November 2013

We put up our tree this morning! Allie helped. She brought ornaments from where Dada was attaching hanging loops to the shatterproof pieces, and told me where on the tree to place them. I made some interpretive liberties when she pointed to mainly the same spot and said, “Right there.” Allie also helped when Dada was on the ladder putting up the tree ribbon and the topper.
“Careful, Dada!,” she said, looking up at him. “I hold Dada’s foot. I so helpful.”

At one point she held both of Dada’s feet, one in each hand. I couldn’t get the camera out quickly enough, but it made me laugh.
Soon, the tree was all done. We used new pastel ornaments to match the pink and pastel glittery tree ribbons which match this year’s topper:

Yup, that’s a real Minnie Mouse doll up there. Here’s a collage of what I call “The Evolution of the Christmas Tree Topper.” It’s all about Allie’s fancy. =P

Allie was really excited to have our own “Christmas in Allie’s house,” since the Christmas displays and lights in stores have been attracting her for months. “I wanna go see Christmas!” she would deplore, pointing at twinkling lawn ornaments and giant prelit trees in Costco. As soon as the tree was done, she wanted me to take a photo of her next to it, sitting on the decorative boxes. We’re doing the same thing this year that we did last year, which is not fence off the tree, but tell her strongly not to touch it. It was difficult impulse control at first and she’d test us again, such as touching a glittery ornament quickly when she thought we were watching, or touching a box with her butt, but after firm repetitive instructions, she got over it. She did have a moment of trying to open as many boxes as she could while Dada was in the garage putting the ladder away, though. The third photo in the below series was taken the exact moment Dada came back in and caught her.

I call the above collage “Evolution of the Sneak Attack on Christmas Boxes.”

After Allie’s nap, we took her to the upscale Fashion Island shopping center to see a “real” Christmas tree. Fashion Island has boasted of having the tallest decorated Christmas tree in the country. I think in recent years, that honor has gone to some similar shopping location on the East Coast. This year, the Fashion Island tree is “only” 90 feet tall, and not even the tallest in the area. (The cost of these trees come out to about $1K a foot, figuring in transportation, decoration, etc.) But first, we made some stops in the usual stuff that attracts Allie and causes her to detour in a beeline. Stuff like…


More fountains!



…and finally, The Tree. Whoaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa…

We did do one more special thing while we were there. We had Allie meet Santa for the first time. Mr. W first placed Allie on his knee, then walked away and told her to look at the camera and smile. She was polite, but sooo uncomfortable. She was on a stranger’s lap, that’s all she knew. She made some wavering smiles, crinkled up her eyes in her generic “photo smile,” but her mouth didn’t quite turn up convincingly. She tentatively reached out for us a couple of times. But she really, really tried to be cooperative. Santa, on the other hand, seemed a little awkward. He didn’t seem particularly interested in kids (I don’t blame him), and he appeared hot (took off his hat to wipe his forehead in between kids) and his smile didn’t reach his eyes. He also wasn’t very interactive with the kids, didn’t talk much to them, and was always very cautious about his hand placement. His hands were closed and he made a point to have them in plain sight at all times. Stupid lawsuits. But anyway, I snapped this one from the side.

After Allie was done, we praised her for being so cooperative given how uncomfortable we knew she was. “I was good,” she commented, happy to have pleased us. It’s good to see that although my kid is fiercely independent and fearless when it comes to running to see something she wants to see (like a fountain) or play with something she wants to get on (like a slide) and isn’t concerned about losing us, that when she’s around a strange adult, she has enough instincts to be uncomfortable.

And then of course, when she came home, there was more Christmas waiting for her.

“Allie forgot!” was the delighted confession when she saw the lit tree after her nap that she’d forgotten was there. (My friend Ramon got on me for not cropping this photo, but that’s how it was taken on my cameraphone and I’m THAT lazy.)

(written 12/3 but time-bombed for the actual day it happened, of 11/29)

Allie slept in until past 8am on Friday morning, which was great because we had a big day planned for her. Mr. W finally got me to agree to let Allie skip her noon nap (first time she’d be missing it since she was down to 1 nap) and take her to “the world-famous…

You might notice that from the above photo, I appear to be in a rain jacket. I am. The last time we took Allie there for our vacation, it had rained most of the week we’d been there and we were drenched one day when we were stuck at the zoo. This time, we checked weather forecasts the day before and the morning of, all of which said it would be clear. But that morning, on the way there, it rained. While we were there, it rained intermittently. Apparently anytime we go to that zoo, it would rain on us. I’m pretty sure I have, or maybe my mom has, a photo of me as a kid standing next to a brass turtle statue at the San Diego Zoo, and in the photo I’m holding an umbrella over my shoulder, which didn’t even register with me until that day, that meant when I was there 30 years ago, it had also rained.

