April 2013

I had told Mr. W last night that my sense of things, the way it would make true sense to me based on the timing and my understanding of Dodo and order, was that Dodo would pass that night. He would not wait until Monday morning’s 9:30a appointment to be put down. He would not want to spend his last days being boarded, away from us and away from a familiar environment, in a cage with veterinary care. This is why he chose Wednesday to stop eating, and Sunday to go truly downhill. Sunday, when everything’s closed and I can’t possibly board him. He also wouldn’t want to hang on until later in the week, when we were gone on vacation, to go when we’d feel helpless and far away from him, and I’d be guilt-stricken at not being by his side, forever wondering if he felt abandoned at that critical time.

Yesterday afternoon after Allie’s nap, I called my parents and told them we were going over there for the weekend visit, instead of having them come here. They were already in their cars about a mile out and they turned around to go home. I left Dodo in peace and quiet, hoping it was what he needed. I’d also long ago removed the baby gate I’d placed to keep Dodo in the restroom/vanity section of our bedroom (at the advice of the vet technician for post-enema “accidents,” but there was none and he’d gone in the litter box as soon as he got home), to allow him free reign. He chose to go back in our walk-in closet across the room, where he’d been most of his time in the past few months. When we got back from my parents’, I checked on him and he had gone to back to the litter box twice and was once again in his favorite spot in the walk-in closet, hanging out as if nothing were wrong. He turned to watch me when I walked in, and I petted him, he purred, lifted his tail in response, and I told him again it was okay for him to do what he needed to do. That I love him. In the evening at his usual medication time, he seemed to be sleeping so I left him alone. College roommie Diana’s advice was that it wasn’t worth waking him for, since if he’s comfortable enough to sleep, he’s probably all right, but that I can medicate him if he wakes up. Soon after, he was awake, so I only gave him the meds to make him comfortable. Anti-nausea med, blood pressure med so he doesn’t feel sick, acid meds so his tummy doesn’t get upset. And I gave him some water by oral syringe as well. Mr. W petted him and I petted him until he put his head down against the dresser, purring. I noticed the tip of his tongue was sticking out a little and his eyes seemed dry; he was probably pretty dehydrated. “Is your tongue out because you’re thirsty?” I asked him.
“No, I think it’s just because he’s that weak,” Mr. W said. I hoped he would have a peaceful easy transition soon. This limbo thing was so awful. He didn’t appear to be in pain, but I wondered if he were uncomfortable, hungry, thirsty. He did turn and change positions a couple times before I went to bed, so he wasn’t so weak he couldn’t adjust himself.

At 6:30 this morning, Mr. W went in the closet to check on him. He came back slightly sniffly-sounding and I asked sleepily, “Is he gone?”
“Yeah,” Mr. W told me.
“Oh, good,” I said, knowing this is exactly when, where, and how Dodo chose to go. He was silent all night, not one sound of struggle, no labored breathing at any point. And then a thought occurred to me. “How do you know?”
“Because he’s cold and stiff.” Mr. W got the towel that had lined Dodo’s carrier. “I’m going to wrap him up in this.” I didn’t watch. I was grateful for the first time ever that my nearsightedness kept me from being able to see much when I wake up in the morning. I had planned to take Dodo to the vet this morning no matter what; Mr. W placed the towel pile with my cat inside into the carrier.
Allie was already up, so Mr. W went and got her, put her in the bed next to me (a new thing we just started doing last weekend for a bit of cuddle time in the morning), and went into massive cleaning mode as Allie and I looked at photos and videos on my cell phone. By the time Allie had finished nursing and was dressed for the day, our room looked as if there were never a cat in it. Cat litter, cat food bowls, cat lounge tree, cat fur, it was all gone. I’m grateful he did all that, because I just didn’t have it in me. Not yet.

Allie looked for Dodo this morning. She went trotting into the walk-in closet as usual, saying, “Dodo?” Not finding him or any trace of him, she leaned down and looked under the dresser, the massage chair, the hanging clothes, calling, “Dodo?” We didn’t tell her anything.

I called the vet as soon as they were open and the girl who was supposed to come over later today to go over Dodo’s meds, as we’d arranged for her to come over twice a day to care for and medicate Dodo while we’re on vacation this week, answered the phone. I told her of Dodo’s passing. She told me about a cremation service that they use if I wanted that option; they would be by later today for pickups. The service, called Peaceful Paws, does individual cremations where they would return the ashes to us in a cedar box for about $150, or they can do a group cremation, and spread the ashes over the sea in San Diego. I had no idea that was an option, and such an affordable one at a little over $50. It makes a difficult transition more beautiful and peaceful, and very affordable, for pet parents.

I never saw Dodo lifeless. Mr. W wouldn’t even let me handle the carrier, even though Dodo was completely wrapped in the towel and not visible through the “windows” and “doors” of it. I asked him again, “Are you sure he’s gone? What if he’s just really really weak?”
Mr. W said firmly, “I’m sure. He’s gone. Do you want details?” There were details? No. Thanks for protecting me from those.

