November 2012

Toddler-boo had her 1-year checkup on Monday. She got the largest number of shots she’d ever received…SIX! I guess the 2 extra ones are the measles and chicken pox vaccines, both of which went into the fat on the backs of each upper arm. Before age 1, the vaccine isn’t effective, as explained to me by the doctor. The four intramuscular shots that went into her upper quads are the usual that she’d had before, DTAP and such.
Allie whimpered and started to cry as soon as she was put on the bed with the crinkly paper. That had never happened before. She cried sitting on the scale to be weighed, and she cried when the nurse came in. The pediatrician later explained that this is the age when she has the memory to associate the crinkly paper with getting shots. Her two prior times coming in within the last month for flu shots are what she’s now remembering. “It’s good, developmentally, but so sad when we see how happy they are playing with the paper at 6 months, knowing they’ll hate it at 12 months.” Allie was a trooper, though, and stopped crying once we removed her from the scary crinkly paper bed.
Here are her stats:
* Height: 80.5 cm, which is 2’7.7″; 100th percentile
* Weight: 19 lbs 5 oz; 43rd percentile (altho when I look up percentiles myself, this weight gets her in the teens in percentile, so not sure what’s wrong here)
[update 12-3-12: the pediatrician’s nurse just called me regarding an email I’d sent questioning the weight and percentile. She said that they use the WHO (World Health Organization) for their percentile guidelines, not North American children guidelines. So I guess Allie’s pretty skinny for American standards, but right in line with a global average.]
* Noggin circumference: 45.5 cm; ?th percentile

I can’t believe that in 1 year, my baby went from her birth length of 21 inches to almost 32 inches. She grew TEN AND 3/4 INCHES in a YEAR! And she’s now taller than 100% of little girls her age. Mr. W’s genes ARE dominant. Wow. Her pediatrician said that a sign of good nutrition is height. Weight is less dependable for that, because babies go thru natural weight fluctuations that may not mean anything, but nutrition is paramount to height growth. That’s a relief, since Mr. W was nervous that she’s so skinny. The pediatrician asked us about Allie’s dietary habits, and said she’s doing great. What we’re seeing is her own body type and metabolism showing up; barring any dramatic changes in diet/nutrition, she’ll likely always be a tall, slender girl. LUCKY GIRL. He asked if she was walking, and we said she’s RUNNING. She’s spinning in circles. She’s walking backwards. The pediatrician said that’s great, because most tall babies aren’t very coordinated and tend to be later with their motor skill development.

I told him that I’m still nursing morning and night, and when I’m able to be home, she’s nursed 4x/day. He said that’s great, and as long as it still works for me and the baby, to keep that up as desired. Since she’d tried cow’s milk for the first time Monday morning before the appointment and drank about 1-2 oz of it without a problem, he said to still let her have much breastmilk as she wants, but to add cow’s whole milk to her diet 1 oz at a time with her meals, up to 4 times a day (or 4 oz a day). I was given a “feeding your toddler” booklet, and was advised to follow its guidelines on dairy and carbs, not surpassing the maximums of both those groups, but that if Allie still seems hungry or shows an interest in continued eating, to give her as much fruits/veggies as she wants. I was reassured that she won’t overeat at this age. He said that as we wean her off the bottle/breastmilk, to not replace breastmilk with cow’s milk ounce-for-ounce; a common parental mistake is giving too much dairy and refined carbs, according to his child-nutrition-specialty background.

I’ve gone back and reminisced about some of the posts and photos from a year ago. Allie is a completely different person. The best change is that she’s not crying all the time! But even in the last few weeks, she’s grown so much. Her comprehension continues to astound me. She’ll be playing on her own and overhear me saying something to her dad about going grocery shopping and getting some bananas for her, and she’ll say in her cute high voice, “Ba-ya-ya?” The other day I was pointing out the animals on some toys talking to Mr. W, and when I got to “elephant,” Allie made a “Fff! Fff!” air-blowing sound. I didn’t catch the meaning of that, but Mr. W did. Hanging over her crib are three paper elephants on a Flensted mobile that was a gift from Dardy. Mr. W and I would occasionally blow at it while holding her to make the elephants move, and I’d say, “Ooh, elephant party!” which is the name of the mobile design. So now “elephant” to her is associated with the blowing sound, “Fff! Fff!”, just as “flower” to her is associated with her making a sniffing sound as she’d been told, “You don’t TOUCH a flower, you SMELL a flower! *sniff sniff*” A wonderful development in the past week is that suddenly, she’s stopped fussing when we lay her down for a diaper change (unless she wants to eat first in the morning and I nurse her first then we change her). It’s also quite a relief to not have to restrict her food. We give her almost any chopped food (I still give healthy stuff, tho) and she loves it. I don’t worry about avoiding dairy or citrus or eggs or beef or honey or blah blah blah. She eats it all, and she loves it all.

