January 2013

College roommie is weaning her daughter (2 weeks younger than Allie) off the bottle, and seems to be having a hard time. It seems like the first year and a half of a baby’s life is all about taking food and in what delivery method it’s supposed to be done. Getting the baby used to breastfeeding, getting the baby bottle-trained. Then getting the kid to take a sippy cup by age 1 so that the bottle can be eliminated by 15 months. And then I just read fairly recently that I’m supposed to wean off the sippy cup around 13 months. What the heck? Then why even introduce it for such a short period? And then there are doctor’s suggestions/standards about not letting the baby go to bed with a bottle, not giving juice in a bottle (both for cavity concerns), not letting the kid run around with a bottle or a sippy, not letting a bottle or pacifier be frequent companion for the baby over the age of 1 so the kid doesn’t get “bottle mouth” when teeth are growing. Having something constantly in the mouth slows down speech development. Blah blah blah.

We got lucky with Allie. She nursed well and aside from an early-age bottle strike that lasted a weekend, drank breast milk from the bottle well. She would even take the bottle from me when we were bottle-training by giving her a bottle a day in preparation for my return to work. She got a bottle after each nap, but soon seemed to not care one way or the other, and would run off after being released from the changing table post-nap to go play. She’d have to be snatched back to be given the bottle, which she then takes without any issues. So when she dropped naps, we simply dropped the corresponding bottle feeding along with that nap, and she didn’t care. Then when she was down to 2 naps a day and I was running out of stored breast milk after her first birthday, we dropped the bottle feeding that normally came after the afternoon nap and replaced it with a snack. She didn’t have a problem with that, and as we introduced cow’s milk after her first birthday, we always served a couple of ounces of it at a time with her meals in a measured container with a straw. She would drink milk from that just fine, she drank smoothies out of a straw just fine, and she drank water from a straw and a sippy just fine. Basically whatever form we offered anything in, she took. We started the straw early, around 6 months, by plugging up the top of it with our thumb and transferring water from a cup to her mouth through the bottom of the straw when we were at a restaurant. That way she got to drink from what she saw us drinking from, and got used to the idea of a straw. Then as she got older and could suck, we let her use the straw the right way on the few occasions we gave her water when we were out. The sippy cup was only learned after she mastered the straw, because the non-drip Playtex sippies we got required a harder suction. I think this had to do with why she always choked when she drank water from the sippy (we’ve only ever served water in her sippy cups). For ease, we have been giving her water in her sippy cup with the lid removed, and a straw. Less stuff to wash, anyway. She’s been fine and seems to be over her choking on water thing as of this week. When the frozen stockpile of breastmilk ran out a couple of weeks ago, we removed that bottle feeding, I removed that pumping session, and she and I are on par now with only a morning wake-up nursing and a bedtime put-down nursing. I’d already put away the bottles a week ago.

I think the only person who’s sad about these stages of growth passing by is Jayne. Allie used to be put to nap by falling asleep on us as we held her while standing and swaying back and forth for 10-15 mins, then being transferred to her crib, which was a source of anxiety as the transfer may or may not wake her up and she may or may not go right back to sleep once in her crib. I was relieved, and thought Jayne would be relieved, when Allie decided she no longer wanted to be held and rocked to sleep for naps and instead would reach for her crib and practically leap out of our arms pulling at and hanging onto the crib railing to go straight in. It was a time-saver and a back-saver…but Jayne said she missed it and was sad to lose that cuddling time with Allie. Then as the bottle feeding sessions dropped off, Jayne once again expressed regret to see them go, occasionally telling me that it seems like Allie WANTs the bottle (which we haven’t found to be an issue, more like if you offer it, then she wants to play with it, but if you don’t offer it, it’s out-of-sight, out-of-mind). I think what Jayne misses is the intimacy of holding Allie for an extended amount of time. Our active little girl sometimes asks to be held or cuddled, but not that often, and not with everyone, and usually only for a minute at a time. She’s usually more eager to be off on her own exploring or playing and running.