The three of us took Dodo to the vet for the last time. It was weird to be in an exam room with the metal examination table lifted up flush against the wall instead of down so a pet could be placed on it. The girl whom I’d spoken to on the phone took Dodo’s carrier from us to the back room. The female vet, fairly recently back from maternity leave and whom I haven’t seen for a year, but who I really, really like, came in the exam room with Dodo’s chart and gave me a big hug. She said that Dodo’s chart “painted a bleak picture.” He definitely took a drastic dip and lots of values were 4, 5 times higher than normal. His kidneys had failed and he was in renal failure. Even hospitalization may not have saved him at that point. She also believed that he chose his time to go in the way and place that he was most comfortable and felt most safe. We chatted about her new baby (she’s a beautiful glowing mom), partly because she’d taken such a strong interest in Allie a year ago and also because it was a joyous topic and talking about Dodo, she looked near tears and I had cried too much this weekend already. I donated unused renal food and will donate all the remainder of his drugs to the vet’s office to help stock their drug supply and to help out with their patients who may be getting newly diagnosed with kidney disease. It’s expensive to keep your pet healthy as best you can when you’re fighting such an intimidating disease. Plus, I found out Saturday how difficult it is to get anti-nausea meds, and I know for a fact the vet’s office doesn’t have it on hand or they would’ve supplied me with it instead of having me go on the wild goose chase I did for it. Dr. T also confirmed that a 15-year-old purebred Scottish Fold is a rare thing, indeed. “You did very well with him,” she told me.

Dodo’s going to beat us to the San Diego beaches by a couple of days. What a clever little fellow. I’ll be thinking about him a lot when we’re there in the beach house we’d rented for our vacation.

I posted this on the social network, and was so touched by the sheer number of responses and love, prayers, comforting words, cyber hugs.

“Cindy’s Dodo boy passed in the middle of the night last night, quietly, peacefully, with never a struggle or labored breathing. Even in his weakness, he managed to make it to the litter box anytime he needed to go, so for the people who told me to restrict his allowed areas & sacrifice his comfort for the sake of our carpets & pen him into the restroom area when he got kidney disease*, u were wrong. Dodo was a great soul to the end. Thank u for being a consistent loving presence thru all my major joys, heartaches, challenges & progressions the last 13 years. Mommy will see u again. Fly, my Dodo bird, fly.”

* i.e., that nanny Laura we’d tried out for 2 days

I’m not asking him to stay. That would be cruel. If he wants to go, I want him to be able to move on peacefully, easily. It hit me watching him struggle from underneath the bed to his carrier a few feet away, staggering, struggling as his back legs bent in effort to support his weight. Stumbling. He’s so weak. The appetite stimulants aren’t working because he is choosing not to eat. He’s trying to go. I force-fed him a few morsels along with his medication this morning, which caused him to lick at the gravy on the wet food, and gave me hope. But seeing how weak he is in that short walk told me everything. I will not give him any more medication designed to make him do stuff he doesn’t want to do. I will only administer the ones that make him more comfortable. Anti-nausea meds, blood pressure meds so he doesn’t get a headache. I petted him with the top of the cat carrier open for awhile, and he struggled out, gave some short yowls, went to his water bowl, sniffed but went back in the carrier. He did this twice, then the third time, he went out and struggled to the walk-in closet across the room, his usual sleeping spot. Thinking he wanted to be alone, I left him be. I had already told him it’s okay, that I love him, and he should do what he needs to do. That was when Rebecca returned my call. She asked if he’s laying on his side stretched out; he was. She said gently, “You know he has to go, right, sweetie?” I know. I just wanted to know if he wants me to do anything for him. Anything. She said just to go in the closet, lay with him a bit, tell him it’s okay and then when I feel ready, to give him some space. Cats do that, she said. Cats want to be alone at the end, and it could be that my being there is keeping him from being able to let go. So when I’ve said my goodbyes and when I have gotten what I need, I can walk away and he’ll be okay. He’s not suffering right now, altho he had in the past. I know; he’s not struggling except when he’s trying to walk and he’s weak. He’s not panting, not complaining, not heaving. He purrs when I pet him. His tail moves up in response to the strokes down his back. He’s just so weak, and doesn’t want to eat. Twice today, I’ve given him water by oral syringe, just in case he felt thirsty. But I also don’t want him to feel compelled to struggle back out and get in the litter box, which is what he’s been doing instead of having “accidents.” He’s such a good cat. It’s not really about me and getting what I want. My needs are his needs; if he needs me to say it’s okay to go and know that I love him and then leave him alone, that is what I will do. That is what I did. I went in the closet, stayed with him for a bit, petting him, stroking my face against his fur, listening to the light purr, told him it’s okay, it’s okay, mama loves you, mama loves her boy, do what you need to do, don’t suffer. Rebecca said that everything is shutting down, but he may be having a little bit of a hard time letting go, and may need help. If he’s still around like this tomorrow morning for the 9:30a appointment, the appointment may be what’s going to help him go.