Best of all, she’s such a little character and is clearly into inducing reactions from adults. She does things and overreacts with her gasps and fake offended expressions and does her gestures, looking to us for reactions. When we laugh, she laughs, and does it again. A lot of times, she’s already smiling a little sly smile in anticipation of getting a reaction from us, as she’s about to do something. Allie is busy and on-the-go, but is generally self-entertained, running around placing animals in buckets or moving her blanket from the couch to the floor and pretending to sleep on it while sucking her thumb. We generally just sit in the living room and watch her. She’d come up to us occasionally and request help, such as when she can’t get a clamshell-type ball to open and would walk up and hand it to me, saying, “Hmm?” I like her questioning lilt. She sometimes puts a hand on my purse and says, “Bee?” I’d say, “Bag.” She’d say, “Ba” with the short “a” vowel sound, all but the last consonant.

She makes us laugh every day.

Allie’s second Thanksgiving was the day before her birthday this year. Knowing we would have a busy guest-filled weekend, we took Thanksgiving Thursday very, very easy. I’m grateful for that. Mr. W and I hung out at home with Allie, and had an early turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes, and pumpkin pie lunch with the kid at Claim Jumper. I pulled off small pieces of the warm cottony sourdough bread for Allie, and she enjoyed that. She also had a few bites of plain mashed potato (altho I suspect it’s pretty butter-laden). She did not enjoy the pumpkie pie at all and made a face. She likes sweet fruit quite a bit, but does not seem to think much of dessert. I’m happy about that. She had a rare couple of days of frequent soft poopies last wek, which gave her a bad diaper rash complete with blisters, so we gave her stuff we used to avoid to solidify her poops a bit more. Banana, bread, applesauce. Her new favorite thing is now bananas. She loves it SO much that she immediately learned to say it, so that she could point and demand it. “BA-ya-ya! BA-ya!” she’d say every time she’s within sight of a banana, pointing.

Friday, Baby-Boo turned ONE! We entered her room in the morning and greeted her with the happy birthday song. She watched us politely, then pointed at the nursing recliner and said, “Mum mum mum.” (Food.)

Mr. W and I hit the grocery store for some last minute stuff and bought Allie her balloons. (“bbbloon, bbbbloon, bbbbloon!”)

While she napped, I made her personalized “smash cake” out of whole wheat flour, wheat germ, mashed ripe bananas, homemade applesauce, and soy milk. It’s oil-free, dairy-free, and healthy, which means it also ended up being more smash bread than smash cake. I also made her frosting the sugar-free way, by stirring pure apple juice concentrate into softened whipped cream cheese. That was her only dairy. I also dripped beet juice (Mr. W’s contribution, mashing a baked beet over wire mesh thingie and extracting the juice, which he had to do because I had a FIT that he dumped the beet juice I’d previously collected and had been saving for the frosting) into the frosting to give it a nice shade of pink, which I used to frost the mini bundt smash bread. Then I added more beet juice for a deeper pink in the remaining frosting to make accent frosting. Turns out frosting a cake with cream cheese is not easy! It did not spread very evenly. But heck, it was gonna get smashed, anyway. Nobody else has to eat it. It wasn’t until Mr. W shoved the giant candle on it that I realized I’d inadvertently matched the “theme colors” exactly.

In the late afternoon, Mr. W’s parents arrived from Vegas. They hadn’t seen her since we visited Vegas when she was about 8 months old, and all she was doing then was pulling up and cruising a few steps. Now she’s running…


…”jumping” (really just squatting and then springing up to a stand very quickly), and new on her bday, she suddenly started walking a few steps backwards, laughing, and she’d turn in a circle looking down until she fell over dizzy, giggling. Grandma and grandpa enjoyed watching her dig around in her toy box, take out the toy she wants, run with it across the room and place it on the couch or the piano bench, and run back for another toy.

