September 2012

Yesterday, Allie was eating a powerful nutrition house of veggies for part of her dinner: baked beets with baked sweet potato and steamed variety of baby kale. You need only google the nutritional content of those three items to know she’s got more vitamins, amino acids, phytonutrients, antioxidants, blah blah in that little dish than many adults have all day.

Mr. W was feeding and said in a mocking tone to the stepdaughter to come see or try what Allie’s eating, and the junk food fan of the family’s response was that what Allie’s eating is “disgusting.”

Insulting someone else’s food is the second biggest peeve I have (the first is being mis-accused of something I’m innocent of; I will instantaneously fly off the handle, don’t even get me started). I don’t care if someone’s picky; picky is a personal preference (altho open-minded eaters are more fun to eat with). But making negative comments is a voluntary behavior.

There was a girl, Lauren, in my junior high school whom everyone picked on. She basically had no friends and I was new to the school and I didn’t know why she was so unpopular. She was a bit homely, but not everyone in junior high is going to dress like a rich girl. I made the effort to talk to her a few times and we laughed together, I enjoyed the conversation, and almost the moment I told someone I really liked her and think I’d like to be her friend, she enacted the peeve. I was eating a zhong zi at lunchtime, which we jokingly call a “Chinese tamale.” It is seasoned sticky rice with roasted pork, mushrooms, some other veggies, wrapped in a bamboo leaf and steamed, so that the fragrance of the bamboo is infused in the rice when the leaf pouch is opened. It had always been a favorite item of mine since very early childhood. Lauren walked by and pointed and said really loudly, “WHAT is THAT? Ew!” and laughed. I was instantly annoyed. Before I could even begin to tell her what it was, she went on, “You’re eating a LEAF! Hahaha! What are you, a rabbit? Haha!” She looked around to see if anyone else was going to join in to mock my lunch. I was kind of incredulous that she was trying to incite an anti-Cindy fiasco when I was her only friend. No one joined in, altho some looked at her rather blankly. I forgot what I said to her, but I’m sure it was something irrate. Her response was, “Well I’m SORRY, I’ve just never known anyone who eats GREEN LEAVES before! HAHA!” I was too disgusted with her to bother pointing out that apparently, no one she knows eats salads or leafy green vegetables. AND, you don’t eat the leaf part of my lunch. I made her go away instead. And I didn’t befriend her after all.

Michelle is a former “friend” on the social networking site who seemed cool and spunky and I’d really liked her, up until she started commenting on photos I’d post of stuff I was eating/drinking. I didn’t really know her; she was married to a guy I was close with back in the day, so when his wife friend-requested me, I’d accepted. They’d moved to Texas, and she eats like a Texan, apparently. Loves beef, potatoes, large portions, burgers, sodas, deep-fried foods, and lived on Taco Bell imitation meat when she was pregnant. I knew from a nutrition stand-point that she could do better in her food choices, but it wasn’t my place to say anything, so I only commented when I could be truthfully supportive in something. SHE, on the other hand, constantly commented on my photos of fresh carrot+ginger+beet juice, caramelized fig & onion tartlet, homemade mushroom & zucchini pizzas on spelt and flaxseed whole grain crust with stuff like, “That’s disgusting.” “OMG, I don’t think we can be friends anymore.” “Ew, gross.”

I don’t care if there are foods out there you would never touch with a 10-foot pole. Don’t touch them. I don’t care if you’re not adventurous, I don’t care if you’re picky, because it’s not my problem if you decide to miss out on all the great stuff out there. And some people have preferences for things I don’t. Some friends are texture-sensitive, others are flavor-sensitive, and some just plain ol’ love salty deep-fried stuff that I wouldn’t eat because I’m trying to be more aware of health. BUT…don’t go pointing at someone’s food while they’re eating, sneer, and make a judgment call that insults their food, makes them feel like a freak for eating something perfectly fine and healthy, because that only makes YOU look ignorant, closed-minded, picky, and rude! And when the food being picked on is a superfood, you look uneducated and unhealthy, too!


Now that I have a toddler (almost-toddler; I counted 17 independent steps last night before she somehow got confused which foot was supposed to lift next, lifted the same foot twice in a row, and then flew forward almost face-planting), I get to have more of those endearing “If I knew then what I know now” moments.

