May 2013

Baby-boo turned 18 months old today! It’s funny how a kid (har) can make you feel like an old goat. (har har)
We (hubby, stepkidlet, stepkidlet’s boyfriend, me and Allie) celebrated with a healthy dessert at Bowl of Heaven.

Allie enjoyed a Popeye bowl, which is a frozen fruit puree made from a blend of acai, banana, strawberry, blueberry, pineapple, fresh kale, fresh spinach, apple juice, superfruit blend, topped with bananas, honey & granola. She easily ate half. I ate the other half.

Here’s some quickie bullet info about her this month. I’ll have medical stats in a week for her 18-month well-baby appointment.

* Earth’s Best Organic Mini Waffles (maybe it’s because Elmo’s on the cover of the box. She’ll ask for “waffle” repeatedly until we either give it to her, or she cries in frustration.)
* Plum Tots Fiddlesticks (“feedle,” she’ll sing-song, in much the same sequence as she asks for waffles)
* flossing (found some kids’ flossers at the store, bought a package, now she wants to floss mornings and nights, and we had to cut her back to nights only. she’ll even do it herself after the teeth are brushed.)
* cheese (“jeez” and sometimes “peez”, which may have also been “please”)
* watching videos (we limit her to short clips of Sesame Street music, Disney music, or other educational musical stuff)
* climbing (she surprised us last Sunday by making it all the way up a chain ladder on a playground by herself, when she’d never even climbed one rung on her own before then. We have it on video, but video now seems impossible to share on my image hosting site with its current updates.)
* new foods (especially new veggies, or veggies she hasn’t had in awhile, like sweet peas, black olives, garbanzo beans)
* singing (she goes around singing and humming to herself, even after she’s put in her crib. sometimes she sings herself to sleep)

Working On:
* self-feeding with utensils (getting good with the fork “fo” and spoon “boon”)
* colors (her immediate answer anytime she’s asked what color something is, is “boo” [blue]. We make her stop and look at it, and tell her the correct color. If she points out something of her own accord, she’s more likely to say the right color, but when asked, the answer is always “boo.” The other day, Jayne was focusing on “yellow” and kept asking her what color all sorts of yellow things were. “Boo?” “No, yellow.” “Yellow?” “That’s right, yellow.” Later that day, Jayne gave her a bowl of fruit for a snack, and pointed out the blueberries. “No, yellow,” Allie corrected her.)
* 2-word “sentences” (“mama hi,” “swing boom” [I fell down the swing and went boom], “brocky hot” [this broccoli is hot])
* identifying & saying more veggies, animals, shapes, insects, etc.

* miscommunication (she’ll have a mini-fit if we’re not understanding a word she’s saying)
* being vetoed (she wants more video, more more!)
* loss of control (the way to get her to eat more, or get in the car willingly, is to let her do it all herself; she’s all happy and proud when she climbs into her car seat and sits down properly)

* Woken up at 6:30a
* Nurses briefly, gets her teeth brushed, diaper changed, goes downstairs (if weekday, goes to Jayne and says bye-bye to mama and dada and closes the garage door at 7a)
* Breakfast at 8:30a
* Snack at 10:30a (Jayne feeds her a big breakfast and skips the snack)
* Play or parkplay or walk until 11:15a
* Lunch at 11:30a
* Naptime begins approx. 12p, lasts between 90 mins to 3 hours, depending on her needs that day
* Snack after waking from nap and getting diaper changed (she regularly poopies in the 15 mins of alone time she has after she wakes from her nap)
* Playtime until 5:30p (if weekday, mama and dada comes home around then)
* Dinner between 5:30p and 6:30p, depending when her last snack was
* Playtime, bathtime until bedtime
* Bedtime routine starts between 6:30p and 7p, depending on how late her nap went (change diaper and into PJs, brush teeth, floss, says goodnight to dada, closes bedroom door, nurses 10-20 mins)
* Approx 7:15p, in her crib, says bye-bye, night-night to mama, waves, lights out
* Asleep between 7:15a and 8p, depending when she went to bed and how tired she is

Sometimes when I’m on the computer in the living room and it’s dark outside and lit inside, I’d sense motion at the corner of my eyes and look up, out the window. And there Mr. W would stand, in the backyard on his way to the trash cans or coming back from doing something in the yard, having decided to pause by the window and stare in at me with his tongue sticking out and his head tilted sideways, eyes rolled toward his nose. It used to give me heebie jeebies rather than make me laugh, but now that I have a kid, an entirely different reaction is triggered in my head.