They also enjoyed watching her dance…

and make faces at them, such as the mock-upset expression when she runs into something or trips…

…basically being her usual clowny self.

Later, the stepdaughter and her boyfriend came over bringing a big Hello Kitty balloon and joined in the Allie fun.

Mr. W’s dad kept saying how amazing it is that she’s always happy, doesn’t fuss before or after her naps, and has high-energy and great focus during her awake times. He told me that he’s now a believer in my sleep-focused parenting style. Heh.

Happy Thanksgiving!

We are not doing a thing for Thanksgiving this year. Not a thing. For that I am so grateful; Allie’s got a big weekend, so today is low-key day. Right now, Allie’s napping, Mr. W’s watching some movie on TV using his TV Ears headphones, and we’re all 3 still in our pajamas. Dodo’s napping, too, and I guess arguably, he is also still in his pajamas. He’s doing a lot better — even seems to have gained some weight back. His ribs and spine are still palpable, but he doesn’t feel like just fur and bones anymore.

Mr. W’s parents are driving here tomorrow. We’ve made arrangements to put them up in a nearby classy spa hotel, hope they enjoy being pampered a little bit. Mr. W and I have been wanting to visit that hotel since we pass it daily going to work. Then Saturday is Allie’s 1-day belated bday meal. Mr. W invited Jayne and her husband over for cake if they’re not doing anything that afternoon. Given that we were against celebrating until very recently, it’s amazing and humbling how many presents Allie has already received from coworkers and Jayne. We’re going to let her dig into the wrapping on Saturday; she’ll probably enjoy that more than what’s concealed. I’m a little nervous about making her cake, but since I’m doing them in mini bundts, if it comes out horrible, nobody has to eat it and we don’t have to serve it. We’ll just call it props and back-up props for Allie’s smash cake photos. =P

It’s hard to believe that a year ago today, I was whining about how my OB couldn’t do a membrane sweep to help encourage labor, since I was only dilated 1.5 cm and he can’t fit his finger in through that. Allie was already 1 day past her due date, but unbeknownst to me, I’d get my first labor contraction that night/early morning.

Mr. W upgraded the home desktop PC to Windows 8, which is supposed to be more of a touchscreen tablet interface than a desktop computer interface. Since the interface was just not doing much for us and we couldn’t figure out how to use it effectively, he decided, in the next day, to turn his home PC into a giant tablet. He kind of just appeared with a new giant touchscreen monitor. And then a couple of days later, he got a webcam.

“What the hell is THAT for?! I don’t want that!” I pointed at the webcam, appalled. I don’t want to put on makeup just to check my email! This is why I think Apple’s FaceTime feature is the scariest idea, ever. But he installed it anyway (cuz he’s trying to turn the PC into a giant iPad, I’m convinced), and did a test shot while I hid waaaay off-screen.

I guess I’ve been dragged kicking and screaming into modern technology. *sigh*

Despite my nostalgia for what I consider the more user-friendly every-prior-version-of-Windows-including-DOS, I admit that the new app-run Win8 does have some fun perks. For example, hubby found a photo app and made these cool illustrations.

He showed me that one but I didn’t pay much attention because I was still unhappy that the computer user interface I’m familiar with is gone. So he tried again.

He knew that if he placed a cat anywhere on, in, or near an object (such as displayed on this monitor), the battle is almost won. Take TWO cute cats, and I grudgingly come and pay attention. The above photo actually has THREE cute cats in it. Knowing he got me, he told me to try a photo. So I directed while he touch-screened, and came up with this masterpiece:

Now I had to reluctantly agree that this is kind of neat. And I personally made this other one that I entitle, “MY MOTHER’S WORSE NIGHTMARE.” My mom gave me a lot of crap when she first got on the social networking site about the photos of Allie that I’ve posted. (Good thing she doesn’t know about this blog, huh?) It got annoying enough that I avoided hearing all her pestering by simply blocking her from seeing selected photo postings. Her, and anyone who may see it and mention it to her, so my dad, some of my mom’s friends, my mom’s friends’ children, my relatives, family friends, are all blocked from the same photos and postings. I asked her what all her beef about Allie’s photos being shared among my friends circle is about. She said that since she’s able to right-click on my posted photos and save the photo to her computer, that means other people are, too, which means that someone can steal Allie’s photo(s) and make fake I.D.s out of it. *blink blink* What, like this?