* Now: This week, Allie learned to wave and say “bye-bye” and then POINT to the door, basically throwing people out. She did this on Sunday to my parents as they got ready to leave, then she did it Monday evening to throw Jayne out after we got home, and Tuesday morning, she did it to us pointing to the garage door through which we leave after saying our morning goodbyes. She does it in the evenings as she says goodnight to daddy in her bedroom and then tries to close the door on Mr. W even tho his face is sometimes still in the room. Allie has also, just in the last day or two, started pointing upstairs to indicate that she’s tired and wants to take a nap or go down for the night.
* Then (cutting and pasting from an old e-mail between me and a former supervisor that I just stumbled upon, much to my amusement now. I’ve reversed the order so that it reads top to bottom):

>>> [SUPERVISOR] 7/1/2011 8:09 AM >>>
Good morning,
The $40 criminal security fee was originally scheduled to sunset on July 1, 2011, and return to $30, however SB78 extended the sunset date to July 1, 2013. So this fee will remain at $40 until that date.
If you have any questions please let me know.
Thank you.

>>> [CINDY] 7/5/2011 8:07 AM >>>
*raising hand*
I have a question. Is “sunset” the official legal term for expiration of temporary fee increases, or is that your own romantic euphemism?

>>> [SUPERVISOR] 7/5/2011 8:14 AM >>>
No, can’t take credit for “sunset”. It’s a political term of art approximating the terms “rational contraction” and “downsizing” to describe laying someone off of their job. Always remember, “never say what you mean or mean what you say”. Obfuscate the truth for political or personal gain. This is the way of the Representative Republic wherein the representatives sole responsibility is re-election.
Hope you had a happy Independence Day! God Save the King!

>>> [CINDY] 7/5/2011 8:16 AM >>>
*eyes glazing over*
Thanks! Thanks to you, I’ve learned that I’ve been doing things wrong. I thought I was supposed to be impeccable with my word, but apparently, that’s why I don’t have a yacht or a helicopter like a lot of politicians have. YOU, on the other hand, have a giant beautiful house with a gorgeous backyard… hmmmmmm…

>>> [SUPERVISOR] 7/5/2011 8:26 AM >>>
When someone, especially someone intelligent, raises their hand I feel obligated to give them the undiluted answer.
Oh, and the “gorgeous backyard” requires eight hours of yard work per week. It’s a Yin and Yang thing, or a communing with Nature thing, or something.
How’s the Kid kicking?!

>>> [CINDY] 7/5/2011 8:33 AM >>>
Good Lord, 8 hours a week! I’ve never said life wasn’t fair. Altho I’ve complained about it not being unfair in MY favor.
The kid’s been noticeably kicking since 15 weeks. We had a full-screen diagnostic ultrasound with radiology last Wednesday (at 20 weeks), and I laid there a LONG time while they took close to 100 ultrasound photos of organs, spinal columns, heart valves, etc. The radiologist said then that it looks like a girl. At one point, I watched the fetus barely raise her knee in a small jerk motion and I felt a now-familiar corresponding tap on the side of my abdomen. This must mean that future REAL movements, like actual kicks, are gonna be unignorable. I should just take maternity leave now. =P

>>> [SUPERVISOR] 7/5/2011 8:39 AM >>>
Even with all of the trials and tribulations of their growing up children are the only perfect things in the world (with the notable exceptions of ages 2 1/2-3 1/2 and 15). It’s like a roller coaster, scary, but well worth the ride.

>>> [CINDY] 7/5/2011 8:45 AM >>>
I’ll agree with you, altho I’d like to add my cat to the list of perfection (as I’m sure you’d add yours, heh) and I will let you know about what Allison does at 2.5 – 3.5 (aside from teaching her father how to properly use adverbs in his everyday speech and how to play the piano expressively), and at 15 (when I’m not too busy driving her to her academic decathlon award ceremonies and volunteer events). I should print out this email so she can laugh at me in 16 years.

>>> [SUPERVISOR] 7/5/2011 8:54 AM >>>
Spoken like a true first time parent-to-be! If Alison is anything like her Mother then the World gets another kind enlightened soul. Which we desperately need.
There is a quote from Benjamin Franklin that goes “beer is proof God loves us and wants us to be happy”. l think that the existence of cats is the inverse of that thought. My good wife strenuously disagrees with my view hence “our” four cats.