What timing, Dodo. We’re at the beginning of our vacation, so I have all day to spend with him on Monday. And right now, there’s no vet available on a Sunday. He may pass peacefully at home, comfortably, if he is able to let go. I got my chance for a private, affectionate, teary goodbye with Mr. W gone for a long 2-hour massage and Allie napping, the stepkidlet out and about as usual. I told him it’s not goodbye. It’s a see-you-later. He can visit, and then I’ll see him again when I go to the Other Side; he’s just getting there first. My fuzzy boy, my furry baby.

While I was running around between CVS, Sav-On, and Walgreen drug stores for Dodo’s prescription earlier today, I came across a flyer entitled “How to Raise a Healthy Eater.” I took a copy with me and showed it to Mr. W when I got home. It talks about how the toddler is responsible for how much is eaten and whether to eat at all, but the parents are responsible for selecting and presenting quality food to the kid, and for timing the meals and cultivating the standard of mealtime behavior so the kid will eat well and properly. There were also 5 tips on raising a good, healthy eater and how to “prevent the ‘picky eaters’ or worse yet, an overweight child.” I read the 5 tips and their explanatory paragraphs to Mr. W:
1. Don’t be a Short Order Cook
2. Plan for Regular Meals and Snacks
3. Limit Juice and Milk
4. Don’t Bribe with Food
5. Get Kids Involved in the Kitchen.
Allie took the page and did what she always does with paper: wad it up to listen to it crinkle. “Here’s what she thinks of your healthy eating paper,” Mr. W said smugly. I pretty much do what the flyer says already, with exception to the last one because she’s too young to be very involved in the kitchen, altho Mr. W frequently lets Allie handle a fruit in its natural form and then opens, dices, chops, slices it up in front of her so she knows what she’s eating and where it comes from.

So earlier, I was making chicken-n-dumplings from scratch and while the whole chicken was boiling and I was chopping onions and prepping the wheat and white flours for the dumplings, I sent Mr. W and Allie out to the grocery store across the street for celery and carrots. It also gave them something to do. When Mr. W came back, he confessed that since I wasn’t around, he tried to “sneak Allie some frozen yogurt.” They went to Golden Spoon next to the grocery store, and after the first spoonful he fed to Allie, she frowned, shook her head and refused to take any more. HA! Take that for trying to corrupt my little healthy eater!
Then they walked into the grocery store, and Allie spotted the carrots. She pointed excitedly at them and was very happy when Mr. W grabbed a bunch of carrots and put them in their cart. Next, he bagged two bunches of celery. He told me that Allie insisted on holding them, and hugged the bagged stalks lovingly in her arms while she sat in the grocery cart, holding them like a dolly to her body until they left the store. He handed Allie, who was standing next to him in the kitchen while he was telling me this story, the bag of celery. She opened her arms, held the celery to her chest in the same way I may hold HER, and stood there solemnly.

That’s my girl.

Dodo’s taken a turn. He hasn’t really eaten since Wednesday, which is the last time I filled his food bowl. Normally, I wash and refill his water bowl and replenish his food bowl every morning. Sometime I’d even have to do a small refill in the evening on the dry food just so he has enough in there until the morning. Wednesday evening, his food bowl was still full. Thursday morning, Friday morning, same thing. The water bowl hasn’t dipped much, either, but there was more a dent in that than in the food. On Thursday, I gave him some regular canned wet food that I’d stopped giving him due to his kidney disease requiring him to be on a special low-protein diet. He somewhat eagerly licked off the gravy, but ate very little of the morsels themselves. What he did lick up, he threw up later. Friday, same thing. This morning, I called the vet and brought him in. (Meanwhile, Mr. W took Allie and the stepkidlet hiking.)

He’s lost a lot of weight since February’s weigh-in, but I suspect he weight was mostly lost this week. My formerly robust 14-pound cat, whose weight has been steadily dropping, is now only 5.9 pounds. He’s all fur and bones. A new-to-us vet was on duty, and she made a few suggestions of things we could do on this visit. I authorized her to do them all. Dodo had an enema to clear out his intestines (he hadn’t had a bowel movement since prior to Wednesday and was already constipated as a symptom of his kidney disease, so he’d have a hard time if we didn’t help), blood work to see what his kidney values are, extra fluids injected subcutaneously to help alleviate his dehydration, an appetite stimulant pill administered, and a prescription for anti-nausea meds. Upon being returned to his carrier, Dodo promptly threw up a lot of liquid yellow bile, so the vet technician readministered the appetite stimulant pill. I made a follow-up appointment for Monday morning and went home.