The one-nap thing is going fairly well. Some days, Allie will seem to really want to nap at 9a, 10a, though. For the most part, Jayne has stopped giving her the opportunity to nap in the morning and moved the afternoon nap down from late afternoon to closer to 1pm, which is when it’s supposed to be. Friday, Jayne let Allie take two naps because she said Allie was so tired, yawning, rubbing her eyes, being crabby in the morning, that she must’ve really needed it. So she got two naps, each over an hour, but the second one was late so it made her bedtime later. Today, even tho she showed drowsy signs at the old morning nap time, I didn’t take her to her room and instead let her keep playing. We gave her an early lunch then put her in her crib 10 minutes before noon. She was out by noon and slept until 2:30p. Then given the longer awake interval before bedtime, she fell asleep during nursing, went right back to sleep after I gently transferred her to her crib, and has been in bed asleep since 7pm. I can get used to this. However, as with almost everything that I write on here, I’ve probably just jinxed myself.

(Today, my parents and grandma brought Curry House takeout over to celebrate my dad’s and grandma’s bdays together. My mom asked whether Jayne speaks to Allie while caring for her all day. I said of course. Mom said she was thinking that maybe Allie’s not learning to talk because no one talks to her. Grrrr, Allie is FINE.)

I finally got our on-site photographer’s photos by mail yesterday. We’d done the photoshoot December 11, paid the photographer Kari in cash then, and she’d said that the photos normally take 2-3 weeks to be done but she’d agreed to edit a few images for me and email them within 2 days so that I could use them for Christmas cards. She did start working on them right away, it seemed, as I’d seen some photos go up online, but all of them had her watermark across them. I waited a week then called, emailed, and texted her asking for the photos to be emailed. She finally got back to me and said sure, she’d email them that night, and did. She actually emailed something like 15 photos (sans watermark). I was delighted with the photos, the xmas card was a big hit. Her package included a CD of edited images and two 8×10 prints. We didn’t really need the prints, but we wanted the images. I was hoping for a good photo that I could use to take advantage of an online special for a design-your-own cell phone cover, 50% off. I checked online periodically, and the special was still ongoing.

Weeks went by with no photos in the mail, and I started wondering whether the emailed photos, to Kari, was a replacement for the CD. I emailed Kari December 26 asking if we are still getting the CD, and she responded a week and a half later on January 5 (Saturday), saying that yes, she will put the CD and prints in the mail by Monday. The next week came and went. The week after that came and went. I once again started my multiple ways of contact. Phone calls were again unanswered, so I finally emailed her on January 17, “Hi Kari, Have you sent the CD/prints, yet? We haven’t received anything, I wanted to make sure it didn’t go to a wrong address. The correct address is [address].” No response. This is someone who was responsive to the point of multiple back-and-forths in a day when we were booking the session, as she addresses her emails via her smartphone as well. I called her and left her a voice mail January 23 asking if she got my email. I got a text later that evening saying that she’d sent the photos and they should be at our house no later than the next day. We did get the package the next day, and saw that she’d used overnight shipping and spent over $12 on postage alone. (She didn’t charge much at $125 for her entire package.)

When we got the CD with over 30 images and two 8x10s of Kari’s choice — a shot of Allie laughing in the beach chair and a shot of the 3 of us, Mr. W was so happy with them that he’s already considering using Kari again, but I wonder if he really wants to go through all that again. He had been annoyed at our delayed photos, as well. I actually felt bad for “pestering” Kari about the photos, and then I felt annoyed that I felt bad because she’d clearly had the photos done already and just not gotten around to sending them, and if she’d done what she’d said she’d do, I wouldn’t have had to pester her. I don’t like being in a position where I have to hound someone to do something and feel embarrassed hounding them. I still like her and she’s clearly been busy doing photoshoots since our photoshoot (I’ve seen new albums go up online), but sending a prepaid package over a month AFTER the promised date and not being responsive to my inquiries and calls are not very professional. I wonder how long it would’ve taken, or if I would’ve ever gotten it, had I NOT pestered her about it.