>>> [CINDY] 7/5/2011 9:00 AM >>>
Thank you for the compliment somewhere in that email. 🙂 I don’t actually expect to be able to dictate another human’s path in life, of course, altho I hope I can be influential enough so that whatever she does, she does well and with integrity and intention. Unless she’s a stripper. I hope she’d suck at that and be fired.
Re your thoughts on cats… =O! How rude.

>>> [SUPERVISOR] 7/5/2011 9:08 AM >>>
TIME is the most valuable thing a parent can give to their child. That’s what makes them grow to be honest, honorable, hard-working adults. At least that is what we have found to be true. Knowing you I’m sure Allison will be fine, without a doubt. Some people “have” children and others actually “raise” their children. I’m certain you will do the latter.
Cats are the spawn of black holes, anti-matter, and the “dark side”. That’s not rude, just a fact.
And, strippers are people too!

I received an email from Discover Card’s Fraud Prevention Team asking me to call them ASAP regarding some suspicious or unusual activity on my account. I immediately thought, “I know what this is,” and understandably, it DOES look suspicious. I had placed three custom orders online for gifts through a friend-of-a-friend business I’d never dealt with before, and the friend-of-a-friend’s website’s credit card payment function wasn’t working properly. I’d run my card through maybe 3-4 times, only to have it kicked back saying I didn’t provide all the information necessary, so I’d re-entered it repeatedly until I finally gave up and paid as a “guest” through PayPal instead. I never make payments through PayPal.

I called Discover Card this morning as requested so I could verify the unusual activity and get my card un-frozen. After identifying me as the legitimate owner of the card, the Discover Card security person asked, “Did you make a purchase on 9/22 at Keurig?”
That caught me by surprise. “I don’t think so,” I said unsurely, my mind racing through what that may have been. “Keurig? Was it online? What day is that?”
“That was Saturday, and it was an internet purchase.”
Mr. W, who was sitting next to me driving, piped in, “Was that a coffee maker? Was it pods? Maybe I accidentally bought some pods under your Amazon account, but I THINK I’d used my account…”
The security person continued, “What about a purchase at Rhapsody?”
“I KNOW I didn’t make that purchase, I don’t know anything about them, and I’ve never done business with them. I’m not even sure what they are, are they a music company?”
“Yes, they’re kind of like iTunes.” (So Apple is now the standard with which other companies are compared? But it works, I understood the reference. =P)
“Definitely not an authorized purchase,” I said, understanding now that the security of my card has indeed been compromised.
She went on to verify a few other purchases not made in person that were legitimate, the PayPal payments, medication for Dodo, then advised me that they were going to close the account and mail me a new card, and that I would not be responsible for the Keurig purchase, which had been made after the account was already frozen so it did not go through, and I would be refunded the one cent that Rhapsody charged.

Mr. W’s theory is that the friend-of-a-friend’s website’s credit card payment function was hacked, and that’s why the direct credit card payments would not go through. Each time I entered my credit card info, it went somewhere else, and the people at Somewhere Else used my card info to sign up for automatic payments on Rhapsody for music downloads (hence the $0.01 “test” charge from Rhapsody before they started auto-billing the card), which froze the account possibly because the IP address from the purchase was out-of-state when I’m still making other purchases on the card close in time from California, so it raised a red flag. Then when they tried to buy something from Keurig next, the card was already frozen so it did not authorize the out-of-state IP purchase. He figures mom-and-pop type online businesses don’t have the best security for their websites, because they may not know how to get it, and because it would cost more. That’s why payments through a secondary specialized, secured company like PayPal makes sense, he said. I guess that’s why small private sellers on companies like eBay use PayPal when dealing directly with a consumer.

Well, no harm done, except for the small nuisance of making one phone call and having to re-enter a new card for anything I have currently set up for auto-billing to Discover. Good catch, Discover! And I’m not sure if this could somehow be a lesson to anyone out there, cuz I’m not sure what the lesson would be. Use Discover Card? Use PayPal? Only order from big corporations who could afford a secured connection when you make credit card payments unless you use something like PayPal for the transaction?

