December 2012

On a detached level, it’s interesting to see how quickly the paranoia comes back.

Allie skipped her second (afternoon) nap twice in the last 3 days. She was in her crib on time, but instead of napping, it became a quiet playtime. She ran laps, played peek-a-boo by herself with her blanket, pulled off her sock and threw it over the crib railing to watch it drop, tried to drop her blanket over the crib rail as well, tugged at the bumper ties, figured out how to undo the velcro straps on the crib rail protectors, practiced half-somersaults (rolling out sideways instead of turning all the way over vertically). Both missed naps, she was in there for 1.5 hours goofing off, and I went and got her at 3p. The evening of the first missed nap, I started her bedtime routine an hour earlier than normal, she conked out nursing, woke up at the crib transfer and protested, but then went right back to sleep. The second time last night, I tried again to put her to bed an hour earlier, and she again fell asleep nursing (which she normally doesn’t do anymore) at about 6p, but after she awoke at the crib transfer, she stayed awake until almost 8p. πŸ™

So I’m immediately googling how much sleep a 13-month-old baby needs. Looks like it’s still 13-15 hours, so with the missed nap yesterday and the early rise times (Allie has beaten me waking up every morning for the past few days, so I don’t know when she’s up, but it’s before 6am), I think she’s getting more like 12. It could be she’s at that awkward transition period where 2 naps are too much but 1 is not enough, but I wasn’t expecting this to happen until she’s closer to 15 months old. Plus, the morning nap is supposed to be the one to go next, not the afternoon nap.

If she keeps missing her afternoon nap, I think we’re just going to have to do away with it and slowly move her morning nap back to be more of a noon nap.

I’m hoping this isn’t a sign that she’s sick; a few days ago, we were at Pretend City and Allie was playing with her back turned to me at the toddler area, and suddenly I realized with horror that the green object in her hands isn’t a toy, it’s some random sippy cup left behind by an unaware parent. Before I could get to her, it was in her mouth and I heard the “suck suck” sound as I was leaping over the low wall and flying over foam toys and telling her, “Noooo!” Gross!!! The only other parent there, a dad with 2 toddlers, said it wasn’t his sippy. If Allie gets sick from the foreign stuff introduced straight into her mouth, oh well. She’s only been sick once so far, so maybe she’s due. She doesn’t have any symptoms of discomfort though; even with the missed naps she’s happy and playful and goofy as usual. Me, on the other hand, I’m a nervous wreck. =P

Allie turned 13 months old on Sunday. The above photo was taken day-of. That day, she met my childhood friend Sandy for the first time (since Sandy moved to Texas for work)! Sandy and her boyfriend were very impressed with what a “good baby” Allie is…and she really is. She rarely cries, rarely fusses, and expresses her needs by pointing and babbling. (She’s babbling a LOT.) She’s happy in crowds and happy on her own. We don’t even know when she’s up from her nap without checking the monitor, because she doesn’t cry then, either. I keep a close eye on the babycam and try to catch her immediately upon her waking and give her 15 minutes to hang out on her own and poop. She plays in her crib, hums, practices her babbling, rolls around on and with her fuzzy blanket, walks around and peers over the railing, pulls off a sock and drops it out of the crib to watch it fall. Sandy was especially impressed by how well she eats her chopped foods, and WHAT she happily eats. “What’s that?”
“Quinoa and brown rice with edamame, spinach, bell peppers, carrots, peas, and green beans.”
“What’s she eating now?”
“Chopped papaya.”
“What, did she run out of broccoli?”
“Yeah, yesterday.”
“I was just kidding. She eats broccoli?”
They were also impressed with her durum wheat semolina pasta in organic tomato soup with steamed tilapia and veggies (i.e., lunch). Oh, and her snack of sprouted whole grain wheat bread with artichoke hummus and Colby cheese. Allie now eats and enjoys avocado. Yay! So that’s everything she’s tried, as avocado was our sole “failed” food early on.