So with both companies, the one that did Allie’s studio portraits and the one that came out on-site for an outdoor shoot, I’m content with the quality of the work and the photographers themselves, but their follow-up could use some work.

Anyway, here are some favorites from the CD. First, an Allie portrait:

Then, some Daddy-Allie shots:

Then an Allie and Mommy shot:

And finally, Allie with both parents:

(As usual, rest mouse pointer over photos for captions. For more photos from Kari’s photoshoot, see here.)

I tried to make the last photo above into a cell phone case, but no matter how I worked it, the cut-outs for the rear camera and flash of the Galaxy SIII phone would be over Mr. W’s forehead. =P And altho the 50% off special had still been available this week, it has now expired, anyway.

So would I recommend inGrace Photography? Yes, if you want good quality prints (their prints were beautifully mounted on cardstock, matte), don’t need a big variety or digitals, and/or if money were not an object. Would I recommend Kari Flores Photography? Yes, if you’re not in a rush and like variety and digitals. Both were great with Allie.

photo from xmas '12
My little baby-boo is 14 months old today. Whew.

My parents were over this weekend and remarked that she’s so quick with copying everything they do, such as gestures or making faces or working the computer mouse, EXCEPT for talking. They shrugged and said she’s just a very, very delayed talker. Dude! She’s on par with all the published expectations for her age group. I don’t think my parents remembered correctly when they claimed I was reciting Chinese poetry before I was 1. Allie uses single words only, but she’s got quite a few of them, and adding new ones every day. Mr. W recently taught her to call out “mama” when she needs me, so she does that now and I have to stop what I’m doing to respond so that I could encourage her to use her words. She still plays the “bayaya” game in her bedroom and attached bathroom. And she hums a lot, she hums along with music playing, she’ll sing “lalala” when she’s playing with her toys or hears the stepkidlet practicing singing and guitar. Sometimes when we’ve tuned music out, we’ll see Allie wiggling rhythmically in her high chair and we’ll realize there’s a perky song playing in another room.

Allie’s a little more fussy now than she used to be. She’ll whine if she’s put down before she wants to be, and turn and jump up and down with her arms around me until I pick her back up. She’ll frown and complain if you take something away from her before she’s done with it. She still resists and rolls to her stomach and tries to run away when we’re trying to change her diaper about 30% of the time. BUT, she’s still got the easy laughter, the sneaky playfulness, the curiosity. She loves to run to the windows or glass doors and look outside. She gives an excited gasp and looks at us and smiles or forms an “o” with her mouth when she hears Dodo yowl, or a siren roll by. When nursing, she sticks her free hand under my arm and tries to tickle me, giggling before I could even react. She still empties out her toy boxes and buckets and walks around with the container over her head. (This last item we took advantage of and have been putting hats on her when we go outside; she protests things on her head less now.)

Strange thing — she keeps choking when she drinks water. It doesn’t matter if we give it to her in a cup, in a sippy, in a straw. If it’s water, she’ll hack and cough as it goes down the wrong way. Milk, no problem. Her food is pretty much all chopped food and small bites now. We now feel safer handing her a large food item (such as a chunk of banana or a baby cookie stick) and letting her eat it in manageable bites, or she’ll dip it into yogurt or applesauce and eat it in small bites. Even weeks ago, she’d just stuff the entire thing into her mouth. She LOVES kumquats. Blech. And she loves the spiciness of ginger. Mr. W will juice ginger root and pour a bunch of that into her fruit smoothie and Allie will chug it.

