just has more motivation to fight it and keep playing now. Jayne did leave her in her crib awake during a late nap yesterday, and reported that Allie put herself down after less than a minute of complaining. “If you want her to stick to her regular naps, and most babies her age still need 2 naps a day, you need to do this now or it’ll be harder to get her to do this at 15 months.” He doesn’t think this will be very difficult, since Allie already sleeps 10-11 hours through the night so that means she wakes up on her own and puts herself back to sleep on her own. Now she just needs to learn that dark or not, sleeping time is sleeping time.
Re Teeth Care
As far as teeth go, Dr. T said we can now buy a baby toothbrush and start brushing her teeth and gums with just water one or two times a day. This isn’t for any intensive cleaning, but it’s to get her used to the sensation so she won’t fight the toothbrush when she actually DOES need to be brushed daily, after she’s a year old.
Re Allie’s Weight
Re Allie being slender, Dr. T said that babies being chubby at 4 months or so are a result of mom’s nutrition, what she ate while pregnant, what she ate while nursing, etc. At this point, the child’s build is based on her own metabolism taking over so we’re seeing the shape Allie is naturally inclining toward. I guess she’s not going to be a fat kid. Then again, I was rail-thin to the point of concern for my parents until 6 years old, when we immigrated to this country and I discovered processed fast foods. =P

Both of them were super-impressed with the fresh organic purees I’d been making and feeding Allie. Dr. T, who also specializes in child nutrition, says this is exactly the kind of nutrition a baby needs to be on at this age, fruits and veggies and some grains, and breastmilk. Kelsie said she wishes all mothers could be more like me. All I know is that I want what’s best for Allie and will do what’s in my control to contribute toward that, and I am SO LUCKY I have a support system who does exactly this, so that I don’t even know of any other way. My cousin Jennifer breastfed as long as she could until her body couldn’t/wouldn’t produce anymore when she went back to work. Flip flop girl (Christi) nursed, pumped, pureed, cooked, and has been an invaluable source of information and experience for me. College roommie Diana does all the same things and with a baby close to Allie’s age, we’ve swapped experiences and tips and suggestions. I think all this would’ve been a nearly unsurmountable learning curve if not for these women in my life.

While I was at Ruby’s bridal shower yesterday, Ruby’s fiance (Edgar)’s mom walked in late. I’ve known Edgar since we were both 14, and I’ve spent a significant part of that time as Edgar’s best friend, so I’m quite familiar with his mother. Since moving out of my parents’ house, however, I’ve rarely had occasion to see Edgar’s parents, who live in my parents’ neighborhood.

So I waved at Edgar’s mom. She looked at me and then said, in a surprised voice, “You are Cindy!” Why, yes, I am. “I almost didn’t recognize you because you look so different!” she said. I did a polite chuckle. She kept going. “You look SO different! Wow!”
“Thank you…?” I said unsurely. Because of the unsure tone, she thought she ought to clarify, apparently.
“You used to be, kind of…” She puffed her cheeks out with air and cupped her hands out on either side of her face, as if indicating that my cheeks used to extend out 4 inches on either side of my face. Everyone at our table was staring at her now, and looking back at me. She kept elaborating. “You used to be chubby, but now you look good!”
I gave another polite laugh. “Thank you,” I said, because I couldn’t really say anything else.
“No, really! Try to maintain like this! You look much better now! I’m not lying to you, I have no reason to pat your horse on its rear.” (Chinese euphemism for BS-ing for the purpose of ass-kissing.) She kept on for a little bit, and all I could do was the polite laugh and the thanks.

I told Mr. W about this when I got home, and he laughed and said, “Asian moms are so tactless.” I didn’t even tell him about the amount of time she’d later spent on advising me to have more children, because having just one child take care of me/us in my old age is too big a burden so for Allie’s sake, I should give her some siblings. And not too far apart in age, either, because I’d want them to close enough to communicate effectively with each other when the time comes to take over our affairs. One-and-a-half years apart is ideal, but definitely not three years. I’d thought about Mr. W’s other 2 kids, 2 decades older than Allie, and how we no longer have embryos in our possession, but decided not to mention any of that. After all, she’s not MY mother-in-law. =P

Oh, and apparently, I’m supposed to have bangs, too. Not straight flat bangs, but sideswept bangs. I explained that I pull all my hair back now because the baby grabs at it, and was given temporary reprieve from obeying her advice on my appearance.