I did as the vet tech recommended, and fenced Dodo in with the baby gate in just the tiled section of our bathroom, because the enema could cause him to release his bowels at any time from then to an hour from then. I opened the door of the carrier and Dodo strolled out, went straight to the litter box, and the enema did its job. I still kept him fenced in, and left the carrier in there with the door open so he could have a soft private place to rest (the carrier is lined with a folded bath towel). I then went out to fill his anti-nausea prescription, which I was told to administer half an hour before laying out food for him so that it’d already be in his system when the appetite stimulant kicked in and he started eating, so he wouldn’t throw up everything he ate. I went to 3 different pharmacy chains before I found one that had it in stock, and the one that had it was down to their last 15 mL, which is what I needed. Mr. W and the kids even beat me home. I went to check on Dodo right away, and he was resting in his cat carrier. The food still looked untouched, although he did take a few licks of his water. He had enough fluids in his system to pee twice in his litter box, but still didn’t eat either the fresh wet or dry food. I had dumped out the old dry and put in just a few tablespoons of new dry so I’d know if he ate some. At least he didn’t throw up again.

Tonight, he again licked most of the gravy off the wet food without eating the morsels, and I increased the dose of the appetite stimulant. The instructions were to give him a quarter to a half a pill as needed, and I gave him half. It was the first time I’d given him a pill successfully. Okay, I’d never tried. It was a struggle to get him to open his mouth wide enough that I could drop the pill in. I basically had to wrestle it into his mouth and then hold his head up with his jaw closed until I saw him swallow. His medication cocktails are getting pretty crazy. Mornings, he gets 1 mL mineral oil to help his constipation, 1 mL potassium, .3 mL amlodipine for his high blood pressure (also a symptom of his kidney disease), .25 mL fantomidine (Pepcid) for his excessive stomach acid, and now .5 mL of the anti-nausea med and a pill for the appetite stimulant. Evenings, same thing minus the mineral oil. My poor little baby cat.

He was so miserable at the vet today that he stood on the metal table and tucked his face into the crook of my arm against my chest. He’s not usually that kind of affectionate; he liked attention and he liked being petted, but didn’t like being up on people. He let me put my arm around him today while we waited, his face hidden against me. I hope he feels better soon. The vet said that the anti-nausea med is a regular medicine cabinet item for owners of pets with kidney disease; they use it as needed when they see that their pet has been unusually vomity in the past couple of days. She said our goal is to get him over this hump, whatever this is, and get him back to eating well and hydrating well, by using meds to control he symptoms. So crazy. Each of a bunch of natural body mechanisms that a living creature is supposed to have on auto-pilot is starting to malfunction so we’re taking each function in hand and artificially recreating it with pharmaceuticals. But there’s no cure for the actual problem, i.e. fixing his kidneys. 🙁 Kidneys can’t filter properly to keep potassium in the body? Dose him with extra potassium. Kidneys having problems regulating outgoing fluid? Sub-q fluid injection and mineral oil so the overly dry poop passes more easily. And so on.

It’s an odd feeling when one of your babies is doing so well and the other is taking a dip downhill. It’s like my heart doesn’t know whether to be rejoicing or breaking.

Allie’s mental development is growing by leaps and bounds.
She peed in her potty last night for the first time as she was about to get in her bath, Mr. W gave her a loud ovation which startled her into stopping her stream, but then he quieted down, encouraged her to continue, and she did.
She loves her bubble baths and would point upstairs in the evening after dinner, say, “Bubble bath” (which sounds more like “Bubble? Baa?”), and want to go upstairs to take her bath before bed.
Earlier in the week, we went to the grocery store and put her in a plastic kid car attached to the front of the shopping cart, which she loves to ride in because it has two steering wheels and she navigates them both. On the way back to the car, Mr. W made a sharp right turn with the cart which caused Allie to bang her cheek against the inside of the car. She instantly started wailing, and when I asked her, “What happened?”, she replied, “Dada. Dada. BOOM!”
This morning, her daddy dressed her in a bright yellow shirt and blue pants. When asked what color her shirt is, she said, “Yellow.” When asked what color her pants are, she said, “Boo.”
Also cute: she’s learned to say “no,” pronounced “nyo.” She doesn’t do it in an tantrum-y way, but more to let us know what she doesn’t want. “Want some water?” “No,” she would respond, shaking her head.
She also likes to stop when she’s close to our face to point out facial features. She’s touch her index finger to each part, naming them. “Eye. No (nose). Nock (neck). Ear. Teef (teeth).” There are some features she knows but can’t say, yet, but she would point them out on us and then point to the corresponding part on herself to show that she has it, too. Hair, eyebrow, mouth, tongue. And belly button. She knows “butt,” though. “Buh buh!” Point.
The temper’s calmed down dramatically, possibly because she’s getting better at communicating so there’s less frustration for her. Not that she doesn’t still give the big frown and the angry “Uggghhh-huh-huh-huh!” when she has asked for something like “Momo” repeatedly and we don’t allow her to watch more Elmo videos.
Speaking of videos, I’m constantly surprised what she recognizes in them. She’d name her sister, mama, dada, Elmo, kids (“baby”), bubbles, birds, bikes, balloons, mau-mau (cat), dog, everything she has words for.
I also enjoy Allie’s feedback when something tastes good. “Mmmmm!” she’d say, stuffing it in her mouth. Today she “mmm”ed at edamame (“mommy?”), spinach and cheese ravioli, and loquats.
She’s affectionate, playful, goofy, really a joy to be around.