2 or 3 molars are now out, and the teeth I had been most curious about are peeking out: her canines. I had learned decades ago that the oval pointed canines are a strictly Asian trait. Forensic people can tell an Asian skull immediately by looking at the canines. Mr. W calls my canines “sharp little cat teeth” since I used to bite him with them in play. My mom calls my dad’s pointed canines “tiger teeth.” Since Allie’s of mixed heritage, would her canines be flat like Mr. W’s, or pointed like mine? I was delighted the other day to see that her canines are like BABY VAMPIRE TEETH. They are SO cute.

In the past week, Allie has been mostly skipping her morning naps or dramatically shortening them (21 minutes over the weekend). Given that, I think Jayne has started deliberately keeping her busy and out in the mornings to do away with the morning nap altogether, and to encourage a long afternoon nap. We’ll now be getting more time to DO stuff. Yay!

Allie’s over her cold and is once again, healthy and strong.

And did I say active? Yes, quite active.

Dodo was puking more frequently than usual the last few weeks, and occasionally I’d find a hairball in it so I wouldn’t worry about it, but at the end of last week, in one morning he’d left 5 piles of vomit, and a lot of it was just yellow bile. Knowing this is a symptom of his progressive kidney disease, I increased his antacid prescription med (fantomidine, aka Pepcid) to twice daily (which was the original prescribed amount, but I’d only been using it as-needed with the vet’s approval) and made him an appointment for a kidney re-check for yesterday. Over the weekend, he didn’t vomit once, so I figure I’ve updated his antacid to his current needed amount, but it’d still be a good idea to do a blood test anyway to make sure his other daily prescription meds, amlodipine for high blood pressure and a supplement of potassium, are still within the proper amount as his last checkup was last April.

Dodo’s blood pressure at the vet was super-high again, 220/200. The doctor told me to increase amlodipine from 0.25 ml per dose to 0.3 ml per dose, and meanwhile they took his bloodwork.

For the past 2 days since I’d increased his amlodipine by a measly 0.05 ml, he has completely STOPPED yowling. I thought it was just part of his feeding routine, since he’ll get up, eat food and/or drink water, then come back to his sleeping spot and yowl at the top of his lungs 8-12 times, then settle down and go back to sleep. He’s been doing this for over a year. Both vets at the current animal hospital Dodo goes to have told me yowling may be a sign of headaches caused by high blood pressure, but since he only did it as part of his feeding routine, we sort of just dismissed it as one of his quirks now. Maybe it HAD been a headache issue the past year+. That makes me feel bad, because now I’m wondering if his amlodipine amount was never high enough, since the blood pressure machine was broken when we went back for a recheck last year after he started his meds. We didn’t worry about his blood pressure too much despite being in the dark about what it actually was, because blood test results then came back within normal ranges after he started meds.

The vet called with blood test results yesterday. Dodo’s kidney disease has progressed in the last year — his calcium levels are elevated so the kidneys aren’t filtering out as much calcium as they need to; he’s extremely anemic because his kidneys aren’t producing the hormone that tells his bones to make red blood cells; one of his kidney enzyme values has now gone past normal and into “high.” Lowering his blood pressure back into normal would slow down the disease again and it would be less like “blasting a fire hydrant into a weak filter.” Hopefully the kidney enzyme levels would go back into the normal range with that alone. As for the anemia, I’m going to have to do a 2-week course of subcutaneous injections on Dodo to add the “make red blood cells” hormone back into his system, and the vet says I should see an energy spike and hopefully also an increased appetite after that, and the injection would only be given on a rare “as needed” basis thereafter. The vet thought Dodo’s kidneys felt like they were within a normal size range, an improvement over the enlarged kidneys the other vet had found a year ago, when the disease was not yet treated.