(This was at Tranquil Tea Lounge, btw.)

(videos courtesy my parents, who came over yesterday, took these, and emailed them to me today. if you understand Mandarin, you may get a kick out of my parents’ conversation on the videos. most of the voices are theirs, and I wasn’t even present at the time the videos were taken, except for the couple in which I’m feeding Allie)

Allie turns 8 months tomorrow. Aside from minor setbacks here and there, things have been pretty nice. Today, she resisted both her naps despite being tired enough to fall asleep on us before the transfer to the crib. I had to give up after a few failed transfers wherein she ended up crying as soon as she hit the crib, and I took her out of her room, went downstairs for awhile, and tried again half an hour later with no problems. The neighbor doing his weed-wacking and lawn-mowing woke her up in just half an hour, though. The second nap was Mr. W’s doing. I had gone to Ruby’s bridal shower. Reportedly, Allie resisted the 1pm nap despite falling asleep on Mr. W while they walked back from lunch across the street, so Mr. W did the same thing — took her out, tried again in half an hour, and she slept for over 90 minutes. Things like that happening are about the worst it gets most of the time. She’s been amazingly healthy; no ear infections, ailments outside of that first bout with RSV, diaper rashes, or teething issues *knocking on wood*. No serious injuries aside from stuff like what happened yesterday on Mr. W’s watch, when she banged her head on her Exersaucer from the outside 3 times, hit her face on the side of the couch on her way down, nearly choked on a piece of peach that Mr. W fed her from a slice, and swallowed liquid bath soap. =P No, she’s not eating whole foods yet, altho yesterday while we were out having a salad, we did take the shell off some cooked peas and let her gum the inside soft slippery part. That went well and she liked it. Other stuff she likes:
* eating her homemade purees. (I’m also having a blast making all sorts of purees for her; never would’ve thought.) So far the only thing she’s really rejected was avocado, and we’d only tried it once. I figure, more for me! (in the food videos below, she’s trying cauliflower for the first time)

* doing things for laughs, such as making funny faces and doing fake coughs. A favorite funny face of hers is wrinkling up her nose while snorting in and out loudly with teeth bared.

* playing peek-a-boo around corners or behind furniture with us, and with fabric covering her/our face (burp cloth over her head, us saying, “Where’s Allie?” as she dramatically pulls the cloth down. “There’s Allie!” we’d say in relief as she laughs. Then, “Where’s mommy?” She pulls the cloth off my head. “HERE I am!” She laughs.)
* drinking water from a straw. No, not sucking it out, yet. We plug up one end of the straw with a thumb and offer the bottom of the straw to her. She sees it coming and her mouth’s already wide open, waiting.
* climbing stairs by herself. Jayne told us they were practicing this on Friday, so of course this weekend, we had to see for ourselves.

* crawling on the tile. We try to keep her on the soft living room rug, but she beelines for the travertine. It’s a losing battle because Jayne lets her crawl there. We try to preserve her tender little knees and knee-skin.
* pulling herself up and standing (in the video below, I can tell by my dad’s sound effects that he’s opening and closing his hands at her, and she mimics him to my parents’ surprised delight)

* being wrapped in a hooded towel as she’s handed off to me coming out of a warm bath (biggest smile ever. we don’t get it, but it always makes Mr. W laugh)
* rubbing her face on and stroking soft furry things, such as the monogrammed “A” blanket Auntie Jordan gave her, and her fuzzy bear from the Sheriff’s Dept. Both of them seem to send her right to sleep.
* showing signs of excitement, like “jumping” (except her feet don’t actually leave the ground), clapping, waving her arms left and right, opening and closing her hands to show happiness or to respond to a greeting

* playing with anything that’s not a toy (diapers, tubes of ointment, plastic bags, crinkly paper, cardboard boxes, paper bags… she’s basically Dodo)
* and oh, yes, she loves Dodo. She’ll freeze in anything she’s doing if he meows or passes by and watch him, even if he’s not doing anything. (Dodo, on the other hand, generally ignores her because he’s learned that if he gets too close, she’ll grab his fur hard and pull, like she does to her mommy’s hair.)