Tonight, when Mr. W came inside from having done his staring in the window at me and waving emphatically thing, I sung to him,
“The hubby is a person in my neighborhood,
In my neighborhood,
In my neigh-bor-hood
The hubby is a person in my neighborhood,
When you’re walking down the street
Or when you’re looking out the window
And you see a big old creep
He’s a person that you meet…each…daaaaaaay!”

He went to the cabinet, got out a glass, and poured me a glass of wine. I’m not sure what that’s saying.

I was sitting in the back seat of the car with Allie as usual coming home from Costco earlier, entertaining her and chatting with her, making vroom vroom sounds together imitating the motorcycles that passed by (or rather, that Mr. W, aka Speed Racer, passed), when I forgot what I said or did, but I laughed. Allie laughed with me. And then I stopped laughing, but she kept laughing. I thought, “Boy, I’m really funny.” She kept laughing. “She really has a good time with me.” She was still laughing. I noticed the laugh sounded unnatural, and then her face deadpanned and the corners of her mouth dropped, just like that. It was then that I realized, “HEY, that was a FAKE LAUGH.” I told Mr. W that my baby daughter was fake-laughing at me, and listening to me describe to him what had just happened, Allie fake-laughed again. I whipped out the cameraphone and took a video.

My .mp4 videos aren’t loading correctly on my image hosting site for whatever reason, so those of you who aren’t my social network website friends, sorry, I can’t bring you this video via the blog. 🙁 I can show it to you in person. 🙂

After shooting the aforementioned fake laugh video, which Allie was cooperative in, I turned the cameraphone around and showed her the video. She wanted to watch more videos, so I showed her what I had on the phone in reverse chronological order. The videos were all of Allie — Allie excitedly yelling “Whoa!” at the surfers on the waves at our San Diego vacation last week, Allie “driving” the Elmo car ride at Babies R Us, etc. — and then I got to the last video I shot of Dodo. This sounds morbid, but I have two video clips of him from the day before he passed away. I played the one that shows Dodo taking a slow careful walk from the bathroom area of the bedroom to our walk-in closet across the room, where he settled in his usual resting spot. “Who’s that?” I asked Allie quietly as she watched intently.
She pointed at the ambling black-and-white figure and said, “Dodo.”
“Yeah. That’s Dodo.”
Her eyes didn’t leave the video. “Dodo. Nice. Dodo.”
She remembers that I’d always told her, when she eagerly went into the closet to look for Dodo and reached out to pet him, to “Be nice to Dodo. Gentle.” And she was, mostly, except for a couple of times when her eagerness made her motions a bit more abrupt. Dodo would make a little gurgling sound and back away from her a bit. She loved him and would follow, bridging the physical and emotional space Dodo placed between them by leaning her face into Dodo’s fur. “Soft Dodo, nice Dodo. Be gentle with Dodo.”

We participated in a community garage sale today because Mr. W was eager to get rid of the bulky items since our house has very little storage space. He put out Allie’s rain forest Exersaucer, Pooh activity walker, Dodo’s three-tiered cat tree condo, Dodo’s large carrying case. Also his daily ceramic food and water bowls, and our traveling feeders that auto-dispense a gallon of water and food as needed. They all went. The lady who bought the cat tree ($5), a brand-new wool-lined cozy cat bed thingie ($2), and his cute daily food and water bowls ($.50 each) got them for a cat she was going to babysit for a week as the cat’s owners go on vacation. I thought it was very sweet she wanted to have her own cat things for a visiting cat. Personally, I’m still torn between moving on by passing Dodo’s things on to where they’d be more useful (I’ve already donated his special prescription foods and his leftover meds to the vet for other animals they are treating), and feeling guilty for so unceremoniously getting rid of his personal things as if he never existed. And a feeling of being a shitty mother inevitably and immediately follows the occasional feelings of relief when I’m running late or have a lot of things to do and realize that not having to medicate Dodo at the moment saves me 20 minutes.