To help Dodo’s constipation (since the kidneys don’t leave enough fluid in his system thanks to the disease), I’ve been giving him prescription canned “wet food” the past few days in addition to his prescription dry kibbles. Unfortunately, the wet food is in pate form, and Dodo has never done well with pates. He likes them and will eat them, but his tongue doesn’t seem to know how to bring the food up into his mouth. He ends up smashing the food into the bottom and lower walls of the bowl. I often fluff the food back up with a spoon and sit it loosely in a pile like a mountain, and he’ll go at it again, smashing the food back down instead of picking it up. I followed the vet’s suggestion the past 2 nights of putting the wet food on top of some dry food to keep it off the bottom of the bowl, and that’s worked better. Dodo loves it; he purrs so loudly when he’s working at his wet food, and his poops did seem to be less dry. (Sorry for the scatology report.) Poor little kitty had never strained and grunted while in the litter box before this stupid kidney disease. The vet also suggested squirting some mineral oil (about 1 ml) into his food to help moisturize, so I’ll have to go find some mineral oil. It’s so much nicer to lure Dodo out to be medicated by the scent of yummy food, instead of by picking him up and out against his will. And immediately giving him the bowl of wet food after medicating him is a much better and more effective distraction to keep him from trying to puke his meds back up. (I used to try to get him to drink water, pet him, if he’s gagging already I’d pick him up and rock him, or I’d q-tip his ears.)

This weekend, I get to go get “trained” on kitty injections. I guess I’m grateful I was my own guinea pig first. I’ve stabbed myself with enough subcutaneous syringes to know that it doesn’t hurt. Usually.

One quick anecdote before I get into the zoo stuff: this morning as I was pouring milk for Allie’s breakfast, Allie pointed at the milk carton from her high chair and said, “Baby!”
“Milk,” I corrected her, still pouring.
“No baby here, mil–” And then I saw it. On the side of the milk carton facing Allie was a photo of a toddler as the milk manufacturer explained why the added DHA is good for developing bodies. “Oh, you’re right. There IS a baby here.”
“Baby.” You’d think I would’ve learned after all the “bbbbloon”s, “bow-wow”s and “mau-mau”s she points out way before I see or hear them.
~ * ~
Yesterday, because the weather’s so beautiful (high 80s!), Mr. W and I took Allie to Irvine Park with intention of going to the zoo inside. The zoo isn’t grandiose with exotic animals the way San Diego Zoo is, but it’s got local animals and a petting zoo. Not bad for $5 parking and $2 per adult zoo entry. We parked in a general area and walked past picnic spots and a pony ride area to the zoo section, Mr. W holding Allie and handing me the DSLR camera. Turns out he’d only brought the 2 new portrait lenses (my xmas present), which was a bit of a pain because I had to be far away to fit what I needed into the frame. But you do get nice focused shots in an otherwise too-busy background.
On the way to the zoo part of the giant park, Mr. W saw a hollow tree and inserted the baby.

I don’t actually know what she was standing on, because she was in there alone, and I’m not tall enough to look in. I didn’t have time to check it out anyway as Mr. W said there’s a big black spider in there so to hurry and take the shots so we can get Allie out.

She didn’t get bitten and she rather enjoyed the view from there.
Having just entered the zoo, Mr. W placed her in front of the sign so we’ll know for future reference where we are. However, the lens did not zoom out at all so I couldn’t fit the sign in the frame.

I ran across the walkway, backed up against an opposing building, waited for all the people walking between us to pass, and managed to get this shot. Unfortunately, I was too far away for her to hear me call her to try to get her attention.

Mr. W said I complained too much about the lenses. I guess I was verbalizing all the difficulty I was having getting the shots in the frame. But the lens was good for stuff like this:

It’s not often we could get a nice clear shot of her eyes since she’s always running around and she has such dark eyes. But the problem with trying to photograph in a busy outdoors area is that one parent has to always be very close to Allie while the other parent runs 20 feet away to get a shot, and it wouldn’t be possible if I were by myself. As it was, an entire boy scout troop and some goats were running my kid over.

It was easier when Mr. W picked her up. For both me to photograph and for the goats to not nibble at her hat.