Stuff that makes her complain…loudly:
* being put on her back for a diaper change or clothing change, especially during the nighttime routine (she’ll squirm, kick, twist, crawl away, making the entire experience twice as long as it has to be. giving her a Pooh character from her mobile has been working recently, as it’ll absorb her for the few minutes it should take for us to do what we need to do)
* bedtime reading (man, she’s impatient. this has mostly been cured by making sure she’s not too tired, and gets her own cardboard book to chew on while we read her another one)
* going into the carseat in the car (oddly, she has no problem with going into the carseat carrier in the house, and being carried into the car and snapped in. returning to the carseat and being buckled in from inside the car is the problem.)
* anyone who was interacting with her visibly walking away from her (this is new)

This doesn’t fall into either category, but surprised us all the same — she understands and is obedient to the word “no.” When she’s crawling along the floor going for the Glade Plug-In, Mr. W has told her “no” when she reaches for it. She may reach for it another time or two as if to make sure this is the activity we’re forbidding, and if he continues with a firm “no,” she’ll give up, but look at it longingly. Yesterday, she was so excited having a puree she enjoyed that she “hopped” up and down in her seat, kicked her legs, said “Mmm! Mmm! Mmm!” and clapped and swung her arms back and forth repeatedly. Sometimes our motions would be unfortunately simultaneous and she’d end up clapping the approaching spoon and causing a mess. Mr. W told her “no,” and “stay still,” and each mouthful after that, she was very, very still and careful, altho she’d wave around after the spoon has been removed. But as soon as she opens her mouth, signaling readiness for another bite, she would be very still and quiet. This lasted until the end of that feeding. It was remarkable.
She also understands “You wanna come out?” when she’s in the carseat, high chair, Exersaucer, swing, walker. If she wants out, she’d lift her arms toward me when I ask.
One thing she understands and no longer obeys is “let go.” The girl is a human velcro. Now we have to gently remove certain things from her grasp, i.e. drinking straw, my hair. Ouch on the latter.

She’s still being nursed to sleep at night. I have no idea what to do when she’s weaned, but meanwhile, I’m enjoying this. After she dozes off on the Boppy and I ready her to be picked up by lifting her head slightly with my left hand and sliding my right arm quickly underneath so that her head rests against the inside of my right elbow, I give her a few seconds to fall back to sleep while cradled in my arms. At these moments, I frequently look down at her and marvel at her delicate, cherubic sleeping face. The long dark lashes, the sympathetic-looking curvature of her eyebrows, her cute little round nose, sculpted lips, rounded cheeks, softly pointed chin, the growing downy fuzziness of her hair on her still-visible scalp. Her features and lines are as flawless as a drawing, but imagination alone couldn’t have come up with this combination of details that works so perfectly together. My little girl. Thanks for the past 8 months, Allie. Looking forward to the many, many more.

My email inbox opened today on really old stuff from 2006. Seeing some interesting subject lines, I opened a few old emails and smiled, frowned, and mused in reading some of my history with friends from over half a decade ago. I even re-sent some to the friends on the email, just for kicks. “Hey, remember his? How things have changed.” I’ve always thought I had a more-than-decent memory, but there were some teaser emails I have no impression of, like one between me and college roommie Diana where we were about to get into something juicy and instead of writing it, she wrote, “Call me and I’ll tell you,” and then there were 3-4 follow-up emails arranging for the call, making sure we were both available, what numbers to call on, and then…nothing. WHAT HAPPENED? WHAT DID SHE TELL ME? WAS IT ABOUT A BOY? I DON’T REMEMBER AND I WANNA KNOW! It was most likely about a boy.