As for her physical stuff, she’s running, walking backwards, spinning in circles, and squat-walking (taking staggering steps forward while maintaining a plie’). She’s still forbidden to touch the Christmas tree and the boxes underneath, so she’s come up with new ways to make contact now. Aside from placing her toy on the boxes, she’ll now back up into the tree and boxes, never turning around. When she feels the tree or boxes, she’ll sit down on a box, still never turning around to look. “I’m not doing it on purpose if I don’t see where I am,” she seems to claim. Sometimes she backs up into it leaning forward, so that her butt sticks out and she’ll booty-bump the tree and ornaments repeatedly, still never looking back. “No, don’t touch it with your butt, either,” I’d say, and she’d straighten up and run off.

She also started kissing in the last month or so. She does it at will without being prompted, which makes the sign of affection that much cuter. She makes the kissy sound when she gives an air-kiss, but she’ll often run up to me to plant a silent open-mouthed kiss on my cheek, knee, or turn when I’m holding her and place a wet one on my cheek and then smile playfully at me. Most often, though, she kisses her favorite stuffed animals. Those are noisy smacks.

It’s also now apparent that she pays attention. I’d been rubbing an antiseptic lotion from a little bottle onto the dry patches on her ankles for months. Now she’d ask for the bottle (“bah!” while pointing), and then she’ll shake it up like I do, touch her fingers to the tip of the bottle cap (cuz I don’t hand it to her uncapped), touch those fingers to her knees and ankles and rub the areas, and then turn the bottle upside down and touch the tip to her ankles, like she’s pouring the lotion onto the right spots. Today during her bath, she took the washcloth and rubbed it on her feet, and then also scrubbed Mr. W’s knee with the washcloth, like she’d seen it done on her body parts. And then she dipped the washcloth in the water, took it out, and squeezed (some of) the water out.

Her words are still mostly the “B” stuff, though. “Bow-wow,” “ball,” “bir(d),” and the like. What she says most often, though, is “hi.” She added a fake laugh, a “heh heh heh,” into her spoken repertoire. It basically means, “I find that amusing.” She uses it when she sees a photo of a dog, gets a new toy that she’s examining, generally when she likes what she sees and wants to acknowledge that.

Naps are easy on us. She still has a very long latency period, usually 20-40 minutes before she falls asleep. But we basically leave her in her crib and exit her room and that’s it. She’ll take the time she needs to play on her own and soothe herself into her nap. Once down, she sleeps pretty well, being a lot less noise-sensitive than she’d been when she was younger, for at least an hour. At bedtime, she still nurses but not very long, usually less than 10 minutes a side. Then she’ll flip over onto her stomach on the Boppy and try to crawl to the armrest, babbling. At this point I pick her up, carry her to her crib, lay her down on her fuzzy bear while she giggles and smiles up at me, turn off her light, and leave. She plays for 30 minutes or so until she decides she’s now going to go to sleep, then she lays down, closes her eyes, and is asleep. She only sleeps about 10.5 hours overnight, though, waking up on her own around 6:30 every morning. I’m just happy she’s not waking at 5:15a anymore like she’d been doing for almost 2 months.

Mr. W finds it hilarious that she empties her toys out of her containers now and places the containers on her head, then giggles and tries to walk around blind.

My parents bought her a training potty for Christmas (my mom thinks I should’ve potty-trained her already), and this is what Allie did with the potty when she opened the gift:

Mostly, she’s a little clown and loves to make people laugh. This is her “mock shock” face, used when something drops or she walks into something and wants to express, “Ooh, did you see that?!”

She realized on Christmas Day, when we had my parents and grandma over, that when she stops, arches her back and sticks out her belly, we laugh. That made her stick out her belly more and more so that she’d grunt and strain trying to stay upright. We’d laugh harder. So then she started just exaggerating and faking the strain, grunting away, for our reactions. I think my mom has a video of it, but here are some stills.

Quite the little ham, isn’t she?

Oh, yes. In brushing her teeth tonight, I decided to do an additional count and inspection. Upper teeth, all 8 are out. The full bottom surface of her left upper molar is out, the incisor is out most of the way. Half of her right upper molar is out and the tip of her upper right incisor is out. Bottom teeth, nothing new is out, just the central 4. So that makes 12 teeth this month.

As if we need another sign of her quick growing up, I noticed that she often sleeps with her legs straight now. She doesn’t do the infant knees-tucked-up dissected-frog position anymore. I’d be okay if she slows down a TEENY bit now, but Mr. W can’t wait until she loses her morning nap and can have actual conversations with him.