In the car on the way to Disneyland on Sunday morning, Allie gave me a smile so big that it revealed her dimples, almost all her teeth, and turned her eyes into little half-moon curls. She looked like an anime character. “That’s so cute!” I exclaimed. “That’s a cute smile! This is such a cute smile!” I continued as I tickled her cheek and she giggled. After that, she developed “the cute smile,” which is her artificial expression she wears on command and shows all her teeth and squints her eyes. Since it’s not a genuine smile but something she does when I say, “Show us your ‘cute smile,’ do your ‘cute smile’ look,” it comes out looking slightly twisted and kind of weird, like this:

Of course we laugh so that encourages her to keep doing this expression. The other expression she learned to do on command at the same time is her “funny eyebrow” thing. “Do your funny eyebrow thing,” I’d tell her, and she’d look me in the eyes all serious, and then lift her eyebrows up and down repeatedly, like “woo woo.” That’s so funny on the face of a toddler. Expressions she already does on command are “the fake pout” which is done simultaneously with a whimper…

and her “serious look,” which we don’t have a photo of cuz it’s just her not smiling and making intense eye contact. As dada missed out on everything driving, we in the back seat went through “Cute smile! Eeee! Funny eyebrow! Hahahaha! Serious. Pout. Hmmmm. Cute smile! Now funny eyebrows! Serious. Pout.”

Later that afternoon, my parents came over and brought a big box of old clothes, hats and puzzles that my cousin is passing down from her 2 daughters, now in elementary school. Actually, I think the older girl is at least in junior high. Most of the things were too big for Allie still, but that didn’t stop her from trying them on.
A girl sometimes has to wear many hats.

Modeling the hat.

While perusing a new book, Grandma Po-po asked to see her “cute smile,” so this is what she presented.

This is what a more natural “cute smile” is supposed to look like.

Grandma Po-Po and Grandpa Gong-Gong were impressed by the somersaults she now does on her own on command.

You can tell when my mom takes photos cuz she makes a point of cutting all adults out of the frame. This is Allie with a genuine “cute smile” expression in yet another new “hat” walking Grandma Po-Po and Grandpa Gong-Gong out after their visit.

Mr. W noted on Sunday night that Allie’s appetite seemed to be returning. My parents were over visiting and we all took a walk to a nearby Baja fish restaurant for early dinner. Allie ate quite a bit of black beans stirred into white rice, grilled whitefish, guacamole, diced tomatoes. And then when we went home, she gobbled up papayas.

Monday, we were all a little nervous as I briefed Jayne on Allie’s recent changes. We’d prepared a bunch of separate veggies and fruits for Allie’s lunch, plus some shredded Kahlua turkey stirred with Mediterranean white rice to place her previous one-pot meal. We left in the morning with Allie happily in Jayne’s arms stuffing her own little face with cut papaya from her little bowl, eagerly closing the door behind me. Jayne had expected Allie to cry to watch us leave her after 2 weeks straight with her.

When we came home, we were greeted with a happy giggling girl who greeted me by pointing at Jayne, saying, “Jean? Jean?”, like “Look who I had all day! Jayne!” And she’d randomly run up to Jayne and hug her leg. It was very cute and I was happy to see that there was no readjustment needed. Jayne had clearly missed her, and said that Allie ate like a bottomless pit AND took almost a 3-hour nap. No issues whatsoever, no tantrums. I was very relieved. Jayne said Allie recognized the broccoli right away and said, “brocky?” unprompted, which surprised me because I hadn’t given her broccoli in months. She did the same thing with peas, just pointed and said “pea” and I can’t even remember the last time I’d given her peas. I’m impressed with her memory.