But Allie’s a trooper and the wetness didn’t dampen her ability to have a good time. She’s older now and we allowed her to be more interactive. She got to climb the tree like the koalas in the new Australian Outback section.

She got to explore the life-size replica of a seal den.

And she got to eat popcorn for the first time, as you can see her hand reaching for in the first photo. The verdict on popcorn: “Too salty. *shaking head* But I like it.”

Since we rushed through the zoo, trying to see what we could before the sky opened up again, we managed to get through all the exhibits Mr. W wanted to get to by noon, so we just got back in the car to drive home. Allie had her prepacked lunch in the car, then started complaining that she was “tired” and “sleepy.” We were, however, stuck in traffic. We suggested she take a nap in the car, but she wanted to go home. We got home around 2pm and she did skip that nap. She was in decent spirits, though, and we simply put her to bed earlier than normal, she knocked out right away, and still got over 13 hours of sleep that day. (I’m happy if she gets between 13-14 hours per 24-hour period, since that’s what’s recommended for toddlers her age. I read that most kids only get around 10, though.)

(written 12/3/13 but time-bombed for 11/28)

I’ve been hiding behind the excuse of “I’m Asian, I didn’t grow up with a American Thanksgiving tradition” to skate out of massive cooking, cleaning, guests. I do want to do it when Allie’s older, and have family over, but I don’t want to chase around (or chase away from the hot stove) a toddler right now while trying to get lots of done, and our house is really to small at this point to host anything meaningful. When I was growing up, my parents and relatives, which included family-friends, had used American holidays as an excuse to get together for the family just for dinners, but it was always Chinese food (usually potlock), and that was fine by us. I’d like Allie to have those big gatherings to look forward to.

This year, Thanksgiving was very low-key. My mom didn’t know when my grandmother would be available, but turned out that she was available Thanksgiving morning, so my parents picked her up and came over early. Mr. W and I didn’t prepare anything, since it was also up-in-the-air until fairly last-minute whether my mom was getting the flu (turned out to be seasonal allergies), so we figured we’d just try to get into Claim Jumper Restaurant across the street at their opening time of 11am. My parents and grandma got to our house around 9:30 a.m., and the stepkidlet woke up and joined us in the living room around 10:00 a.m. I think she was expecting a traditional Thanksgiving gathering of some sort, so when we told her we were just going to go across the street at 11am for an early lunch, she was very unhappy with us. She said she didn’t have enough time to get ready, and that since we didn’t tell her early enough, she must not have been invited. She ended up going out with her boyfriend and didn’t return the entire rest of the 4-day holiday weekend. I did go in her room after my parents left, soon after lunch, and apologize for not telling her early enough, and explained that not only did we not plan anything, but that we never know when/if she was going to be around, since she may or may not even come home for arbitrary days in a row. We agreed that I’d let her know about upcoming significant-event plans whenever I had them, even if that meant waking her up early (which I never do) to give her enough time to get ready, and she’ll just decline if she’s already got plans (which she doesn’t tell us about ahead of time, either). That’s the only workaround I could think of for a noncommittal busy young adult.

So here’s a photo of us at Claim Jumper.

After Allie’s nap, the three of us went to a park with a nice kiddie playground and Allie got to play until a bit after the sun set and we could hardly see each other anymore. She was happy and had a great time, and to this day still asks to go to the “new park.”

We still didn’t do a party this year, but did a kind of split celebration of sorts. Mr. W’s parents had driven to SoCal to attend a relative’s wedding the weekend before Allie’s birthday, so they, along with my mother-in-law’s two sisters, spent that Sunday with us. They brought presents, so we got a couple of balloons and invited my parents over for lunch with everyone else. Allie had been asking for a “happu burday cake for Allie” for months leading up to her birthday, so we got a storebought purple one that made her happy. It was taro cake (from a Chinese bakery) so that made us happy since it’s not overly sweet, but we didn’t tell any of his family members what it was until after they’d eaten it. Mr. W lied and said it was a purple “fruit cake” even tho they immediately knew it was something different. His saying it was “chocolate” wasn’t believable, either. My parents loved it. Allie…not so much. She ate maybe 4 bites before wrinkling her brow and saying, “Too sweet. Cake too sweet.” Then she just played with the whipped cream frosting with her fingertips and picked out the fruit and ate that.