The hubby took this holiday week off of work to stay home with Allie by himself. (I don’t have enough seniority at work to get high-demand days off.) I was nervous because on weekends and holidays when we’re both at home together, he usually isn’t aware of what time it is so he’s always surprised (and dismayed) when I say that we have to head home because Allie’s late for her nap or for lunch or whatever. I’d joked that I hoped Allie doesn’t miss all her meals and her naps this week, but Mr. W knew I was at least half-serious. Monday, Christmas Eve, was his first full day alone with her (he’d had half-days when Jayne would still come by at some point). The day went perfectly. He’d even had his friend over much of the day to do computer stuff, and even then, Allie had all her meals and naps on time. Today is the second day they’re home alone together.

I got this email from Mr. W at about 8:30am, with the subject line “Allie and I are fine,” and the content of the email:

We just went on a little bike ride. We love you. Come home early.

I thought, “That’s nice,” and then I got to the attachment:

I’m not sure how to respond.

Well hey, look at the date! I do believe I’m blogging BEYOND the end of the Mayan calendar. So where are we now? In a new cycle, of course. A new calendar. Moving on…

There’s a quote a friend posted on the social networking site, attributed to Lucille Ball:

I’d rather regret the things I’ve done than regret the things I haven’t done.

This is a popular notion and I’ve heard it in various forms. I don’t know if I’m a fuddy duddy or fatalistic or what the problem is, but I’ve always found the thought of that uncomfortable. To regret the things I’ve done would mean I’ve done something “negative.” To regret not doing something would mean I’ve missed out on something “positive.” I still think I’d rather miss out on doing something positive than to have done something bad that could negatively affect others. I would never think it’s okay to get crazy drunk out in public because I’m throwing caution to the wind to have fun so I don’t regret missing out, and then on my drive home, plow my car into a innocent driver. I can handle missing out on something fun; I can learn from that. But no amount of learning from doing an easily preventable damaging act could ever make things okay for the people involved. Go ahead and laugh at me for being no fun, being overly conservative, being the only sober one at a Vegas party. That is infinitely better to me than the morning after, doing the Walk of Shame, or waking up in jail or the hospital.

…until I finish building my time machine.

I had this email exchange earlier with my mom:

From: Mom
To: Cindy
Subject: END OF the WORLD

Does your boss give you a day off on this Friday 12-12-12 to stay with family? Get together with family for the day of end of the world!


From: Cindy
To: Mom
Subject: Re: END OF the WORLD

are you kidding? you’re joking, right?


From: Mom
To: Cindy
Subject: Re: Re: END OF the WORLD

Oh, so you don’t get day off then. It’s my regular day off anyway!
Some private co. in China gives their employee a day off to stay with family. Isn’t that nice? Die together if it happened, no one survived, no one feel heart broken.

This just reminds me of my mom’s fatalistic romanticized Asian-drama inspired statements told to me pretty often since I was 5, 6 years old, i.e. that we should all pack in a car and drive into a wall or off a bridge to die together as a family, and that way none of us will ever have to live to mourn the death of another of us. This statement usually comes after her reported news that someone she knows is potentially terminally ill, or has been very hurtful to another family member. It did not sit comfortably with me even at that young age, and I’d only hoped my mom wouldn’t have opportunity to do something to kill us all, hoped that none of us are ever diagnosed with a bad illness, because I knew that I did not want to die (yet). But to my mom, this was “the best way to go.” What if I wasn’t ready to go? Didn’t matter. Welcome to an Asian soap opera. Yes, that’s one example of the culture gap that you may have been deprived of if you don’t come from Asian immigrant parents.

From: Cindy
To: Mom
Subject: Re: Re: Re: END OF the WORLD

It’s not the end of the world! The Mayans can’t draw a calendar FOREVER.

My mom hadn’t responded, but I couldn’t help going onto the social networking site, where my mom has access to see my postings, and write (JUST in case there are others out there who are actually losing sleep on this):
“Cindy’s hubby saw a reporter’s interview with the Mayans, who are totally unconcerned about the 12/21/12 thing. Why? They say that 1. Nobody (i.e., no Mayans) even uses that calendar, and 2. No ancient Mayans ever said that day is doomsday; the calendar was made a looong time ago and they had to stop drawing it at SOME point, so they finished off this planetary cycle and were done making it. Basically, people freaking out about the end of the Mayan calendar may as well freak out every December when the calendars hanging on their walls don’t have another month behind it to turn to.”