Today, Jayne’s teenage daughter Alyssa is with them (whom Allie LOVES and who loves Allie and had reportedly said to Jayne, “Mom, you know you have the best job in the WORLD, right?”) so I hope everyone has a lot of fun. Allie again couldn’t shoo me out the door fast enough this morning, practically closing the door before I could squeeze out. 🙂

I have a TON of photos, so just picking a few wasn’t easy. I did it almost haphazardly. Anyway, here we go.

WEDNESDAY: Arrival at our beach house in La Jolla, San Diego, half a block from the beautiful Windansea beaches!

This is a prime location, altho the house is old and the week stay cost us a month’s worth of our mortgage. But it was a nice roomy 3 bedroom house, well-kept and clean. Fully stocked kitchen.
We walked down to Windansea beach (talk about an affluent area) as soon as we settled in. There were lots of big rocks to climb and sit on, and perfect surfing waves.

Allie had a rough time that night settling down in the playard in a foreign room. It was like sleep-training all over again. She nursed fine, was sleepy when I put her in her playard, but as soon as she realized I was leaving, she stood and cried. Her iPad was playing white noise and I closed her bedroom door behind me. She cried for maybe 10 minutes then went to sleep. It was a painful 10 minutes for me. Thank God we had her fuzzy bear in her playard. She curled up on that familiar security item. This protest crying lasted for 2 nights, and 2 naps. After that it was just like at home, where she’ll curl up on her fuzzy blanket for her nap or her fuzzy bear for bedtime and tell me, “Night night,” suck her thumb, and watch me leave.

THURSDAY: The morning started with a visit to…

Allie doesn’t mind the hiking backpack, altho sometimes she’ll want to explore on her own. Then she says, “Ou? Ou?” for “out.” We had her in part of the time and out to burn some energy whenever the area was flat and uncrowded. She saw and pointed out the “mock-nees,” which surprised us because real monkeys don’t look like her cartoon or stuffed monkeys.
Allie: Mama?
Me: Allie?
Allie: *pointing* Mock-nee?
Me: That’s right, monkey!

We also watched polar bears.

Two cats.

Allie played with the baby elephant for a bit, then found herself patting the leg of the big elephant next to the baby elephant. She looked up following the leg, and noticed the adult elephant for the first time. “Beeeeeeeg!” she breathed. Her new expressions of “beeg” vs “leetle” are funny. I was handing her organic baby puffs to eat on the drive (looks like Cheerios) and gave her a crumbled piece about a quarter of a normal piece. She rolled it between her thumb and forefinger and said in a high-pitched voice, amused, “LEEtle!” After that she would ask for “Puff? Puff? Beeg!”
We spent the morning at the zoo, came back to the beach house for her nap, and in the afternoon, walked with her to the beach. “Beace? Beace? Wa-wa. Bubble!” Yes, the beach is where is water and lots of bubbles and foam. She’s never been in the water when the waves were that big, and whimpered at first, so I’d pick her up so she didn’t get swept out to sea.

Allie warmed up to the beach quickly and had fun.

Lots of big rocks to climb and sit on.

A puddle of ocean on a flat rockbed is fun, too.

Catch-and-release sand.

Dada and baby footprints.

That afternoon, the two stepkidlets got there and we all had a quiet evening in. These two are MELL-OW on vacation. No partying, no bar-hopping, they just took a walk to explore the beach when Allie was going to bed and then wanted to watch the Game Show Network the rest of the night after having dinner in the outdoor patio. I’m not complaining, believe me. I’ll be just fine never having to care for another drunken person.

FRIDAY: Back to the zoo in the morning. This annual pass thing comes in handy.

That afternoon, the stepkidlets’ respective significant-others showed up. They worked out their carpool arrangements pretty well so that each couple had a car for their trip back. Allie, meanwhile, had her first dip in a jacuzzi. The verdict? “Wa-wa. Bubble. Hot.”

She stayed in there maybe 15, 20 minutes before asking for “ou? ou?”
The kids all hung out at the house keeping an eye on Allie (thru the babycam) while Mr. W and I went to pick up pizzas for dinner. Seriously, mellowest group of young adults ever. They went for a walk at the beach, came home, watched some TV, hung out in the jacuzzi for a bit, went to bed. The entire house was dark by 11-ish.