Her actual birthday on Saturday started as any other Saturday…with dance class. She’s in a new term and got promoted to the age 2.5-3.5 toddler ballet and dance class, where she goes into the dance room on her own without parents participating in there. Allie’s never been a clingy kid, so even the first class, she did great without me and could follow the teacher’s directions. She did look at me and Mr. W regularly through the big parent-observation windows and smile at us. There are a couple of other kids in the class, also promoted from Allie’s last class, who cried unless their moms were in the class, so the moms just sat at the back of the classroom (without participating) so the girls wouldn’t cry. However, the girls would always run back to their mothers’ laps instead of staying in formation in the circle or line in between dances. I’m curious how the bonds between mother and child in those relationships may or may not differ from more “elastic” bonds like the one Allie and I have when the kids become teenagers and adults. It’s almost worth keeping in touch with these moms just to satiate that curiosity later on. Anyway, Allie is once again the youngest girl in her class, and the tallest. Tap is cute on these toddlers. The shoes with their metal bottoms are slippery, and Mr. W likened their tap-dancing (15 mins at the end of each class) to Bambi(s) sliding on the frozen pond.

After dance class, we drove directly to my parents’ house with an extra large playyard that we used in Dallas in tow. Allie got to play with my parents and great-grandma, then I put her down in my old bedroom for a nap. It took her an hour to fall asleep. She just played on her own (even tho there was nothing but her fuzzy blanket she always naps on) in the playyard, talking, singing, until she finally decided she was going to drop after 1:15p (her naps are usually noon-ish), but when she did, she stayed down 90 mins. On the short end for her, but pretty decent. Mr. W and my grandma napped, too. I chatted with my parents, drank tea, and made this collage.

After Allie woke up, we went to a park/playground across the street. My cousin Olivia and her daughters, now a ‘tween and a teen, came to visit as well, bringing Allie some presents. We all played at the park together.

Soon afterwards, Olivia and the girls left, and Vicky and her stepdaughter came over and brought presents as well. That was a cool visit. The stepdaughter was only 13, but was SO amazing with Allie. Turned out she has a 7 year-old half-sister at her mom’s house. That explains it. She was so much better with Allie than I ever was with kids Allie’s age. I just didn’t know what to do with kids, so I interacted with him as little as possible, not that there were many babies around me when I was a kid.

Allie got another cake from my mom, this time sweet potato. That’s a first for me. Allie again, after 4-5 bites, refused more and frowned, “Cake too sweet.” She knows how to make her mama proud. 😀

On the drive home from my parents’ that evening, Allie asked to hold the big Hello Kitty that Olivia and her girls got her. She hugged it the drive home. As I drove, I heard her chatter. “Hello Kitty! Hello, Hello Kitty! Dada open Hello Kitty! Allie wanna hold Hello Kitty! Hello Kitty, are you okay? Hello Kitty so putty! Uh-oh, Hello Kitty went pee-pee. Hello Kitty went pee-pee on her butt. Are you okay, Hello Kitty? Hello Kitty so soft!”

Allie’s 2-year well-baby checkup is next week, because work has been so crazy about time off and won’t give it easily. I was told by our new supervisor that I can’t request time off until the first week of December, so I’ll have stats by then. Meanwhile, here are some behavioral thingies…
Stuff she knows:
* her shapes (circle, triangle, square, rectangle, heart, star, dodecahedron…just kidding on the last one)
* reciting her ABCs, skipping E, H, I, J, K.
* reciting her numbers 1-10 in English, skipping 6, and 1-10 in Mandarin.
* her fruits, veggies, animals, even some insects