Baby-boo is 17 months old today!

This reminds me…I gotta make an 18-month appointment for her. She hasn’t been to the pediatrician for awhile as the well-visits stretch farther and farther apart with older babies, so I don’t have any stats. I do know that in the last month, she went through yet another growth spurt, and I’d had to pack up all her clothes smaller than 18 month sized and send it on to the next baby girl behind her (Michelle & Eddie’s daughter Scarlett, who just recently turned 1). I think she’s outgrown her size 4/5 shoes, too, and is now in 5/6.

For whatever reason, Mr. W is now all video-friendly with her. She watches herself on videos, Disney movies’ song snippets from the movies (“Bubble! Bubble!” she’d point out excitedly when she watches the “Under the Sea” song in The Little Mermaid), and Sesame Street song videos. Even though Mickey/Minnie was her first recognized character (I think she thinks they’re the same creature in different costumes, as they’re both “Mimi” to her), Elmo was a close second and her current favorite. She’d see him across the room and say, “Momo?” #3 coming in the past week is Winnie the Pooh (“Boo!”). Her two favorite music videos are Sesame Street’s Ernie and Elmo singing “Sing After Me” (I think that’s the song’s name) and Pooh singing “Up Down and Touch the Ground.” She now goes around all day singing “feedo…deedo…” and will lay/stand in her crib dancing and singing before finally laying down to sleep at night.
When she sees Pooh in her room decor, or randomly thinks of it, she’ll say “Boo?”
Sometimes I’m not sure what she’s referring to so I’ll ask, “What? Book?”
And she’ll clarify by putting both arms in the air and bringing them back down, just like Pooh, and say, “Up down.”
If we sing just a word of two from either song, she’d identify the character.
Me: “Sing dye dye dye.”
Allie: “Dye dye dye! Momo.” And she’ll snicker in that “kkk kkk kkk” way of Ernie’s (who does that half-way into the song).
Me: “Doe doe doe.”
Allie: “Doe doe!”
Me: “Up, down, touch the ground…”
Allie: “Boo!” *flapping arms up and down* “Up, down.”

She’s got new words all the time and tries to tell stories. Jayne had told us yesterday that while at the park, a big bulldog came running up out of nowhere and knocked Allie over. Because we’d known about it already, when Allie said to us in the evening, “Doggy. Doggy. Boom!” we knew what she was telling us.

Her favorite foods right now are beets, carrots, oranges, and new single fruits. She went nuts over loquats yesterday. She’s still more interested in single foods than in mixed things like when I make a one-pot wonder. She’ll eat it, but she’d rather eat asparagus or cauliflower by itself. Oh, and ice. She loves crushed ice and with a little bowl of it, she’ll happily crunch until, as she points out, the bowl holds only “wa-wa” instead of “ice.” When she finds a big piece of ice, she’ll say “Beeg!” and stuff it in her mouth.

She looooves sand and rocks. The zen garden at the front of the house has become her sandbox, complete with her rakes and shovels now part of the scenery. She’ll squat over and play with the rocks lining the front edge of our yard for as long as we let her.

Still loves other kids. Will walk up to strange kids and play. (Still calls them “baby,” too.) Still silent around strange adults. She’ll stare at a stranger but if they stare back, she’ll look over their shoulder and refuse to make eye contact. Until she warms up, of course, which happens faster in her own environment, and then she’ll dig out all her current favorite toys to show the new person.

We’ve got her sitting on her potty periodically, which she’ll tolerate, but nothing’s happened in it, yet.

She’s supposed to be going through a normal predictable long (as in, 6 weeks) fussy period pursuant to Wonder Weeks right now, with tantrums and major resistance as she realizes she should have a say as to what to do with her own body parts and where to go. She had tantrums for about a week when we “forced her” to get her diaper changed, “refused her” requests to play with the remote controls or computer components, “forbade her” to go to sections of the house unsupervised by closing the safety gate leading to those areas. Whines, tears, flailing, hitting the nearest wall, banging her forehead on the ground, and everything. We would just sit calmly and not give in. After a week, seeing she doesn’t get her way that way, she stopped it and now sings through her diaper changes, altho she’d still be unhappy with us when we wouldn’t let her take the mouse or remote control, or watch a ton of videos just because she’s pointing to the computer monitor or iPad and saying, “Momo?”

Her hair’s coming in a rather light shade of ash brown. Surprisingly light. I’m seeing less and less genetic input from me; maybe her eyes will turn blue next month. The explosive tantrums are definitely her dad’s. Ha.