And now I shall go email the very talented owner of the website I suspect has been hacked. I know it’s not HER because we’ve been communicating often and reliably via email regarding my customized purchases, and she’s put in a lot of work on them and I’ve already received the products. It sucks that small businesses like hers are targeted for internet fraud.

Allie turned 10 months yesterday! I’m mashing soft foods now instead of pureeing all foods, and I’ve just gently pressed the mashed carrots, sweet potatoes, etc. into the same ice cube trays I’d used for her purees so I could control portion size. She still gets some purees, because I just find it easier to make big batches of stuff once or twice a week that lasts for a few weeks (she gets a lot of variety), and I feel like mashed foods or chopped table foods have to be prepared and served fresh(er). I’m clueless on how to get her on actual table foods and snacks later on, as I’m away from home full time. Maybe prep her sandwiches early morning or have large pre-cooked meals in a crock pot? I don’t know. She does eat more fresh stuff these days, tho. Small pieces of watermelon, chopped bits of baked beetroot, shelled peas, etc.

She is pretty healthy and hasn’t gotten sick again since her early bout with RSV, despite hanging with her daycare-attending cousins here and there. She definitely understands more than she says, and will initiate games with us. Yesterday, she discovered that she could see her daddy in the back of the room by peering over the top of the living room couch from the floor, so she would make eye contact until he acknowledged her, then she’d duck down in a squat to hide herself, and then she’d stand up, he’d say “Peek-a-boo! I see you!” and she’d laugh and squat again, doing this until she’s done something like 15 squats on her little legs and couldn’t even walk well after that. She also loves the “I’m gonna pretend to put your cell phone in my mouth, but I’ll pause with my mouth open, look at you and smile expectantly waiting for you to say ‘No,’ and when you panic and yell ‘No,’ I’m gonna laugh at you before I lower your phone” game, which she of course made up herself and is tireless about playing. Her coy smile reaches her eyes and she looks sideways at us, and that’s how I always know she’s about to do something mischievous. It’s the same look she used to have before she bit me nursing.

So yes, it’s pretty fun now, aside from the more-often-than-not (naught?) shrieking struggling fit she’d have when we lay her down to get her diaper changed. =P

(photos from Cousin Alex’s bday, below)

Me: Hey Allie, you busy?
Allie: I’m just inspecting the grass. What’s up?

Me: I just wanted to wish you a happy birthday!
Allie: It’s not my birthday…?

Me: Sure it is! Daddy over there wants to wish you a happy birthday, too, cuz now you’re a big girl of 10 mon–

Allie: I’m not going to stand for this, a lady NEVER reveals her age!
Me: All right, all right, I won’t tell anybody…today. Get back here.

On Saturday, my cousin Jennifer’s baby Alexandra turned 1 year old! Time flies! Jennifer and her hubby hosted a buffet brunch at Back Bay Bistro, a really nice place sitting right over the kayak/small craft launch area of Newport Beach. We rushed Allie there as soon as she was up from her morning nap. Okay, I had to wake her over 90 minutes in, as she took a longer nap than usual. Figures.
Jennifer had an adorable theme of owls.

In the private room, there were orange and white balloons, colorful stuffed toy owls in wicker baskets in the center of each table, owl stickers, even an owl finger puppet board book for each attending baby. I think Allie may have been the youngest, as all the other “babies” were at least walking independently. In each owl “nest” wicker basket were an assortment of differently-colored construction paper, on which the guests were asked to write a message to Alex for a time capsule, which the parents plan to give Alex when she’s about to go off to college. It was hard imagining this 1-yr-old as an 18-yr-old, but I still got all sentimental writing my note, imagining her as a young adult about to start her semi-adult life. (I chose a yellow owl and blue owl sticker to decorate my note, as together they make UCLA colors, hee hee.)

The private room opened out onto a little grassy yard, which Jennifer had set up with a bubble machine and a colorful tunnel for the kids to play with.

Crawl, baby, crawl!

Yay! Almost to mama!

Allie got to hang out with her older cousin Elle, whom I still remember as a newborn. Crazy.