I brought this up with my court staff earlier and my judge said jokingly, “Sounds like you’re pretty confident. I think there’s a lack of personal knowledge.” (Lack of personal knowledge — legal ground for an objection.)
I said, “Is ‘knowledge’ defined as information obtained solely from the 5 senses? Or can I use a 6th sense?”
Judge laughed and said, “I don’t think Witkin gets into that.” (Witkin is the published summary/analysis of California law.)

And for those of you who are God-loving AND pensive, I read this at a spiritual retail store when I was pregnant:
A baby is God’s opinion that the world should go on.
I just discovered this week alone that two of my cousins are now expecting, and that another friend-couple is expecting their second. I know many more babies are being planned. I won’t be joining you all on this new baby adventure, but I will follow your stories, because the world will go on.

I suck at gift wrapping. I really do. When I’m done with a gift, it looks like the cat did most of the work, even without the strands of fur stuck to the edges of the scotch tape. I remember as a child, watching my mother wrap gifts in a way that strategically used the least amount of wrapping paper, AND sometimes made a very cool folding design on a corner. Is it origami? Is it a gift? Who knows, but it has great clean lines and no creases that give away multiple attempts to center the gift on the paper, which is something that my wrapped gifts inevitably go through. It’s so humbling to spend so much time and engineering on covering a gift with formerly pretty paper, only to have it be all puffy and asymmetrical despite starting out as a perfect rectangle. Yeah, we’re not even talking about wrapping balls or stuffed animals or anything weird like that. Clearly the gift of wrapping (har) is not hereditary.

So instead of being a “traditional” couple in which the woman does all the decorative grunt work, in this marriage Mr. W is the aesthetics go-to person. When he wraps a gift, it looks like something done by a professional designer to showcase in a Macy’s holiday window display in New York, all centered artwork, tight lines, hidden tape, color-coordinated ribbons hanging in perfect curlicues, matching dramatic gift tag peeking out from a bow or floral accent. Sometimes shiny glittery foil stuff hangs from the gift, too. Clearly, it’s a lot of work, so if a gift has to be wrapped, I stall and mope and whine and hint until magically, with no effort from me, it turns into something worthy of being a centerpiece. The Christmas tree, by the way, is all him. Sure his projects usually involve some amount of cussing, but that’s why art is 1% inspiration, 99% perspiration, right? As long as I’m not the one perspiring.

This year, Mr. W is probably tired from all the baby care and the tree, because we’ve already exchanged presents. We ordered our stuff online (cuz having a baby is not conducive to going to the mall to get, well, mauled), and when they arrived, we just handed each other the shipping boxes as they came in. It’s very romantic, and perfect for two exhausted parents whose baby is too young (likely for the last time) to care and whose older (step)kidlets are too old to care and likely won’t be around, anyway. The stepdaughter definitely won’t be around; she’s spending this year’s holidays in Germany, and she spent last year’s in Haiti, so there’s our excuses to be lazy.

I’m SO lazy, in fact, that I lugged my judge’s Christmas gift in to work in the original delivery box with plans to go out at lunch to buy wrapping paper and wrap it, but he happened upon the box before lunchtime, asked about it, I confessed my lunch plans, did my whining hinting routine, and it worked on HIM, too. He gave me “special dispensation” to not wrap the gift, despite the fact that I know he and his family do a whole opening-the-gifts-together-under-the-xmas-tree-on-xmas-morning tradition. But shamelessly, I simply resealed the shipping box with small pieces of scotch tape over the packing tape, then stuck a small gift sticker directly on the cardboard box and wrote his name by the “to” prompt and my name by the “from” prompt. He’d half-joked that he’s fine with me just slapping a bow on it and leaving it unwrapped, and I didn’t even do THAT. Hey, at least I didn’t just write the “to” and “from” directly on the cardboard box with a permanent marker. =P

All that being said, I am grateful to the inventor of the gift bag concept, and grateful to society for making it not only acceptable, but common and trendy. I’m also grateful for being Chinese, cuz my gift to my grandma is an unwrapped Allie calendar and a red envelope stuffed with lots of cash. I guess by American standards, a gift of cash is “tacky,” but I still think it’s the best gift card. It doesn’t expire (although it does lose value over time), and every merchant will take it. Best of all, no wrapping required.