And then I saw an email from a guy who was my boss for something like a few months before he’d decided to leave the County and go into private industry. He was nice to me, and had defended me against some workplace unfairness he’d perceived and fought a battle that I really wasn’t even planning to fight myself. He made me feel a little weird, a little uncomfortable sometimes. Anyway, the email from him was just one line, which appeared to be in Latin. It looked like nonsensical spam or the remnants of a virus, when someone’s email gets hacked. But the sign-off with his first name made me think maybe it wasn’t spam. Spam doesn’t sign off. I *think* that back in ’06, I may have thought it was spam and not responded, because there’s no indication on that email that it was ever replied to. Anyhow, the one line is:

Is eram meus vicis ut leave.Hope totus est puteus vobis.

I ran the line through Google translator. It came back with “It was my time to leave.Hope all is well with you.” I guess it wasn’t spam. Why did he feel the need to write that all cryptically in Latin? It was from his personal email, not work email. Maybe I’d been right to feel uncomfortable about him.

Mr. W and I took this past Monday off and set off with Allie on Saturday morning for her first trip to Vegas. It’s not the kind of trip you’d expect. We were going to visit his parents, 2 brothers and the brothers’ families, not to play on The Strip. It would be Allie’s first time meeting everyone in his family aside from his parents, who had visited us in California when Allie was about 3 months old.

Allie did really well on the drive there. Given that Mr. W makes a 5 hours drive in more like 3 hours, we didn’t spend that much time in the car. When her regular 9 a.m. naptime rolled around in the car, Allie just simply went to sleep on her own in her carseat. When she awoke, we stopped for a diaper change and feeding in Baker, took her into an old restaurant, plopped her in a high chair while we had lunch, she people-watched and drank water dropped into her mouth from a straw, then we hit the road again. 12:30p rolled around quickly and she went to sleep again. Unfortunately, that nap only lasted half an hour because Mr. W drove too fast. We got to Allie’s grandparents’ house by 1:30p and immediately commenced to turn their living room into Allie’s playground.

Allie’s wearing a Cubs outfit because it was a gift from a coworker, who kinda assumed that because Mr. W’s family is from Chicago that he’d be a Cubs fan. He’s a White Sox fan, as with most members of his family, except for Rocker Bro. I sent this photo to Rocker Bro with the caption, “Hi Uncle Jimmy, guess where I am!” It was a quiet relaxing Saturday at grandma and grandpa’s, and we set up Allie’s playyard/bed in a spare room, blasted white noise on her iPad (yes, HER iPad, Mr. W’s 1st generation that he’d replaced with the 3rd generation), and she went down for the night on time like a pro. She did wake up and wail twice, the first because the clocks at the house chimed each hour with a lot of sound effects, and Mr. W’s parents took the battery out of that clock for the rest of the weekend. The second wake-up, she just gave a wail, then a whimper, and was quiet again. It was a challenge with no cameras to know what was going on in there, but I didn’t want to open the door and go in to check on her because that may wake her up, and if she sees me, she wasn’t going to go back to sleep.

On Sunday, it was crazy meet the family day. Everyone and their mothers (and grandmothers and grandchildren and babies) came to the house to hang out throughout the day. Allie was GREAT with all the new faces, and she in particular liked to crawl to the little girls, reach out her hand, and interact with them. She taught Rocker Bro how to crawl…

…she had her first rocking horse ride…

…she showed everyone how she now stands, and claps (started clapping Friday), and makes funny faces. See funny face in 24-second video below. 😀

Naps were challenging that day because the noise level was high, but she still went down in her room at grandma and grandpa’s and was transferred into the play yard just fine. She didn’t stay down long for the second nap, just 30 minutes, but you’d never know it by how well-tempered she was into the evening, even tho we had to delay her bedtime by an hour because people were still over. I ended up just staying in the room with her for the second nap, hiding behind the blocked-off section of her play yard, because I wouldn’t be able to check on her to see if she was awake from outside of the room without opening the door and letting in immense volumes of people laughing, TV blasting, kids running around playing. Who would nap when they’d rather be out joining in that much fun, right? Even tho that nap was short, I was pleasantly surprised how the white noise eliminated a large amount of outside voices, except for the sounds of metal hitting counters or kids running and screaming close to her room. She slept pretty well that night with no audible wake-ups.