Schedule-wise, Allie wakes up on her own at about 6:30a, and if she’s not up already, on weekdays Mr. W wakes her up between 6:25a-6:30a. She gets her diaper changed, nurses, gets her teeth brushed, then goes downstairs to wait for Jayne. (Sometimes Jayne comes when Allie’s still nursing, and hearing the door, Allie will pull away and say, “Jing?”) Jayne makes her breakfast of usually eggs/omelet, some fruit and/or cereal and whole milk around 8:30a, picks out her clothes for the day according to the weather. Then they go to the park and come back around 11a. (On a weekend, I give her a light snack like fruit/yogurt/cheese and milk around 10:15a, but Jayne doesn’t do mid-morning snacks cuz she does a more substantial breakfast.) Allie has lunch at about 11:30a, then takes her nap at noon. I’m starting to think that nap duration depends how tired she is, so she’ll sleep between 90 minutes and almost 3 hours. Then she has an afternoon snack, they go play somewhere or draw with crayons, and we get home around 5pm. We feed Allie dinner around 5:15p, she plays and/or takes a bath, then it’s bedtime routine around 6:30p. She is read a story (which she still has trouble sitting through) or given an interactive story/video/educational game on iPad, then she’s changed into her jammies, gets her teeth brushed, nurses, and is usually in her crib between 7-7:15p. Once she’s in her crib, it’s immediate lights-out until morning when Mr. W gets her to start her day.

Just for kicks, here’s a 2-minute video of Allie meeting Elmo for the first time in person on Saturday. Mr. W decided to surprise Allie with an Elmo puppet, and set it up on the stairway landing while Allie napped.

My daily caloric expenditure is at probably the lowest it’s been since before I gave birth, now that Allie’s down to a few minutes’ worth of nursing mornings after she gets out of bed and nights before she goes to bed. I can no longer eat with the carefree attitude I did when I was nursing/pumping full-time, when I paid attention to the quality of calories, but not much to the quantity, knowing it was mostly coming out in the form of milk anyway. So of course, the weight’s coming back on. Granted, the all-time low I was in during my PPD days could not be sustained cuz it just wasn’t healthy to get to that weight by wasting away. I think the lowest I’d been was something like 114 lbs. Now I’m easily in my 120s, but I’m not sure what the exact weight is because every scale at home is out of batteries. All I know is that I’m jiggly about the lower abdomen and general stomach area, pants are tight around the thighs, and looking at myself grosses me out. I actually go to the gym whenever I’m able, but it’s inconsistent as my perma-lunch-date is still into eating as opposed to gymming at lunchtime. But whenever he’s unavailable for lunch, I am always, always at the gym. I also run a hilly 4.3 miles a few times a week. Nevertheless, the weight is crawling on, driving the measurements up. I’m pretty unhappy. It’s starting to feel like back in the old days when I could not figure out why no matter what it seemed I did, no matter how well I ate, I just kept gaining weight. (It caused me to check into my thyroids, and test results came back borderline hypothyroidism, which means I couldn’t be medicated for it since I wasn’t fully in the hypothyroidism range.) I thought I’d found the roots to that problem years ago by cutting out fast foods, sodas, and most processed foods, because after that, with or without strenuous gymming, my weight was pretty much stable in the low-mid 120s. Maybe the pregnancy screwed with my body’s equilibrium.

Anyway, I am now getting some help with two related apps on my smartphone. The first is one I’ve used before, called Cardiotrainer (free). It tracks, graphs, maps my exercise, and keeps me motivated by putting a little badge for weekly calories burned right on my status bar. The badge color changes each “level” up I achieve that week. Just yesterday, I downloaded a corresponding app that integrates exercise with diet/nutrition, called Noom Weight Loss. Noom takes into account your goals and lifestyle, then recommends for you a breakdown of what types of food to eat each day, how many calories a day, and how much exercise to do/calories to burn a day to get to your goal. It’s easy to use, very visual, and educational. I’ve learned by just using their food log that I have NOT been eating properly. I haven’t put a ton of thought into what I eat lately; I’ve gotten lazy and just had 2 categories in my head of “good” and “bad” food. My lunch today, for example, I would’ve thought was so good for me it was excellent. I had rare Cajun ahi tuna, a side salad (instead of chowder), and grilled veggies (instead of fries). I also had an unsweetened latte and a piece of sourdough bread. I knew those were the “extras” but it wasn’t like I put sugar on them.
According to Noom, I should be eating a proportion of 50% “green” category foods, 35% of “yellow” category foods, and 15% “red” category foods. Foods dense in nutrition with a lot of bulk to fill up the tank are color-coded green; foods still somewhat healthy but less nutrient-dense are yellow; red foods are the fats and things that may be somewhat necessary, but not in hefty quantities. What did my lunch score? The red category was all right, but the quantities in the yellow and green groups are flip-flopped. I was shocked.
Green: side salad (barely registered, since apparently it’s mostly air), grilled carrots, zucchini, broccoli, cauliflower. That’s it.
Yellow: sourdough bread, the 2% milk in my latte, AND the tuna. Even tho it’s not fried in oil. (Fried or battered fish would’ve popped it into the “red” category.)
Red: the blue cheese dressing, bit of butter used on my bread and the butter or oil used in the veggie grilling.
I tried to adjust for dinner and had brown rice and quinoa “stir-fried,” oil-free, with carrots, green onions, and lean beef, a cup of unsweetened soy milk, and some strawberries. That ended up surprising me again, with only the beef in the red group and everything else in the green, so I ended up with no yellow. =P Overall, the day sort of balanced out.