I’d kept trying to find Alex so Allie can have a pic with the birthday girl, and Alex was adorably dressed that day, but some grownup or other always monopolized her. =/ At least she got a little time with her auntie Jennifer, Alex’s mom. I guess Jen will have to be Alex’s representive. 🙂

There would’ve been no photos of me as usual except that handed Mr. W the phone and made him take some of me with Allie Cat.

We had fun, but it was a short event for us. We got there half an hour late (altho there were plenty of people with kids who were an hour or more late), and then were one of the first to leave to make it back for Allie’s afternoon nap. In the hour+ we were there (plus half an hour of drive time each way), I barely had time to eat and definitely didn’t want to stand idly in the long buffet line when I could be hanging with Allie feeding her so that Mr. W can eat (and he did eat), so that’s what I did. Mr. W pestered me the entire time to go get food, but I was too busy to care. My uncle, Alex’s grandfather, sat across from us and watched admiringly as Allie obediently ate all her chicken w/zucchini, carrots, and blueberries w/multigrain cereal, then fed herself her puffs and drank from her sippy cup. “She eats very well!” he said, impressed. I got a flashback of Alex’s mom Jennifer at age 4, sitting at the family table for each meal crying, as my uncle stood over her with a ruler in his hand, rapping at her hand and loudly on the table as he demanded in Mandarin, “EAT! EAT EAT EAT! CHEW CHEW CHEW!” Yeah, Jennifer did not enjoy her mealtimes. =P
Knowing the stress and planning involved with getting this brunch together, and knowing that Alex had to be there on time and stay until the last guest left, I’m feeling even less inclined to do a 1-yr party for Allie. They say the 1st bday party is for the parents instead of for the kid, anyway. I keep thinking things will be easier time-wise once she’s on 1 nap a day, which should be sometime in her 2nd year (next year). Maybe I’ll start with the public bday shindigs with a lake event for her 2nd bday. But then there’s the other issue — Allie’s bday is always gonna fall on/around Thanksgiving weekend. Potential guests would most likely have plans to be with family, or be out of town. This will be interesting.

I’m starting to think there’s no way to say exactly what/when baby’s first word is. Do we say it’s “mama” because of the “mamamamamama” playing of sounds she did when she was practicing her “m”s months ago? Is it “baba” (“daddy” in Mandarin) that she started doing a couple of months after that as she’s now working on the “b” sounds? Is it the not-quite-full-word sounds like “boon” when she pointed at the balloons floating in a corner of the ceiling when she got her first balloons at the beginning of last month? Or maybe it’s the “buh-buh” she did last night and this morning, accompanied by her waving, as she said good night to the stepkidlet before going upstairs to bed, and to me as we said our goodbyes and I walked out the door to go to work.

I guess I’d thought it would be clearer than that. I figured there’d be a first “meaningless” word, such as “mama” or “dada” (she’s still not doing her “d” sounds, yet) that has meaning to us, but not to her, and then later, there’d be a first “real” word that she says deliberately with intent to communicate. But there’s all this gray area. Do I count the sounds that I know mean something to her (such as the high-pitched moose shriek imitation she does, almost perfectly emulating her small furry stuffed moose toy that my parents got her as a souvenir from Yosemite, whenever we say “moose” or when she sees the toy) but that aren’t truly formed words, like “boon?” But then she didn’t do “boon” after the first two times, since the balloons deflated and Mr. W threw them away. We went on a walk and bought her a cute mylar balloon the other day after she saw a picture of balloons and then pointed to the empty corner of the ceiling where the balloons had been last month, so now she’s batting around the new balloon and saying “bah-bah” which isn’t quite “boon” but isn’t quite “bah-loon,” either.

I think “first words” are arbitrary to whatever the parents want to deem a first word, just like “first walk” is pretty arbitrary, too. Allie now takes up to 6-7 steps pretty quickly to get from one end of the couch to the middle of the room to one of us, or to a toy she wants to play with. This is only when she’s not tired and therefore doesn’t have the balancing skills of a drunk. Some would say this is not truly “walking” because it’s not consistent and she can’t keep taking these steps in a controlled way perpetually, as it seems like the last step of the series is the one where she knows she’s at her goal so she gives up and sort of lunges herself at the target, sometimes falling or sitting down with a plop.

So when people ask me what Allie’s doing these days, is she talking? Is she walking? I just say, “Sorta.”