Stuff she likes to do:
* stack up blocks, wooden shapes from sorter kits, cubed fruits/veggies in a tower
* play toddler games and “color” on her iPad
* watch videos of herself and Disney/Sesame Street clips
* jump off things or hop forward in lieu of walk
* give a running commentary of things around her, and of things that she saw or had happened recently
* opine on things she should be eating for meals and snacks
* help move clothes from washer to dryer, help unload the dishwasher, help throw things in the trash, help put things back where they belong, help close open doors/cabinets, help sweep
* make jokes and then say, “That’s funny!” while laughing
* spin herself or me in the swivel office chair
* play on kiddie playgrounds
* play pretend in her kitchen and with her toys (and accuse us of playing “pretend” when we just go thru the motions of doing something to appease her without actually doing it, such as dipping bread into oil/vinegar before giving it to her)
* guess who anyone is talking to on the phone (she’s almost always right)

She’s still generally a happy kid, albeit more willful, especially on what to wear and what to eat. She may love a food, but won’t eat it simply because it wasn’t her idea and she wasn’t given a choice on the matter. We can usually entice her to eat it by saying, “You don’t want this? Then I’m gonna give it to Dada.” “Nooo! That’s MINE! I wanna eat it!” Emotions are developing. When she wants something, she wants it BADLY and is VERY VERY sad or angry when she doesn’t get it…for a minute. With emotions and awareness and humor also comes the hurt feelings. Last week she said something we thought was silly, but she was being serious, so when Mr. W laughed and repeated what she said, she frowned and said, “Don’t tease Allie!” We didn’t even know she knew the word “tease” or what it entails. She’d also said last week, when she felt insulted at our laughs, “Don’t laugh at Allie!” Which just makes thinks worse for her cuz now we’re repeating and laughing at THAT. She gets over it pretty quickly, though. Part of the adorableness in her speech, and why we laugh and repeat so much, is watching her find each word and component of a sentence to put together to express her thoughts. Things don’t come that naturally and smoothly, yet, so she’s actively constructing to communicate. Her word choices are funny and surprisingly good sometimes. Like when it’s time to go out and we remove the iPad from in front of her but she wasn’t ready to part with it, yet. “Nooo, dada, leave it! Don’t take Allie’s iPad away!” There’s a little pause after each word as she chooses the next word. Altho “leave it” is said smoothly together, so I wonder where she hears that. It’s not like we have a dog. She’s also started using tenses correctly. When I told her I wasn’t ready for the butt paste yet, so to not open the tube until I was ready, she solemnly tightened the cap she’d just loosened, brought the tube to her chest, and announced, “I will hold it for Mama. I will give butt paste to Mama when Mama is ready.” A little pause between each enunciated word, even ending consonants carefully pronounced and accounted for. And over the weekend, she walked by our bedroom closet and said, “Dodo was in there.” Past tense. :'(

Mr. W and I left early from work yesterday to pick up Allie and take her to her Vision Therapy evaluation. On the way to the appointment, Mr. W drove and I sat in the back with Allie. The setting sun cast some pretty rays directly into the back seat and onto my face. Allie and I had this conversation:
Allie: Mama’s orange.
Me: I’m orange?
Allie: Mama’s face is orange.
Me: What’s making Mama’s face orange?
Allie: The light.
Me: The light? Where does the light come from?
Allie: From sun! From sunset.
Me: Oh! The orange light comes from the sun?
Allie: Yeah!
Me: Where does Dada come from?
Allie: Um…Dada come from work.
Me: *laughing* Where does Mama come from?
Allie: Mama come from friend.
(I can’t believe she still remembers the one time 2 Saturdays ago that I wasn’t there when she woke up from her nap because I’d gone out with Gloria to see Rebecca. When she’d asked if I had gone to work, Mr. W had said no, I was with a friend. Every so often after that, when I would go into Allie’s room in the morning to get her, or get her up from her nap, she’d say, “Mama came back.” I reassured her that I would always come back.)
Me: No, mama came from work, too. Where does Allie come from?
Allie: Allie come from…Auntie Jayne.
(Haha, that’s true, we did pick her up from the care of her nanny Jayne at home.)

Allie was pretty well behaved during vision therapy, but it was obvious that she’s still a little too young for it. She wasn’t able to control her green flashlight beam to chase the therapist’s red flashlight beam against the wall (while wearing red/green glasses). She also wasn’t clear on her feedback of whether one side or the other was blacked out on the red/green-covered TV when we were showing a movie while she was wearing her red/green glasses. So there are some exercises we can do at home to help strengthen her eye movements and increase her brain’s awareness of her eye movements, which we’ll try to do (such as patching or covering one eye and having the other eye follow a toy in figure 8s or up/down left/right movements without moving her head, then doing the same with the other eye). Hopefully this will improve her on our own.