Allie likes kids (human kids) more than she likes strange animals. This turkey didn’t hold her attention as much as the little girl next to her did. (I say “strange animals” as distinguished from familiar animals, such as Dodo, whom Allie runs to joyously every chance she gets and then squats down in front of to give him a kiss.)

BTW, turkeys make soft, rather pretty and soothing cooing noises. It’s nothing like the “gobble gobble” we were told in school that they make.
Mr. W introduces Allie to a sleeping bear. It must be nothing like what she expected, because she didn’t recognize it and say, “Bay!” like she does when she sees teddy bears.

More father-daughter animal-gazing. I don’t remember what they were looking at because I couldn’t back up far enough to fit it into the frame. =P

Along the pathway, Daddy pointed out some interesting stuff…

…and Baby pointed out some interesting stuff.

Yeah, Allie ran up to and petted more than a few trash cans that trip.
We had lunch at the park’s picnic area, and altho Allie ate homemade organic carrot-kale-celery-fennel greens-ground beef-bell peppers-and-brown rice porridge and freshly homemade granny smith applesauce, Mr. W and I tried the snack bar’s burrito, hamburger and fries. They were surprisingly good, albeit slow to arrive. Soon, it was time to go home.
I don’t know what was said between the two during the walk since I had to run 60 yards away to take the photo, but I imagine it went something like this…
Allie: Thank you for taking me on my first trip to the zoo, Daddy.
Mr. W: Thank you for coming into my life, Allie.

One last quicky photo op before getting in the car:

Yesterday when we got home from work, we found that Allie has picked up a new trick. When she drops something (toy on the floor, food from her hand onto the tray), she says “Uh-oh” (pronounced “ah-uh”). She doesn’t say it when she drops or throws something deliberately, only when it’s an oopsie. She probably picked that up from Jayne. It was cute, until I had visions of what she’d showcase as tricks picked up from daycare or preschool, when it’s not a highly religious Christian adult that she interacts with all day.

I didn’t do my noontime pumping today, the only pump session I’ve done for awhile. I knew it would be this week that I stopped pumping, but I didn’t know when; it all hinged on when Allie finishes the frozen stockpile at home. Today, she had only 4.5 ounces left in the freezer, which I’m sure she’s already had for her singular bottle feeding after her morning nap. We’d stopped giving her the bottle after her afternoon nap months ago and replaced that feeding with a snack. She doesn’t care; when we get her from her nap and finish changing her diaper, she rolls over, bounces up, and runs off. It’s not like she points to the La-Z-Boy recliner we nurse on and says “mum mum,” which she still does mornings upon waking up and nights at bedtime. So since she’s out of stored milk and my measly 2oz pump yields won’t be enough to fill her bottle for a normal feeding, she’s being simultaneously weaned off the bottle completely and I’m weaning myself off the pump completely to coordinate with her.

I’d looked forward to weaning off the pump for months, but now that it was down to the days this week, it was a little unsettling. Was it the right thing to do, since she’s sick and could use the antibodies? Is the timing okay? Should I replace the morning bottle with a snack as well, or would that be too much food? How will my body respond? Will I be uncomfortable all day? Am I gonna be fat now that I’m not expelling those extra few hundred calories in milk?

I comfort myself by thinking that Allie’s still nursing mornings and nights, so she’s still getting my antibodies, and plus, she’s getting over her cold anyhow. So I’m still burning 2/3 of the calories I had been, despite now losing my excuse to not exercise regularly at lunchtime. And given that I’ve only been able to eke out about 2, 2.5 ounces for a couple of weeks, my body is likely ready to be down to just the 2 nursings a day. Plus, it’ll make Mr. W happy to not be slave to my pumping schedule when we go out by ourselves. I’ve pumped now in the car multiple times, once while it was still driving; I’ve pumped in a clean bathroom stall of a car dealership while sitting on the floor (thankfully it was totally private and no one had been in the restroom that day and no one used it the entire time I was in there); pumped at my cousin’s house; in hotel rooms; parked outside supermarkets, restaurants and parks; my jury room; my jury room restroom; other people’s jury room restrooms; my judge’s chambers; a doctor’s spare exam room. It’s nice to not have to think about it or have to figure out a place to rinse all the pump parts ASAP afterwards for fear milk would dry up or decay in the inaccessible little ports and crevices.