There you have it, people. My Mother’s Worst Nightmare. (I think it’s hilarious, but every time I mock her or scoff at her about something, I get a knee-jerk counterthought of, “I hope Allie never does this stuff to me.”)

Here’s something I did on the iPad, to compare old technology with new technology. My mom scanned and emailed me the photo on the left.

You know how on the last post, I’d talked about finally reviving my DSLR camera from the grave (okay, it wasn’t dead, just very, very neglected) and giving child photography a whirl? Here are some shots. I admit, the photo quality is much better than my old stand-by of my cameraphone, but man, was it hard chasing down a prancing toddler in a big living room. Oh, BTW, we finally got the replacement rug and put it in. Now Allie has a much bigger space in which to frolic.

Here, Allie demonstrates how she judges whether my photos have “measured up.”

“Hey mom, I saw on the piano bench that your DSLR camera bag is out. You’re kidding, right? You’re really gonna try to do this?”

Saturday was the UCLA-USC football game. We Bruins have not won a game against ‘SC since…like, when I was in college. Okay, maybe that not long, we may have won a game here or there when I wasn’t paying attention.
Anyway, Allie knew which side her bread’s buttered on, and dressed the part.

I also gave her a UCLA stuffed football bear and a USC stuffed football bear (gifts from Trojan buddy Eddie and his wife Michelle) and asked her to pick the loser.

Allie: “Hmm, the tag on the USC bear says ‘loser,’ so…”

The UCLA shirt is a gift from Auntie Flip Flop Girl. Her UCLA shoes is a gift from her daddy. The only UCLA thing I bought is the footsie bear…back in 1995.
Allie: “And you call yourself a Bruin?”

This is what Allie looked like when I told her we’d just WON this game.

All right, all right, in reality, this is what Allie looked like playing peek-a-boo with Daddy. And if you’re noticing a lot of teeth, let me tell you that her upper left molar and incisor cut last week. She now has 10 visible teeth, more coming very shortly.

Here is another gift from Auntie Flip Flop Girl (and Uncle Mike by proxy, and her pals Kyden and Sienna). A blankie that identifies the owner! Cool, huh?

“Daddy thinks he tackled me, but I’m about to fart on him.”

“Hey, wanna see my new levitating sippy cup trick?”

“Mmmrrrggghhhh!” *grunting in concentration*

Now you had fun with us, and you didn’t even have to break a sweat like I did bringing the fun to you! Yay.

I hadn’t wanted to do anything for Allie’s 1st bday because at this age, she will likely get nothing out of it except a missed nap. I’d rather she take the nap and I’d prefer not to stress about food, guest lists, setup and cleanup, goodie bags, decorations, venue, cost, blah blah blah. My parents offered to bring dinner over on or around Allie’s bday, which falls on Thanksgiving weekend, and bring my grandma who hadn’t seen Allie in awhile, and just have a quiet low-key dinner. That sounded fine.

Then Mr. W got a phone call this weekend from his parents saying that they are planning to drive all the way here from Vegas the day after Thanksgiving (which would be on Allie’s bday) for their youngest grandchild’s first birthday. Mr. W told them we weren’t planning to celebrate it, and they said we have to at least get photos of her having her first cake and getting all messy. Well, if her grandparents are gonna drive all day, how can we not honor Allie’s bday? So it’s going to be my parents and grandma, now joined by Mr. W’s parents, so we have to have the stepkidlets here since we’re doing something now, and the stepdaughter of course would want her boyfriend to be present as he’s usually here in the evenings anyway when she’s home. Mr. W suggested adding his friend Chris and his daughter, and Allie’s nanny Jayne and her husband John, and I vetoed that. Once we start including non-family members, the line gets fuzzier, and we can’t invite Jayne and John without inviting their daughter who still lives at home, and if you invite their daughter who lives at home, you can’t not invite the daughter who doesn’t live at home because they’ll be spending the holiday weekend all together. 10 adults + Allie is a tight enough fit considering we have a dining table that seats 4, but 15 adults and 2 kids? No way. I don’t even know how we’re going to have room to serve dinner as it is, or where we’ll be eating, or when we’ll be eating as Allie goes to bed by 7pm.