The car ride home was more of the same; her morning naptime hit, she yawned and just went to sleep. When she woke up from that first nap, we were a bit far from stuff so she got a little impatient, straining against the seat belt and yelling to be let out. I had to entertain her with songs, hand-tricks, pretenses of eating her foot and hand, all of which worked for only so long before I had to resort to what I didn’t want to — a cartoon video of some Miss Spider’s Tea Party something-or-other on iPad. She watched that for awhile and when she once again got impatient, thankfully we got to a shopping retail outlet and pulled over. I changed her in a relatively empty food court restroom’s baby station, but there was nowhere to feed her. I decided that a Maidenform employee was more apt to help me than a Guess employee, so I popped my head into the store and asked across the racks of bras on sale, “I’m sorry, I have a random question. Do you know where there may be a restroom with a lounge where I can nurse my baby?” The employee pointed out a couple of possibilities, but then offered her store’s changing room. She said the benches in there aren’t too comfortable, but it’s private and quiet and air-conditioned. I thanked her gratefully for her very generous offer and were shown to a room. Allie took a look around once we were in and let out an amused half-chuckle.
“Huh!” she said.
“I know this is weird, but it works!” I told her. And she ate and ate until her little tummy was round. We walked around the outlet a bit after that, bought her some cute outfits at Old Navy, then got back in the car. Remember the bear from the sheriff’s department she’s addicted to sleeping on? It put her right to sleep for her second nap, too. She was SO HAPPY to see it.

Many babies have a security toy, stuffed animal, or blankie…my kid has a giant bear rug.

Mr. W flew home amidst warning indicator lights and beeps that came on in his car that said “PROBLEM.” We dropped his car off at the dealership maintenance department soon after we got home and unpacked. Turned out the oil was so low that he may have damaged his engine, as for each hard turn or hard braking he did, the oil would drop below the sensor level and set off the indicator warning. He’s going to try just topping off the oil regularly instead of spending $4K on a new engine just yet. Ack.

Just for poops and giggles, here’s a 2-minute clip from Monday after our return home, when Allie was playing with Mr. W. She likes to arch her back now and see the world upside-down, like I did when I was her age.

And here’s a video of something Mr. W was excited about all weekend, Allie standing on her own and clapping. He kept saying Allie stood for like 10 seconds unsupported and clapped, but I never saw it, cuz every time I came over from making her next batch of new food puree (sweet potatoes this time!), she’d see me and get distracted and not do it. She’d wave and smile at me, tho. In this video, she does stand and clap, but not for 10 seconds. (The couch behind her is plush leather on the bottom and sides, and plush microfiber on top, so don’t worry, there aren’t hard edges for her to fall against.)

Here’s something else we discovered on Monday. She now holds the bottle by herself! We don’t bottlefeed her because when we’re home, she’s exclusively nursed, but I’d wanted to use up some milk that Jayne had out and thawed but didn’t use.

I wonder what else she does that we aren’t aware of. Maybe she sells original artwork and sculptures online.

We had a new person, also a vet hospital technician, come by and medicate Dodo day and night. She cost double what the other girl (who was not available last weekend) charged, but it was okay by me to pay her $20 each trip because Dodo was in good hands. Catherine loves cats, has cats of her own, is used to taking care of animals at her job, and even plans to get a Scottish Fold like Dodo as her next cat. I got text updates from her telling me how everything was going at the house, and she even stayed after meds to clean up after Dodo’s litter, make sure food/water is clean and plentiful, and give him lots of love and attention.

Okay, this is going to be one of those “my misery = your entertainment” posts.