Allie’s cold is significantly better. I didn’t even have to clear her nose the last 2 mornings, and although she still has an occasional phlegmy-sounding cough a few times a day and may need to have her nose cleared after the occasional sneeze, for the most part she’s back to normal.

Except for the napping. By 15 months, more than half of toddlers have eliminated one of their 2 remaining naps, and the one that’s supposed to go is the morning nap. Allie has always fallen asleep faster and often longer for her morning nap. A few random times within the last couple of months or so, she’d skipped an afternoon nap here and there, turning the crib time into a quiet playtime. For the past 2 days in a row, she’d played the entire afternoon naptime in her crib, and although she fell asleep earlier at night, she’d been no different behavior-wise. She may be eliminating it early. In just about everything I read, the babies are supposed to eliminate their morning nap at this point and keep their afternoon nap for the next few years, but Dr. Weissbluth’s “Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Child” gave us a Plan B if she eliminates the 1st nap instead. I’d instructed Jayne to keep doing the regular 2-nap routine for the rest of the week and if Allie consistently turns the 2nd nap into quiet playtime, then Mr. W and I will eliminate the 2nd nap and start moving her morning nap back until it becomes an early afternoon nap. When she goes to preschool and they give age-appropriate naps, it will be in the afternoon, anyway. Mr. W’s dream of having more awake time to DO stuff with Allie may be coming true sooner than expected.

Having a whole morning and most of an evening free with a happy Allie is going to be a lot of fun. We can go to parties (there’s one coming up we were thinking we wouldn’t be able to attend as it’s an hour away), have more leisurely meals out, visit my parents and friends at their homes, or simply discover new things about Allie, which we do constantly. This past weekend, the stepdaughter said, “Go in your house,” and Allie got up and walked into her little pink tent castle that the stepkidlets had gotten her for her birthday, and looked out at us from the sheer window. “Most obedient kid in the world,” I joked. I tell her it’s bath time, naptime, bedtime, dinner time, whatever time it is, and she will drop whatever she’s doing, bounce up, and happily go and wait by the appropriate babygate doorway to go where she needs to go. We’d open the gate, and she’d run to the kitchen, climb up the stairs, wherever it is she’s going. If it’s naptime, she picks up her furry blanket that she naps with first before she goes to wait by the gate. Yesterday, Allie picked up a dropped sock from behind the stepdaughter, who was doing laundry, recognized it as a sock and tried to press it onto her own foot. Later, they were playing in the stepdaughter’s room and I heard a, “Show mom!” Allie came walking carefully out to find me in the kitchen with a floral headband and a matching scarf on. After she stood there for a second so I could exclaim how cute she was, she turned and walked back into the stepkidlet’s bedroom. Later, the stepkidlet said “show mom” was an immediate command she followed without further instruction. Jayne has said that she’d told Allie they were going for a walk, and while she was packing some things Allie showed up holding her shoes. So much fun.

I discovered that Flip Flop Girl gets a regular delivery of organic fruits and veggies straight from an organic produce farm, so I asked her about it, she loves it, and we signed up (www.FarmFreshToYou.com). We have a Ralphs grocery store and a Sprouts healthy grocery store within walking distance of our home, but after the 5th straight batch of black, rotten avocados we’d purchased from Sprouts, we wanted a different option. And sure across the street is pretty convenient, but we sometimes have trouble even getting there since we’re always rushing everywhere to fit errands in within Allie’s awake times and in-between mealtimes, and sometimes we just discover that we’re out of something and we’re too tired to run back out again. So it doesn’t get more convenient than opening the front door once a week and, Oh look! A box of fresh organic fruits and vegetables!