Over the weekend, Mr. W, Allie and I went back to the photo studio for our photo viewing and ordering session. I was right that prints from the studio were going to be expensive. The photography studio won’t give a digital version of anything you don’t buy prints for, so if you like a pose and would like to use it for online sharing or to use as a wallpaper on your phone or computer you have to buy prints first. Then you get a smaller-resolution digital version (that according to the photographer is “not printable,” not sure what they mean) of the purchased pose. This isn’t particularly conducive to modern day lifestyle, because people don’t have a bunch of printed photos laying around anymore. We share via online media, and the most printing many of us do is photo holiday cards once a year. Mr. W shares his photos exclusively via his iPad, the modern-day version of the photo wallet. When I’m asked for recent photos or videos of Allie, I pull out my smart phone.

That being said, we walked out of there with 2 poses ordered in various combinations of sizes and about $235 spent ($85 for the sitting fee and two 5x7s of one pose as their discounted holiday special, and for $150 more we ordered a second pose in a large print we could frame, plus a couple extra 5x7s of the first post we could give to grandparents). We were shown a slideshow with 20 or so of what the photographers considered their best edited photos, which we narrowed down to 8 of our favorites, and chose our 2 poses from there. I’m pretty loathe to let some of them go, and the photographer offered to give us a CD of all of them in full resolution sizes for $850, but…ouch. Kari’s photos are as good or better and we get her edited images on a CD, she came out on location for the shoot, all for $125, so I made Christmas cards from Kari’s digitals. (Because Kari does release her digital versions, she’d already emailed me quite a few so that I could make my xmas cards, but we won’t be able to get anything from the studio until shortly before Christmas and they’re already doing a “rush” job for us.) I totally get that Kari has less overhead as she’s not running a photo studio and having to pay rent, utilities and props/studio equipment, but that’s quite a huge difference in price. For the studio portraits (and they did very nice work and had great service), a 5×7 is $40 and subsequent prints purchased of the same pose is at a discounted price. They basically made it unaffordable for us to have a variety of shots for personal use. I suppose what we’re paying for is the work and man-hours put into creating and retouching each photo, not necessarily in the costs of making the prints themselves.

I think the photo studio will have to rethink the way they design their packages to fit the way photos are used these days, but I don’t see us going back for portrait shots, despite the fact that they do nice work and are wonderful people.

I think when you love children, it shows in your photography. Our outdoor photographer Kari, with whom we just did Allie’s 1-year outdoor shoot on Tuesday, told me soon after she arrived at our house, “I love kids. They’re my favorite subjects to photograph.” I love Allie, but I’m not really a kid-person. My attempts at photography this past month have been all right, but nothing to write home about. When I take an action shot of Allie it looks like this when it’s acceptable:

Cute subject, photo makes you smile, but it’s not artistic or anything. It’s Allie frolicking in a holiday wonderland.
When it’s just short of acceptable, it’s usually because composition is a little off, or the focus is mis-aimed. Allie moves fast; it’s not easy. For example, here’s an action shot of Allie in which I somehow managed to only have her knuckles in focus.

Leave it to me that the smallest body part is what I get the camera to focus on. =P
And then when I (attempt to) do a portrait shot, it’s not stunning. It’s just sort of “there.” Like this:

Again, cute subject, but without post-production cropping and other work, it’s not something that would even make me stop and go, “Ooh, I like that one.” So I’m glad I’d called in the professionals for Allie’s one-year photoshoots. We haven’t seen the studio shots done last week by inGrace Photography, yet, but we already got some digital proofs from Kari. Here are some of my favorites.
You saw my “portrait” of Allie, above. Now see Kari’s Portrait (with a capital “P”).

Stunning. I realize she did post-production work and played with oversaturation of hues, but still. This makes me stop in my tracks and gawk a little.
Here’s something with a little more personality showing. Allie walked around tickling herself with this fuzzy reed (?), and wouldn’t let it go.