A bailiff in the building told me that when he brought a young defendant out of lock-up into the courtroom to have the defendant’s case heard, on sight the judge told him to bring the defendant back into lock-up immediately. Not knowing why, the bailiff did as he was told and then re-entered the courtroom in time to hear the judge say that he was going to recuse himself from this case. The case was then transferred to a different courtroom in the building. So the bailiff went to the defendant to give him this information.
“What does that mean?” the defendant asked him.
“It means the judge may personally know something about your case, or maybe know someone in your family, that may cause him to appear biased, so he is removing himself from your case and giving it to another judge to hear.” In a civil case, judges recuse themselves all the time because they may own stock in the corporation that is involved in a lawsuit, or because they had formerly worked for a company that is named in the lawsuit. In a criminal case, recusal is much more rare.
“Well, I live in [local city], and I know that some judges live there, and one of them used to give see me walking to school and he’d always pull over to give me a ride. Maybe this judge knows that judge or something.”
The bailiff later told the judge what the defendant had said.
The judge responded, “That was ME. I used to see him walking all the time around our neighborhood walking to and from school when he was younger, so I used to give him rides.” But when the kid was about 18, the judge continued, he’d gotten into trouble with the law, and at the same time the neighborhood suffered a few residential burglaries. All the neighbors figured it was this kid. The judge’s own house at the time also acquired some evidence of tampering, as if someone had attempted to break in, and he’d always suspected it was this kid, too.
“I can’t be fair on this case because the DA’s offer is 36 months [in state prison] and I’d want to put him away for longer than that just to keep him out of my neighborhood.” Good man. So he passed the case to someone who didn’t have a personal interest in the outcome.
That someone is another judge who ended up allowing the defendant, on the same day, to get probation. =P So no state prison time for him. Guess he’ll be back in the first judge’s neighborhood soon.

First, I mourned her death.

Then, I tried to recreate her.

Yesterday, I discovered…she is resurrected! Oh, joy of joys! She’s supposed to be bigger, prettier, and more multi-faceted than ever. I’m not sure how I feel about that last part, yet. I mean, she did famously well the first time by sticking with what she knew.
Rachel: You don’t want to do too much too soon. You know what happened to the girl who did too much too soon, don’t you?
Jill: No…what?
Rachel: Sh-she died, Jill.
(extra points to the person who could tell me where that’s from)
Oh well, I suppose if you’re going to rise a new phoenix from the ashes of the old one, you want to come back with a bang, and all the splendor you can muster.

Hubby and I still haven’t reached any resolution on the near future regarding his imminent retirement. He knows he’s going to retire in about 5 years (he can’t wait, he talks about it almost DAILY, especially when traffic’s bad on the freeways commuting to work), and he still wants me to quit when he retires, so we can be a family unit all together, but I’m still not ready to give up the financial security of having my own money, and own work life. Maybe things will change in 5 years. Maybe Oregon, Hawaii or Florida (yes, Mr. W put FLORIDA on the potential retirement location list) won’t seem so far away by then. Who knows.

Mr. W took me to lunch today at a Chinese food restaurant. When the fortune cookies came at the end, he cracked his open, read it to himself, and then commented with a big smile, “Hey, I’m gonna get to retire this year!” Huh? He handed me the fortune. It says, “The current year will bring you much happiness.
He told me to open mine. I did, and read it silently. “Hey, I’m NOT going to be quitting this year!” I said in delight.
“Your fortune is ‘The current year will NOT bring you any happiness’?” he predicted.
I handed him my fortune, which says, “Depart not from the path which fate has you assigned.

I used to get little trash-talking post-it notes on my desk at work when UCLA played rival colleges, from my coworkers who’d attended those rival colleges, and I used to get some crap from judges in elevators when the stakes got high. But that hasn’t happened in years. This is probably why people at work from rival colleges have stopped picking on me about sports…
My judge (Cal grad), this morning: Hey, UCLA’s 3-0!
Me: Yeah, I heard we’re doing pretty well.
[Meaning, I’ve seen social network posts from fellow Bruins cheering.]
Judge: [something about the new coach]
Me: What sport are we talking about again?
Judge: [an amused laugh] This IS football season.
Me: Oh.

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