Right now, Mr. W is at home with Allie because Jayne thinks she has the flu. We all got flu shots about a month ago and even tho people at work have been dropping like flies with fever, abdominal pain, headaches, vomiting and/or diarrhea, we’ve so far dodged the bullet. Mr. W was hoping that whatever is in our flu shots this year covered the nasty bug going around. Jayne texted late last night and is apparently at home with a fever and pretty severe body and joint pains, and she is adamantly against getting the flu shot, so she may have the flu. The afflicted people at work I’ve spoken to have said they also did not get the flu shot. I’m keeping my fingers crossed that we’re protected.

The kid’s at an age when she’s able to express some creativity with words and play and concepts. Now we get a much better glimpse of how her brain works.

A recent example of Allie playing with words: The other day she was watching a video clip of Pocahontas singing “Colors of the Wind” on her iPad, and I said, “That’s Pocahontas.”
“Pocahontas?” she repeated. “That’s Pocahontas.” Then her up-to-something grin appeared and she stuck out her index finger, pointed to the screen, then jabbed it at Pocahontas and said, “Poke!” Pleased with her joke, she looked up at me and giggled.
The joke’s been done before, but when she did it, it’s cuter than when guys used to say, “I’ll poke yer hontas. Hur hur hur.”

Allie’s imagination and creativity are also showing in physical play. Earlier this evening she crawled rapidly around in the living room on all fours, giggling. I asked if she were a doggy, and she said no, she’s a mau-mau (cat). Then she laid down on her side, and swung her upper leg in a wide arc from left to right in the air, over and over. I didn’t know what she was doing, but before I could ask, she looked at me and explained, “That’s my tail.”
“That’s my tail.”
That’s one even I never thought of doing when I was her age and pretended all the time that I was a cat.

I wrap up Allie’s bedtime routine with a song and dance, just the two of us, letting Allie pick the song she wants sung to her. Allie’s gone from specific song requests (“Wheels on Bus!”) to made up songs (“Allie Bells Song!” “Elephant Song!”) to now, for the past week, made up words. Last night’s song request was “Alleyo.” The night before that it was something like “Humick.” Tonight, it was “I want peeyow song.” I know she’s trying to throw me off so I just confirm the “word” with her, she says, “Yeah!” with a mischievous smile, I don’t bat an eye, tell her okay, & make it up as I go. Haven’t heard a complaint yet. Some friends have done the same thing with their kids, and one suggested that I make up a song that spells her name and has her address in it, so it’ll help her memorize these things. I think that’s a good idea and will try to adopt it and come up with something.

Since Allie likes to challenge me, I figure that now’s a good time to challenge her, too. Instead of asking her the usual easy yes/no questions (“Did you hear that?”) or questions with specific answers (“Who’s holding Allie in that photo?”), it’ll now go something like this…
Allie: Allie’s foot smells!
Me: It smells? Does it smell good or bad?
Allie: It smells good.
Me: What does it smell like?
Allie: Smells like…apples.

Or, earlier this evening as I was putting lotion on her after her bath…
Me: *grabbing and hugging her* MY Allie. Is Allie MY Allie, or dada’s Allie?
Allie: Allie’s dada’s Allie, and mama’s Allie.

She’s always been very fair and PC. 🙂

(As an aside, she’s now dropping the 3rd person in at least half her speech. She now says “I don’t like that,” “That’s mine,” “I wanna watch mama make something,” etc.)

Because the last post was so…not a fun post, here’s a fun post about Allie’s first time participating in Halloween a couple of weeks ago.

Halloween this year was on a Thursday, so after work, we rushed home, changed Allie into her authentic Disney’s Snow White dress (adding a long-sleeved shirt inside), and put on her Snow White wig. The wig lasted MAYBE 10 minutes, which is 9 minutes 56 seconds longer than it lasted the first and second times. (This is the 3rd time.)