SATURDAY: Mr. W and I doubled-dated with the stepdaughter and her boyfriend (plus Allie) and took a walk to breakfast while the stepson and his girlfriend slept in a bit. BTW, the sleeping arrangement the kids (all in their early 20s) worked out between themselves in the largest bedroom with a queen bed and two bunk beds is that the guys took the bunks and the girls took the queen bed. I did not expect that. That’s pretty courteous. After everyone had their breakfasts, we drove over to the Underwater Park area to see the many seals, sea birds, and play in the cove. And I thought it was a scenic enough area to force everyone to take group photos I wanted. Heh heh. Here are Mr. W’s two daughters.

Here’s the group with the horizon tilted cuz Mr. W had to set the camera up on a rock with a timer.

Mr. W’s three kidlets.

In the afternoon, as the kids all prepared to leave, my parents arrived. Stepdaughter helped me change the sheets on the queen bed in the big room. And soon, the kids were off to return to their busy lives at home, and we continued our vacation with a new set of babysitters for Allie. We took my parents to explore the nearby Windansea beaches, too.

Poor baby threw up her lunch this afternoon, and had runny poopies the next day. I think it was from the introduction of all the foreign bacteria in seawater, since she kept sucking the ocean salt off her fingers after she’s done playing at the beaches.

SUNDAY: Sunday morning, we did what my dad and Mr. W had been looking forward to for YEARS. My mom said my dad hasn’t stopped talking about the champagne brunch seafood buffet at Tom Ham’s Lighthouse since we took them there 4 years ago. The place was closed for renovation and only opened up that weekend, and was serving their very first meal THAT brunch. Were we lucky with timing or what?

Allie and my dad had fun exploring the new grounds.

Allie had lots of shrimp, a bite of lobster, and more crab than she’s ever had before.

Since we were the first ones to arrive for their first meal served and had made their first reservations, we were seated at a corner with full panoramic windows around us at 90-degrees. We even caught a live show of some trainers working with their dolphin, teaching it to jump, flip, hug, etc on command. This was probably a dolphin from nearby Sea World.
The weather took a turn that day, however, and started raining. We spent the afternoon visiting an aquarium for something to do. The La Jolla area had virtually no indoor options, Mr. W was unhappy to find out. Even all the malls were outdoor open-air styles. But Allie still had fun looking at fish, petting starfish and playing with “babies.”

She even got up close and personal with a shark encounter.

MONDAY: It rained all morning, but did clear up in the afternoon. We took advantage of the sunshine and drove to the La Jolla rocky cove section again, so that my parents could explore the area. Allie did some rock climbing herself.

She did not want to get off this high perch with the great view of the ocean and the seals sunning on their rock islands.

There were even twisted trees to climb.

What’s twistier, the trees or the grandparents?

Grandpa Gong-gong and Grandma Po-po left this evening. We were finally on our own for a few days. It was eerily quiet.

TUESDAY: The weather was decent all day, so we hit the zoo in the morning again, and in the afternoon after Allie’s nap, we took a long bike ride along the coast, exploring the “trendy,” more “night-life” part of the San Diego beaches, through Pacific Beach Park down to Mission Beach and back. Man, there are a lot of vacation weekly rental properties along the shores. I guess that’s one way to get help paying the $30K monthly mortgage. Here’s Allie at Mission Beach where we let her out to go run around a bit.

When we were dressing her that morning, she said, “Mimi?” That’s her word for Minnie Mouse, and we looked around, but didn’t see any Minnie items in the room.
“Minnie? Do you see Minnie?”
She pointed at her pants. “Mimi?” she said again. Ha. Never knew she noticed Minnie’s attire, but yes, that’s definitely Minnie’s classic color theme.

WEDNESDAY: We packed up and left Wednesday morning. I hadn’t expected to stay the whole week since Mr. W had been wanting to leave once it started raining. Good thing the skies cleared up after a couple of days. Allie woke up so early that morning that she fell asleep for half an hour in the car on the drive back, which is unusual for her. It did mess up her nap routines and bedtime a bit, but overall she still came out fine in the hours of sleep she had. What vacation doesn’t screw up a kid a little, right? She was so cute sleeping, tho.