Over the weekend, Mr. W and I passed by a party supply store on a walk to the organic grocery store across the street, and we ended up buying a couple of 1st Bday things for Allie. And I’m going to have to make her a smash cake. I found a recipe for a healthy sugar-free (using fruit juice as sweetener) and egg-free banana and applesauce cake which uses wheat flour and I’m going to make her frosting out of cream cheese and beet juice as red dye. I’m going to make 6 small bundt cakes so she gets her own to make a mess with. Flip Flop Girl suggested adding blueberries to increase the cute-mess factor, so I’ll do that. Hope it turns out well. For dinner, I’m not cooking. Mr. W has already ordered 2 fully-cooked, complete prime rib dinners from the organic grocery store for that day, which comes with sides and pumpkin pie.

I’ve also been inspired to pay a professional photographer (or maybe 2) for a 1-year birthday shoot. Jordan (in Florida) has a nurse coworker who’s also a photographer, who did newborn hospital shots of Jordan’s new grandson. I’ve looked at these photos, and because they were SO GOOD, I looked at other photos in this lady’s portfolio (InspireFly Photography is her side-gig). She is probably THE best children’s photographer I’ve seen, based on her work, but she’s too far away. So I started a local hunt. There is a studio in San Juan Capistrano running a promo with a slashed sitting fee on a mini-session of 20 minutes. Prints will probably be expensive, though. And then a social networking friend aware of my search did a public call on her page, and within minutes were flooded with recommendations, one of which was was more forward in responding to an email she left, whom I’d contacted and had emailed me back today with VERY excellent prices. She said she travels, and is willing to come to our house or to a local park for portraits. So I thought, Allie at our lake! How perfect! So I think we’ll do that, too. (I haven’t told Mr. W about that but he basically left all this menial decision-making stuff to me. Hee hee.) Then Allie will get a few posed studio shots, and some live outdoor shots that show more personality (hopefully).
Some people told me to dust off my DSLR camera and shoot Allie’s 1-year photos myself, and I was reluctant because I’m SO rusty (having not taken out the camera since Allie’s birth) that I don’t even remember how to change certain functions on manual mode and will have to crack open the manual again. I feel like I have no business using a fancy camera if I’m gonna shoot on automatic mode. Then I may as well keep using my cameraphone. Nevertheless, I finally got the DSLR out this weekend and did a few test shots.
O.M.G. A running 1 year old? I was in a full-sweat trying to get in front of her so that I didn’t constantly have shots of her side and back. I couldn’t get her to perform on command, either. There is no WAY I can shoot on full-manual for a kid. I’m definitely gonna hand the task to a professional.

I managed to snag some photos taken by a neighbor of the birthday party we attended last weekend. The backyard carnival fancy-smancy theme party for the 1-year-old.

Here is the birthday boy Hudson’s daddy at the hot dog stand.

In addition to the personalized hot dog stand, there was lots of personalized bottled water, too.

The face-painting booth.

(Allie did not know what to make of all the kids coming up to her with stripes and webs on their faces. “Ooh, a zebra!” I’d tell her. “Look, it’s Spiderman!” She would just stand and stare as the boys stared back. Then I’d realize she doesn’t know what a zebra or Spiderman looks like, so my explanation is moot.)
The dessert table with the popcorn-bucket cupcakes. The “popcorn” are miniature marshmallows, hand-twisted and placed on a layer of white frosting, and then the tops of the marshmallows are lightly misted with a diluted solution of yellow food coloring.

Some kids playing carnival games.

…and of course, the birthday boy with his own smash cake, in between his mom and dad.

The photo booth let us email the photos in addition to giving us printed ones. I don’t know why they came out as doubles, but here they are. Here is me with my little Allie Cat in a fancy black feathered boa.

And then we went back for a pic with Mr. W with our little bunny (her zodiac sign).

So turns out it’s not that easy to get a toddler to look at the camera, particularly when the camera isn’t as interesting as stuff on the outside of the booth, especially when she has to look at the camera long enough for it to go off and take the photo while she’s still looking. I tried tapping on the glass near the camera to get her to look, but mostly all that did was make me look at my own hand higher than the camera while clearly she lost interest already. Oh, well.