The other thing that surprised me is what Noom’s built-in pedometer revealed. Doctors recommend that each person walk 10,000 steps a day, which I’d heard of. The pedometer also set that as my daily goal. Okay, my job’s pretty sedentary, but I did walk more than normal today up and down and around San Clemente Pier/beach after I had lunch there*, while waiting for Mr. W’s “emergency” root canal to be done at a nearby specialist’s office. (Yes, we had to take the afternoon off work for that, since we’d carpooled when he’d decided he was in so much pain he had to call for an urgent appointment. But that’s what happens when you wait 2 decades before seeing a dentist.) By the time I got home, it pedometer shows approximately 3500 steps walked. Since 10K is a number recommended for the average American, and the average American isn’t very active, I figure I’ll just make it to 10K steps by just running a mile or so. I’d already run over 4 miles yesterday and I don’t like to run every day, since I know running is tough on joints. But I’m game for a short, leisurely 10 minute mile-long run. I set off, keeping an eye on the pedometer. Half an hour and 2.8 friggin’ miles later, I gave up at approximately 7500 steps. If almost 3 miles is only 4000 steps, then 10K steps is 7-8 miles! The doctors want EACH AMERICAN to walk 7-8 MILES per DAY? Who has time for that?! If people walked 7-8 miles a DAY, then of COURSE there would be no obesity problem in this country. Geesh!
I’ll try again tomorrow. =P

Noom has a really cute widget called “Bikini” which works off a point system with Noom activities. You get points for “showing up” every day, logging in your meals, extra points for jobs well-done, exercise done, etc. The widget appears as a one-piece swimsuit on a clothes hanger as your icon, and as you earn more points and presumably get healthier and more fit, the swimsuit (from my understanding) gets smaller and smaller to figuratively show off your new bod, until it becomes a tiny bikini. When you’ve reached the point goal, supposedly some “surprise” happens. That’s a great motivation for us curious people. I’ve created an extra page on my smart phone for just this fitness stuff:

* Here are some pics of my Monday afternoon after I had to leave jury selection in a long civil personal injury trial (a train conductor suing the train corporation for injuries sustained on her fall while on the job).
Some guy insisted on taking this photo for me when he was walking by and saw me messing with my cameraphone. The woman he was with did not wait for him and walked on. I don’t think she much appreciated his being nice to me.

Don’t you love how guys always shoot from their level down so the woman always looks like she has a giant head and tiny feet? A woman would’ve shot from straight across.
I had some time after I got back to the car so I did some reading from this bench, with this view.

Sigh. I WILL get a proportionately smaller waistline back. I will.

I had looked for this gem awhile before finally giving up. The other day, I happened upon it by total chance. This is an email exchange.

From a building supervisor:

>>> Myrna 4/9/2008 2:54 pm >>>
April 22, 2008 is “TAKE OUR DAUGHTERS AND SON’S TO WORK DAY”. I will be
coordinating that day’s events. If you are interested in bringing a child
that day you must fill out the attached enrollment form (one for each child
you will be bringing) and turn it in to me no later than Thursday, April 17,
2008. Please read the attached memo, as it gives information regarding
the ages of the children that may participate.

The fee this year per child will be $4.00. The $4.00 fee includes morning
and afternoon snacks and drinks for each child participating. It will be up
to each sponsor to provide lunch for the child or children they will be
bringing. Lunch will be on your own between the hours of 12 p.m. to 1:30

The children will be in a supervised environment during the hours of 8:00
a.m. to 12:00 p.m., after which they will be released to you. You will need
to check with your individual department manager/supervisor to make
arrangements to have your child/ren stay with you the remainder of the day.

Please share this information with staff that this e-mail may not have
reached. Should you have any questions, please feel free to contact me via

Thank You,
Myrna, Court Services Supervisor
Southeast District Superior Court

I forwarded the above email to my mom and I wrote her this:

Mom, do you have programs like this for your work? How come I was never invited?

My mom’s reply:


We met up with my cousin Jennifer, her hubby Brad, and their little girl Alexandra for dim sum last Saturday morning. I’m pretty sure that the last time we’ve all seen each other was at Alex’s first birthday party 6 months ago, so reacquainting the two little girls was overdue.

While waiting for Jen, Brad and Alex’s arrival at the Irvine Spectrum, we let Allie run around the quad by a Ferris wheel. (We’d agreed to meet in front of Capital Seafood for dim sum, but as it’s the first building nearest the street, Allie kept trying to dart toward the parking structure across the street. Kinda scary.) Allie saw a little boy about her age running around with his daddy and some other guy. She decided to follow him. When he finally saw her, he decided to chase after her, and Allie played coy, turning around and running back across the lawn, the small boy in pursuit. She climbed onto a chair, he climbed up after her, and suddenly, she decided he was in her space. I thought it was cute, though, and asked if the boy’s dad was okay if I took/posted a photo. He said it was fine and that if his wife were there, she’d be taking photos, too. So here’s Allie and Hudson.