I rarely get to be next to her when she’s asleep, so I got to study her sleeping form. Made me sleepy, as well.

I feel like Allie hit her terrible 2s sometime last week on vacation. She definitely protests when we want her to do something, go somewhere, not because there’s any reason she doesn’t want to do that thing or go wherever, but because it wasn’t HER idea. If she decides to go where we’re going, or if we offer it to her and she takes us up on it, then it’s fine. This has made a lot of things challenging, because she’ll protest loudly and drop to her knees and raise up her arms when we try to pick her up if she’s not moving.

She also gets frustrated if she’s saying a word that we’re not understanding. She’ll point and say “bru?” and we have to figure out what “bru” is.
“Blue?” She shakes her head, frowning.
“Balloon?” She shakes her head again, her face crumpling. A third wrong guess gets a frustrated shriek out of her and a near-tears wail. She tries hard with the language thing. Sometimes it comes out very clear. “Doctor” is a new favorite word thanks to a Sesame Street musical video about the people in your neighborhood. “A doctor is a person in your neighborhood, in your neighborhood, in your neigh-bor-hooooood…” I sometimes wake up with the song already playing in my head.

The biggest challenge right now is food. In the last week, while we were on vacation, I spent the first day during her naptime chopping and steaming a ton of her favorite veggies. Carrots, edamame, things I can’t even remember anymore. She happily wolfed a lot of the veggies down the first and second days, and then decided she was sick of carrots. She’s refused carrot since. I stopped giving her edamame the rest of the week so she recently started eating them again. She is now refusing all of my one-pot porridge stews, and prefers to eat things separately, especially if it’s what we’re eating, also. She just seems to be over the baby stuff and into the grownup stuff. Anything new, she loves. She’s been wolfing down grapes but seems to be tired of bananas and strawberries. Melons are hit and miss. Grilled fish, she loves (for now). Mediterranean food has been a huge hit and she’ll gobble up the rice (which she says as she eats it) with the seasoned ground chicken and ground beef kabobs. I stir steamed zucchini in there to give her some greens, which she’ll still happily eat. Sometimes the pickiness can be resolved by giving her control, such as simply handing her the spoon or fork. Sometimes she’ll ask for the spoon (“boon?”). Suddenly food she’s been spitting out and refusing to eat when fed to her will be voluntarily shoveled into her own mouth and happily eaten. This is going to be such a challenge, since the pre-made food was so much easier. I make a big pot at one time and freeze squares for her, and in the mornings, we pop a square out and let it thaw for her lunch and for her dinner. I’m not going to be home to cook for her on weekdays so I don’t know what I’m going to do. I can see Jayne going through the whole “I can’t do this, I can’t do this” thing again if Allie is fussy at mealtimes with her. I think variety is good for Allie, tho. We went to Souplantation yesterday and going through the salad bar, we just made her a plate with a scoop of everything. Peas, olives, hard-boiled egg pieces, garbanzo beans, butternut squash bits, etc., popped the plate in front of her, and let her have at it. And she did. Not sure how I’d recreate that at home.

We just came from Disneyland. We decided to bring a lightweight stroller for the first time, and sometimes she’d sit in it, other times when you ask her if she wants to go in the stroller, she’ll shake her head and look like she’s about to cry. So when I was carrying her, I asked if she wanted to walk. She shook her head, whimpering. I asked if she wanted to sit in the stroller. Same response. I asked if she wanted me to hold her. Same response. Putting her down, she refuses to move and yet refuses to be picked up as well. It was like she was always on the verge of crying. In the car on the way home, because she refused to eat the porridge, she finished her edamame and papayas and was still hungry, and kept asking for “waffle.” I didn’t have any of course, so she cried the entire way home. I tried the porridge repeatedly (and it’s good, cornish game hen I stewed with brown rice and chopped carrots, celery, onion, all made from scratch) and even seeing it, smelling it made her cry more. I hope this phase passes quickly. It’s not cute.