Allie had been waking up and staying up on her own between 5am and 5:30am for the past month, and we don’t know why. She did well with the time change, however, and was still getting up between 5-5:30am, occasionally as late as 5:45a, but it was the “new” 5:30a or whenever. Over the weekend, we finally turned on the central heater, and she slept in to her old time of past 6am, and yesterday on Veteran’s Day, as late as a few minutes past 7am. So it could be that even though I’d been double-bagging her with a onesie inside her fleece zip-up footsie sleep-n-plays, it has simply been so much colder in the mornings that when she wakes up in the morning, she has been unable to go back to sleep. She doesn’t make noise or demand anything, just playing on her own in her crib until we go in to get her, be it half an hour, an hour or more.

We attended a birthday party over the weekend, thrown by a coworker for her grandson’s first birthday. She went all-out and turned her large backyard into an old-fashioned carnival, complete with game booths, prizes, props, popcorn machine, hot dog “vendor” booth, game tickets, photo booth, cotton candy cart, face painters. And the details! Little goldfish in round bowls, cupcakes that look exactly like little buckets of popcorn (“popcorn” made with twisted mini marshmallows lightly sprayed with yellow food coloring), everything was bright red and blue. I would’ve taken photos, except Allie threw my cell phone into some crevice in the car and Mr. W said I didn’t need it so we were rushed inside. There went my primary mode of photodocumentation. Given the many many kids and babies at the party (we’re talking 100+ guests), everyone seemed to be an expert in parenting. We got lots of unsolicited commentary on Allie. They were mostly kind comments, such as how cute she is and how well she walks given her age, but more and more she’s receiving comments of how tall she is. People assume she’s 14-15 months and are surprised when they learn she’s 11. She towered over the 1-year-old birthday boy. I can see that she’ll be expected to act like a young adult when she’s just a small child and wants to come up to me to be held when she’s my height. =P

Yesterday was Veteran’s Day and a holiday. We used the day off to bring Allie to the doctor for her 2nd dose of the flu shot. She did well, crying in protest when we forced her to lie back on the table, having the same fit she gives us when we make her lie back for a diaper change. She was so busy fussing about that, that she didn’t know the shot had come and gone already, so she stopped crying as soon as we let her sit up again. I asked how many shots Allie will get for her 1-year appointment, and the nurse said six. SIX! Two on each thigh, and one under each upper arm. That would be the most shots she’d received at once, and the first shots on her arms. I’m not looking forward to that appointment in a couple of weeks. I asked when the next series of vaccinations after that would be, and was told 18 months. That would be a nice break from all the shooting up every time she’s gone to the doctor, and after that, her booster shots would come at age 2. And then even bigger gaps after that. So her only regular shots after that would be her annual flu shots, which would still be a child-sized half-dose, but only 1 shot. I was told she got the double-shot this year only because it’s her first time.

I asked Mr. W if he had any pre-scanned photos of himself in uniform that I could post to do a Veteran’s Day blog entry. He thought a long time and said no. All his photos are hard copies only, nothing digital. I figured as much, it was a long time ago. When we had been at the Toyota dealership last month buying the new Prius V, I’d noted that the fleet saleswoman had a framed portrait on her desk of a young man in a Marine Corps uniform. I asked her about it, and she said it’s her 23-year-old son currently stationed in Afghanistan. That’s Mr. W’s son’s age. Later, we were sent to finalize documents with a finance person and I noticed a similar shot behind him. The finance guy said that’s his 21-year-old son, currently a Marine in Iraq. I told him I hoped his son would be home soon, and he said the military had said he’d be home on Thanksgiving. I brightened and said that’s great. The finance guy chortled and said, “Oh, you know our military. They SAY Thanksgiving, and then when that comes and goes, they say, ‘Oh, did we say Thanksgiving? We meant Christmas.’ And then, ‘We meant Christmas NEXT year.'” The finance guy came from a military family of Marines, altho he himself had been Army because he got almost lethally seasick. He was good-natured about his son, who is Mr. W’s daughter’s age, being away from home this long with an indefinite end in sight. It’s amazing the characters of our military, also amazing how life has to go on for their family members at home, even though I’m sure they don’t sleep easily at night.
“If the Marine motto is The few, the proud, how come it seems like almost every military or ex-military person we know of is a Marine?” I asked Mr. W, the former Marine, whose father was also a Marine.
He was too busy trying to figure out Windows8 to give me much of a response.