Somehow it just conveys adoration. It’s almost as if a mother took the photo, but Kari doesn’t have kids (yet).
And here’s yet more personality, which Kari brought out herself by reaching in to tease and tickle Allie’s tummy, then swinging back very quickly to take the shot, then reaching up for a tickle and a tease as Allie giggles and plays back, then leaning quickly back for another snap.

Allie clearly really liked Kari. πŸ™‚
When I do a portrait of Daddy with Baby, it’s “fine.” It may even be “cute.” It’s like this:

But good golly, when Kari photographs Daddy with Baby, the two look cohesive and vibrant together.

Here’s a couple of the three of us together.

Words fail me. I don’t think photography’s even Kari’s day job! This photoshoot wasn’t easy; Allie kept taking off and almost deliberately always turned her back to the camera and/or ran away from it. In Kari’s own words, tho, “…but you would never be able to tell the way that bright smile screams ‘take my picture’…” The experience even inspired Mr. W to buy me a very nice portrait lens for my DSLR camera. I barely remember how to turn on my DSLR so I certainly was too intimidated to look into expensive, semi-professional accessories. However, unbeknownst to me, Mr. W was researching on my behalf. When we got home from work today, a box had arrived, which Mr. W handed me and told me to open right away — it was my Christmas present. The moment I touched the box, I said, a bit confused, “You got me a camera lens?” Why would he do that? I don’t know what I’m doing with the camera to justify a purchase like this.
Mr. W looked blank. “How did you know that?” I looked down at the plain box. “Does it say that on the box?” He took the box from me and looked at it, then handed it back.
“So it IS a camera lens?” I asked, still befuddled.
Now he looked a little crestfallen. I’d ruined my own surprise somehow. I opened the box. Mr. W installed it on my camera and played with it while I fed Allie dinner. Then he handed it to me as he took Allie’s bowl out of my hands. I was still unconvinced this was something necessary, especially given the expense, but a few minutes later, I realized this lens is exactly what I’d always wanted but didn’t know I was looking for. The effects created brought many creative visions I had to fruition. Now I really need to re-learn how to use my camera and take full advantage.

But, you know what? Kari’s probably 8-9 times cheaper than this lens. I’m definitely still going to keep her around. πŸ™‚

Our Christmas tree went up December 1 during Allie’s first nap period. My only contribution to it was a joking affirmative response when Mr. W asked if Allie’s giant Hello Kitty balloon, which the stepdaughter and her boyfriend bought for Allie’s birthday, would make a good tree-topper. And next thing I knew, there it was.

It’s fun to watch Allie test her boundaries, just a little bit. Mr. W figured we’d just “teach her” not to touch the tree, ornaments, decorations, boxes, etc. I thought, “Fat chance.” Tree, little bright lights, shiny balls, ribbons.

When I brought Allie down from her nap, she saw the tree on her way down the stairs and her eyes lit up. She pointed, delighted. “Ehh?”
“Tree!” I said.
“Bbbbbloon bbbbloon!” She pointed higher.
“Yeah, that’s your balloon!”
I put her down in front of the tree in the living room and let her have a closer look. At her height, she saw all the big boxes and pointed excitedly. “BAH!” she pointed to our prop presents. I hadn’t even known she knew the word for “box” (minus the last consonant sound, as usual).
“That’s right, box! Lots of boxes!”
“BAH!” She walked up to the boxes and picked one up. I let her play with it as I took some photos with the DSLR. And that was the last time she was allowed to touch anything Christmas tree-related.

So she’ll walk up to it once in awhile, and point. We let her do that. And then her finger would draw closer to an ornament, slowly. When she makes contact, we say, “No. Don’t touch.” She pulls away, clasps her little hands behind her back, never turning around. She leans forward, which we let her do. And then she sniffs the tree. That’s okay, so we don’t say anything. She plops down and looks at the box. “Baw?” She reaches out and points. That’s okay. She reaches farther, touches with her hands.
“No, don’t touch the box.” She ignores us. “Allie,” in a stern warning tone. She freezes. She pulls her hand back, standing, staring at the box. And then slowly, tentatively, a foot will reach out toward the box, hanging in the air. “Don’t touch with your foot either.” She pulls her foot back. And then she’ll proceed to forget all about the tree, the boxes, the ornaments, until someone new comes over. Then she’ll point to the tree as if to show them the newest addition to our living room, and sometimes she’ll go through the testing of limits again, gingerly.
Overall, though, she’s a surprisingly obedient kid. Hoping we just skip the terrible two cliche personality altogether. πŸ™‚