The courthouse doesn’t provide a private area where I can go pump (for breastmilk) during my working hours, so I use my jury deliberation room attached and adjacent to my courtroom when we’re not in trial and we don’t have jurors. I hang a “SORRY, OCCUPIED” sign on the door, close the jury room door and switch on the double electric pump at the far end sitting at a small table toward the back.

This morning, my judge was using the jury room for a mandatory settlement conference on a case, and when he does that during a pump time, he invites me to use his private chambers to pump, telling me to lock his door, so I did. When I came back to the courtroom, my courtroom assistant told me that the building’s maintenance guy just walked right through the courtroom earlier toward the jury room, unresponsive to her calling out, “Excuse me! Excuse me! Can I help you, sir? Excuse me!” and opened the door into the jury room and went right in. You would think someone who works for a courthouse would know better than to just barge into closed rooms, especially during working hours. Lots of confidential stuff goes on around here (as with the settlement conference), and it would be a pretty big problem if there had been a jury in there deliberating. The courtroom assistant said he must’ve been turned away by the judge, because he came back out looked a little bewildered, and she explained to him that there’s a conference taking place in the room. He said he first saw that we weren’t having a trial, and she told him there are other things that happen in a courtroom aside from trials, such as what he’d walked in on. In telling me this story, she added, “What if you were in there pumping and I wasn’t here and he just walked in?” I said well, I would think that he’d have learned from this morning and would now know better than to just barge into a closed room. She offered that, for my lunchtime pumping, if I would wait for her to come back from lunch she’d sit outside the jury room and guard it. I laughed, but can’t wait because I would need to pump in the middle of lunch, not after it.

So after lunch, I put the sign on the door, closed it, settled into my chair, turned on the pumps, and attached myself to it. A minute later, sure enough, the door opened suddenly behind me, no warning, no knock. I turned my head and called out as the maintenance guy’s bearded head appeared, “I’m in here, I need some privacy, please!”
He pointed toward the bathroom, still coming in. “I just need to –”
“No, I need some privacy.”
He pointed again, taking another step in. “I’m just gonna –”
“No, no,” I shook my head emphatically at him. “Please close the door.”
He started in and said, “So I’ll just go ahead?”
“No. No. No. I’m pumping.” As he started in again, I said, “No. No. I’m pumping!”
“So I can’t –” He started saying.
I cut him off again, not believing I’m sitting here still arguing with him. “No. I’m pumping. I need privacy, please. Close the door now, thank you.” He started to say something again, and I said very firmly, “Please. Close the door, please.” OMG. He finally left.

After that disruption, I sat in disbelief, and got more and more upset as I saw that my body was not having a let-down. I’d heard that if interrupted or startled, a mother’s body will not release milk. I did not want to find out that it’s true, but apparently, it is true. All that time wasted sitting there trying to get milk to come out, more time wasted washing and drying pump parts, all for less than 2 ounces of milk. Allie could slurp that up and not even notice she’d swallowed anything (a bottle feeding for her is 7, 7.5 ounces). THAT pissed me off more than anything. I didn’t even waste a milk storage bag on it, just poured it into small storage vial and stuck it in the fridge.

I called the coordinator person who had called for the maintenance guy and told her that I know the guy was just doing his job, and he’s a very effective repair-person and a good guy, but if he’s working in a courthouse, he NEEDS to know certain common sense things about being here during working hours. I explained what happened this morning and when I got to the part about what happened earlier when I was in there, she gave a loud gasp. I said that given that he thinks he’s exempt to closed doors and signs and doesn’t even knock or anything before going into places, what if I’d been in the bathroom PEEING when he went in to fix the faucet drip? I’d have to convince him to leave from the other side of the stall?! I realized I was practically yelling on the phone and realized soon after that I have no control over my volume or tone, so I just told her in the same yelling emphatic voice I’d been using through this entire conversation, “Can you to talk to him, please? I can’t talk to him, I’m too worked up right now. And please be nice, I know he was just doing his job, but he doesn’t get it.” She laughed and said she understood, she’ll talk to him, and nicely.

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