Win8. Yeah, still not loving it. It’s turned our PC much, much less user-friendly. Being on the PC now feels like I’m back in Italy in the rain and hostile environment without a guidebook or map or a translator. (Italy will forever now be the place I compare negativity to.)

Ugh. It makes me nervous when a bajillion prospective jurors are given access to the jury room to use the restrooms during jury selection, like now, cuz my pump parts are disassembled, washed and drying in there and I’d kill someone if I saw a curious juror handling them. Yay, a 2-week criminal trial for a doctor (ex-doctor, I should say) for filing false tax returns (2 counts) and for failing to file a tax return (1 count). Yes, people, they really do prosecute for that. This guy faces up to 4 years in state prison.

On Missy’s last afternoon with Allie in mid-October, she told us almost as a by-the-way before she left, “She knows her hair now. You can ask her where her hair is and she’ll put her hand on her head.” That ended up being a nice trick to charm Allie’s grandparents with. This video was taken last weekend when my parents were visiting. My dad’s holding her and my mom’s taking the video and it’s my mom’s voice you hear.

Allie caught on to most words pretty quickly, but had a little difficulty distinguishing “hair” from “ear” for about a week. They sounds similar, so it’s understandable. It’s funny what she remembers from past unintentional training. She was shown flowers a lot, in the garden, in a clipping at home in a vase, on her walks. We try to keep her from grabbing the flower as it’s usually a thorny rose, so we tell her, “No, you don’t TOUCH the flower, you SMELL the flower.” Then we’d demonstrate a sniff, then hold her hands down and put her face toward the flower and she’d sniff, too. So a few weeks ago, she was fingering a print of a flower on my shirt, and I said, “Flower.” Next thing I knew, she was ducking her face down and shoving her nose in my shirt. She inhaled loudly through her nose. The same thing happened when she was rubbing her index finger on a pattern of a flower on a quilt on our bed. “Flower,” I said. Nose down. Sniff. This age is really fun.

When I saw that our local polling place is just a few streets up in our neighborhood, I thought it’d be a cool idea to go to the voting booths this year with Allie to indoctrinate her into the democratic process. To cut down on line-waiting time, I decided last minute today to fill out my mail-in ballot and walk it in.

In my head, in my perfect scenario, I’m walking up to the table of poll workers with my patriotically-dressed baby girl. The senior citizen volunteers smile at her and maybe say a few “Aww”s, then Allie would hand over my signed sealed ballot. Maybe the poll worker would even let Allie drop it into the ballot box. Then they’d give me an “I Voted!” sticker, which I’d then stick on Allie’s shirt, and we’d take a picture of her in front of an American flag.

In reality, we walked up to the house where a line had already formed coming out of the garage where the voting was taking place. I stood uncertainly in line, telling Mr. W (who was holding my patriotically dressed baby girl) that I didn’t think I need to stand in line to just drop off my ballot. He said he thought I needed to stay in line to check in. The guy in front of us overheard and told me that they had just made an announcement shortly before we got there that anyone with mail-in ballots can just walk in and hand it to a guy by the ballot box. So I did. Mr. W did not walk Allie in with me, but stood nearby. I handed my ballot over to a guy who did not even so much as crack his lips into a smile or bother to part them to utter a greeting. I asked if I could hand this to him, he took my ballot (I’m not even sure he looked at me), handed it over his shoulder to another guy who examined it to make sure my signature and address were filled out correctly, and I said, “Are we good?”
“We’re good,” he said unceremoniously, dropping the ballot into the slot of the box, and proceeded to ignore me again.
I walked out and said, “I don’t get a sticker for coming in with a ballot?”
“I guess not,” Mr. W said. I wanted to go back in to ask for one, to at least score one part of my dream scenario and stick a sticker on Allie for a photo, but Mr. W told me to just forget about it. We walked a few feet down and tried to snap a picture of Allie by a small flag staked into the ground, but she wouldn’t stay still so all the photos were blurry and you can’t even see the cute little elephant holding a sparkler with its trunk embroidered on her top.
We walked home, fed her dinner, and she went to bed.

And here I want to quote Robert Burns’ “To a Mouse.” Most anticlimactic experience ever.

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