Mr. W’s plan was simply to walk through the neighborhood and across the street to Subway for an early dinner, and on the walk back, it’d be dark enough by then to hit a few houses on our street just to give her a little flavor of Halloween without going nuts. So we set off. Allie kept tripping over the front of her still-too-big dress, so Mr. W brought parts of the skirt up and the bodice in with these awful office bracket fasteners. =P

Toward the end of our street, the front door of a house to our left suddenly opened, and a woman’s voice beckoned to us. She wanted us to go to their house for an early trick-or-treat, because apparently the woman’s young daughter had been looking out the window when we were walking by and the daughter had excitedly called out to her mom, “OH MY GOSH, mommy! SNOW WHITE is in FRONT of OUR HOUSE!!” So Allie got her first trick-or-treating experience when it was still light out:

At Subway, Allie had the kids meal with a small turkey and cheese sandwich on wheat, with milk and, of course, the Snow White staple, apples.

It’s kinda painful to give her sandwiches without her having front teeth. I have to tear things into little bites she can stuff into her mouth, or at least bite off using the teeth on the sides. *sigh* It’s messy and I just feel bad for her, altho she doesn’t seem to care much. She’s got 3 of her 4 adult “second” molars now, so the crazy drooling has at least calmed significantly. It was nice to have gotten an answer to why she suddenly started drooling like an infant a couple of months ago.
On the walk back, we hit maybe 8 houses on our street. Allie soon mastered ringing the bell, commenting on their pumpkins and jack-o-lanterns, saying “trick or treat,” “thank you,” and “Happy Halloween.” On the walk leaving each house, she’d comment things like, “That was nice.” “The man was nice, give Allie candy.” “Doggy was pretty.” “I like those pumpkins.”
Once, she tried to put a wrapped candy bar in her mouth as she does with many things, and I told her, “Hey, take it out. That’s not food.” Well, it’s not…until the wrapper comes off. She took my statement at face value and didn’t try it again. She is still oblivious to what candy is and I’ll keep it this way as long as possible. She doesn’t like stuff too sweet/salty anyway, so the longer I can reinforce that in her taste buds, the better. There will come a time when this will change, but why start early, is my theory. (BTW, not only did she not eat any of her loot, but I didn’t even SEE any of her loot because Mr. W immediately turned it around and gave it away without my even knowing about it.)
After coming home, she wanted to be on the other side of the door, and give out candy. So she parked just behind the door, on the stairs, and waited.

Nothing happened for awhile. I asked Mr. W to go out to the street and usher in kids, since we live on the inside of a cul de sac street. He walked out and returned reporting that our street seemed abandoned. I guess the slew of early young kids were out trick-or-treating the same time we were, and it was too early for the older kids to come around. Still, Allie waited some more.

It was getting very close to her bedtime, so we changed her out of her Snow White costume, but she insisted on going straight back to her waiting spot and being ready to hand out candy.

Then, FINALLY, the ONLY people to ring our bell that ENTIRE evening.

Allie did end up getting a well-rounded Halloween experience before going to bed that night, and to this day still talks about how she “gave candy to little girl.” Too bad the kids didn’t say “trick or treat” to her, that would’ve made it more complete. Well, so would the consumption of candy, I guess, but she doesn’t care about that part, yet. She did repeatedly ask for a “happu birday cake” for her birthday later this month.
BTW, when we took Allie upstairs to start her bedtime routine, Mr. W put the giant bowl of candy outside our porch so the kids could take some on their own without ringing our bell, since we’d be unavailable. The entire night, we heard people at our door only twice. The first time, we heard excited kids talking, and when we looked after they’d left, the giant bowl was EMPTY. Greedy kids. I knew I should’ve handed out dental floss instead of chocolate.

Allie had her eye appointment this morning to check visual acuity with a pediatric optometrist/vision therapy specialist. I wanted someone who specialized in vision therapy with kids to double-check the diagnosis and treatment plan from the Kaiser pediatric ophthalmologist (Dr. S)’s exam last month.

Allie was great; very cooperative (albeit fidgety) and because she was able to identify colors and shapes, Dr. T was able to get a read on the eye chart, altho she didn’t tell us what the exact numbers were. So instead of letters, Allie was making distinctions between square, a house-like pentagon, circle, and something that has the top of a heart but also has the bottom sharply pointed in, sort of like an apple. Allie alternated between calling that shape a “heart” and a “strawberry.”