Hudson was friendly and even hugged Allie, but she’d apparently already made up her mind.

Turns out Hudson is 18 months so he’s got 2 months on Allie, a month for each inch she has on him. =P This is starting to happen a lot.

Soon, Jennifer, Brad and Alex arrived. The two little cousins were a bit shy with each other, and Alex so shy that she didn’t want to go near Allie and wanted to be carried by her parents. Our fiercely independent girl didn’t push, but she was good running/walking on her own to the restaurant. Both girls ate pretty well, across from each other between their respective parents, and Jennifer was impressed watching Allie gobble up the extra steamed cauliflower and carrots I’d brought along. Dim sum isn’t known for being very veggie-oriented. Alex ate well on her own and can use a fork, and did resist veggies like her parents predicted. Allie ate a lot of the Chinese broccoli we’d ordered for the table. I let her sample everything, but didn’t want her to eat a ton of the sodium- and MSG-laden food. Allie didn’t much miss it.

After brunch, we tried to get the girls play together for a bit.

Alex wouldn’t get close enough for Allie to hug, so Allie hugged the nearest bush, instead.

Yes, I’ve heard jokes about her almost being a tree-hugger. I’ll have you know that while we were waiting for Jen, etc to arrive, Allie did indeed hug a few palm trees in between dancing from one music-blaring wall speaker to another to another.
With her daddy in tow, Alex got a little friendlier.

Here are the two either playing invisible soccer, or doing the kid-n-play.

They even watched a few horses go by.

When we were walking back to our cars, Alex was holding on to Jen’s hand toddling along, and Allie was running along ahead of us. I thought it would be cute to get a photo of us two mommies walking with our little girls, holding their hands, but Jennifer misunderstood me and picked Alex up. I figured a photo with us holding each of our girls is fine, too, so we took that. The girls refused to smile.

And then we moved to do the photo pose I wanted, but Alex got shy again and refused to be put down, so I didn’t get that photo. Oh, well…next time. But meanwhile, Allie decided to play Runway Model and struck a pose.

I was a little surprised at Alex being so shy since she’d been in daycare for most of her life, so I thought she’d be very social. However, her cautiousness may highlight something Mr. W is concerned about — kids in daycare deal with all sorts of little personalities, some overaggressive, and they have to know how to protect themselves. Allie doesn’t know to do that; she’ll walk up to any kid and want to share toys, give them hugs, touch their hand, and for some kids, this is invading their personal space. Mr. W is afraid that in a social setting, Allie may get picked on or pushed or something because she doesn’t know to stay away from other kids until they’re ready for her. I don’t have enough kid experience to know either way, whether it’s a learned protective behavior we’re seeing or just a personality thing. I’m not very concerned at this point. I rather like my friendly secure kid.

Yesterday when we got home after work, I saw that Allie had two little scratches on her cheek. Jayne said that she’d accidentally scratched Allie while she was taking off Allie’s hat, and talked about how heart-breaking it was that Allie had just stared at her in wide-eyed disbelief, then her eyes started welling up with tears. This morning, Jayne brought her teenage daughter Alyssa along to spend part of the morning with Allie (she ADORES Allie and Allie actually would prefer her to Jayne, which would hurt Jayne’s feelings, haha), and told Alyssa the story about the scratch on Allie’s cheek. I didn’t think Allie was paying attention, but she started making a motion against her cheek as if she were scratching it with her nail, then pouted, whimpered, pointed to her cheek and said, “Boo-boo.” This little girl is going to learn to rat people out with her reenactments. And she doesn’t forget things, either. Months ago, she got a scrape on her knee, which is how she started saying the word “boo-boo.” She’d point out her boo-boo, usually when her knees are exposed such as when her diaper’s being changed, and ask that the person she shows it to kiss it all better for her.

Speaking of kissing non-existent boo-boos… I’ve been trying to get Allie to take single bites from larger chunks of food instead of stuffing the entire item into her mouth as she likes to do. Last weekend, I handed her a baby carrot (steamed soft) and stopped her from stuffing it, telling her “One bite, one bite” and holding her hand as she brings the food to her mouth. After a few times of interfering, she got it and would take a bite and a second consecutive bite immediately after. Oh, well, at least the item was being broken up before it ends up in her mouth. She was so eagerly eating her carrots this way that she ended up biting her finger, hard. She cried from the pain, and I kissed her finger for her. And then for dessert, she did it again with the strawberry spears she was eating. I felt bad that I made her hold food and bite down on it and because of that she ended up biting herself twice, but it was also funny. Nevertheless, I kissed her finger for her again. After that, Allie would fake biting her finger (of both hands), then whimper while offering me that finger to kiss. Sometimes the finger doesn’t even touch her teeth. She practically points to the inside of her open mouth and then would pull the finger out with her bottom lip flipped out in a pouty smile, and whimper as she aims the “injured” finger at me to kiss, and then do the same for the finger of the other hand, and then back and forth. I wonder if playing along gives the message that I can be fooled. Oh, well…it’s cute.

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