Mr. W’s putting up our Christmas tree instead of playing Diablo (or some other PC game[s]), so I finally get to use the computer! Woohoo! Let’s see, where did we leave off about last weekend, when my baby became a whole year old? *scrolling* Oh yes, Saturday, the day after her birthday.

Late morning on Saturday, I frosted Allie’s cake as she napped. If anyone is interested in making sugar-free frosting for their desserts, I used 4 ounces of whipped cream cheese (you can use regular softened cream cheese) and stirred 1/4 teaspoon of vanilla extract and 2.5 tablespoons of apple juice concentrate (it comes frozen, so just thaw it) into it, whipping with the spoon. Then I added undiluted beet juice for coloring with a dropper. You can see a photo of the finished cake on Part 1.
Then Allie’s paternal grandparents came by to hang out with The Birthday Girl while we (okay, Mr. W) prepped her birthday food for our family gathering.

As you can see, Allie decided to wear a shirt that labels who she is, in case of confusion.
When my parents got there, we had a feast of prime rib, mashed potatoes, string beans, cornbread stuffing, and all sorts of stuff that we set up in the backyard to take advantage of the beautiful weather.

There was a ton of leftovers, since my grandma backed out last minute for a church event, and both of Mr. W’s older kids decided not to come until the evening. It’s nice to have ready-made food in the fridge.
First, we toasted to the birthday girl.

Allie didn’t get her own cup of champagne, but my mom wanted her to have a taste of the sweet Asti Spumante. I dabbed a spoon in my flute and touched it to her lips. She licked her lips…and then pointed at the glass, requesting, “Mmm?” I didn’t give her more.

Allie enjoyed her lunch outside, too!

And she got to listen to Gong-Gong (maternal grandpa) tell stories.

Allie’s favorite part about being outside is, as usual, playing with treasures she finds on the ground.

While Allie took her afternoon nap, we (okay, Mr. W) decorated the living room for her specially. I got her after her nap, changed and fed her upstairs, and as she came downstairs, she found the house transformed.

Look, Allie! Balloons and presents! And now big brother and big sister are here, too!

Yay, she’s actually allowed to rip paper! She wasn’t sure what to do, since she was always being told “no” and having paper taken away from her when she starts ripping.

Allie got her first piece of furniture from Gong-Gong (grandpa) and Po-Po (grandma): a beanbag chair! I don’t know how she carried something that heavy and awkward without falling, but she gets lots of practice.

Gift bags were easier for her than gift wrapping, since she still didn’t trust that she was allowed to rip paper without being chided.

Next, it was time for her smash cake. Mr. W pulled her high chair into the living room, lined the floor, put a big “1” bib on her, and put the cake down. She touched the frosting tentatively. “Yeah! Eat it!” everyone encouraged. She gave a little taste with a finger, and it was good! So she offered it to her grandparents.

Since there were no takers (no one likes organic healthy cakes except for me, the baby, and Mr. W), she decided to eat it herself.

She stayed daintily clean and neat until…

Oh, well. This is why I loaded on the frosting.

Allie later had her first taste of ice cream, too. Organic vanilla bean, thanks to her Gong-Gong and Po-Po’s willingness to share. She only got a little bite and didn’t ask for more.

And then, she just played the rest of the night away. With two grandmas and two grandpas…

…two older siblings…

…supervising the photography…

…it was enough to tire a girl out!

“Thanks for my beanbag chair, Po-po. I’m ready for bed now.”

On Monday, the three of us went to Mr. W’s parents’ hotel for a visit before they left. Allie had breakfast with us at the hotel, and she had scrambled eggs, bits of home potatoes, and cow’s milk for the first time! She ate so well and so eagerly that we’re not letting her have a lot more table food. It’s all going well, if a little too quickly at this point. πŸ™‚
Thanks for the first year, my little sunshine and rainbows!