We just got our first box last week. 2 lemons, 3 apples, 3 Mandarin oranges, 4 kiwis, 3 bunches of broccoli, a pound of kale leaves, many bunches of spinach, 2 bunches of carrots, and a mystery plant with a white bulb and furry leaves that Mr. W and I couldn’t identify. $25 including delivery. The stuff that we have eaten already were delicious. The mystery item turned out to be fennel, and although we eat fennel seed fairly commonly, we’d never entertained a thought about the plant it comes on. Turns out that a ton of my friends are familiar with fennel plant, and I got a bunch of recipe ideas for shaved fennel salad, roasted fennel bulb, etc.

It was really great when I realized we were low in our variety of one-pot meals for Allie, and I had all the ingredients on hand to cook immediately last night without a grocery store run. I made an all-organic brown rice porridge with chopped carrots, fennel (bulb & stalk), celery, kale and browned beef for Allie, and set a small bowl aside for Mr. W to taste at his request. Allie gobbled up a generous portion of it for dinner, for dessert she had fresh homemade applesauce with multi-grain cereal stirred in, and my little sick girl got hopefully all the right nutrition to fight this cold of hers. I had enough of the porridge to freeze 12 additional generous portions for her future meals.

After Allie went to bed last night, I asked Mr. W what he thought of Allie’s latest one-pot meal. “Delicious,” he said. “I wish WE could eat like that.” I think that’s his way of saying I’m a great mom but a derelict wife. Mr. W will be getting a one-pot meal with organic spinach tonight. =P

Now that Allie has had a wet cough for the 3rd day, and now has a runny nose, she LOVES the nasal suction tool. She used to cry and squirm and bat my hand away when I would try to suction out a booger, but I think she now realizes she NEEDs suction and that it makes her itchy wet nose feel dryer and less itchy, she now asks for it by pointing and saying, “Mmm?”, she lays back voluntarily and watches the bulb or aspirator expectantly, and if we’re too slow for her, she’ll grab it and put it in her nose herself. She stays very still when we’re suctioning and smiles when we’re done. Sometimes when we’re done, she insists on Round 2, pointing and asking us to do it again, being upset when we tell her we’re done. This is true for the nasal aspirator bulbs, the 2-piece bulb with a straw that Mr. W jimmied (my favorite one), and the BabyComfyNose. So now we can switch off so that when one is drying after being used and washed, we can use another one. And I don’t think I’ve ever pulled so much slime out of Allie’s nose before, even the last and only time she’d been sick almost exactly a year ago. (But she was smaller then, so she produced less boogers per square inch.)

Aside from the occasional wet coughs (that would sometimes wake her up when she’s napping or starting fall asleep at night) and even less occasional sneezes, Allie’s still the same old happy-go-lucky goofball. She now knows how to open a closed door, and is tall enough to reach the L-shaped handle by simply going on her tiptoes, too. She opens doors, and she closes them when she knows it’s time for you to go. Every morning, Jayne holds her by the open garage door so we could wave goodbye to Allie as we leave for work. “Bye,” Allie would tell us matter-of-factly as she walks to the door, often before we’re even ready to leave. “Bye,” she’d say as we picked up our stuff and exited, and “Bye,” she’d say as she struggles to close the door on me while I’m still putting on my shoes in the garage. Jayne has to keep the door open with her foot and the last thing I see of Allie each morning before leaving for work is her struggling to push the door closed in Jayne’s arms.
Same thing when we come home from work. She’d walk to the gate in the living room and tell Jayne “bye,” even before Jayne has gathered all her things. Jayne would laugh and translate, “Okay, you can leave now, mommy and daddy are home.”
“At least she doesn’t cry when people leave,” Mr. W comforted himself saying yesterday.

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