The diagnosis was pretty much the same. Dr. T found Allie to be a bit far-sighted, and as for the “wandering eye,” said it was intermittent and alternating, meaning Allie sometimes favors the left eye and lets the right eye turn out, and sometimes focuses with the right eye and the left eye then turns out. That, at least, means the brain is receiving signals from both eyes and the neural pathway is there. Dr. T said the brain is just somehow unaware, when Allie’s looking out far or is relaxed and spaced out, that the eyes are turned away from a focal point, but once brought to the brain’s attention, such as by asking Allie to look at something in closer range, Allie is able to immediately bring the eyes back in and focus properly. So the auto-pilot of keeping the eyes forward-pointing is what’s slightly off. Her brain’s supposed to regulate the eyes without her need to consciously do it, and her brain doesn’t do it all the time. Like Dr. S, Dr. T thinks this isn’t an urgent situation and surgery is a distant option.

Dr. T. asked what Dr. S’s treatment plan was, and I said he wanted her to be patched 4 hours a day, alternating eyes between the days. Dr. T said that this is a good plan, and whatever amount of time Allie would allow for this patching will be good, even if it’s 20 minutes a day to begin with. She suggested that since Allie so wants to watch and play with the iPad, to tell her iPad time is okay as long as she’s wearing the patch. I asked wouldn’t this patching split up the cooperative use of the eyes that we want to keep and encourage for proper binocular vision? She said there are multiple theories on this, but that if we don’t want to do patching at this point (I really, really don’t), it’s okay and we can try vision therapy first. She said she’s not promising that SOME patching won’t come later. This is great because Dr. S not only doesn’t do vision therapy for kids this young, but he also said he didn’t think vision therapy would help Allie’s condition. Mr. W and I think it will because we’ve recently increased Allie’s permitted video/iPad time, seeing that Allie’s eyes are always focused and cooperating when she’s watching a video on or playing with the iPad, since she’s so interested in it, and in a week or so, she’s able to bring her focus in much more easily and quickly when she’s having a turn-out moment.

So next step: we’ll make an appointment with the vision therapist at this office to evaluate whether Allie is able to do in-office vision therapy sessions. She needs to be able to follow directions and do what’s needed for 45 minutes, and to give proper feedback so they know what she’s seeing. Dr. T thinks Allie’s sort of borderline in being able to do this; she was impressed that for a kid not even 2, Allie follow directions well and is able to verbalize what shapes, colors and pictures she sees, and was tolerant at wearing glasses that covered each eye in turn and in looking through that big contraption that goes over her face to check her vision.
If Allie is able to do in-office vision therapy, she’ll likely start once a week with “homework” daily that we’ll help her on, such as activities and special movies wearing special glasses. If not, we’ll still get “homework” in vision therapy to start, most likely a red/blue video(s) that she’ll watch wearing red/blue glasses, so that if her eyes diverge during the video, the side of the video with the eye she’s not favoring will turn black, and it’ll give her brain a kick to say, “Oh hey, something’s wrong,” and train her awareness to bring the eye back in.

Because we have Kaiser and it’s not a PPO, this office visit is completely out-of-pocket and cost me $185 today. Each subsequent vision therapy appointment is $100 a pop, which is insanely expensive when you consider that if we go the eyepatch route, it’s less than $10 for a box of adhesive eyepatches, but I’ve gotten so much feedback from adults who were patched as kids who say it did nothing for them except make them miserable, that I’m willing to throw money at a different Plan A first. That’s what rainy day savings are for, right?

Allie’s play in her pretend-kitchen is endlessly fascinating to me. It keeps evolving. Today, she trotted over to her kitchen in the corner of the living room and announced, “Allie make coffee for mama.” She dug around in the accessories box until she found a little tea cup, saying, “There,” as she pulled it out. She grabbed the coffee pot accessory with her free hand and then almost as an afterthought, looked at the teacup again and said, “Need to wash cup.” She put the coffee pot back down and put the cup under the plastic faucet in the sink, turning it around and around directly under the spigot. Then she looked at the cup again as if to inspect its cleanliness, then turned back to the coffee pot and shoved it in a coffeemaker type attachment on her play kitchen counter. She touched her right index finger to a sticker over the top of the “coffeemaker” protrusion, then stood back and just stared at the plastic pot. I was about to ask her why she’s all spaced out, when she suddenly sprang to life again and pulled the coffeepot out. I guess she was waiting for the pretend-coffee to finish dripping into the pot. She then made a pouring motion from the coffeepot into the teacup, then walked the teacup over to me. “Here you go, mama.”
I thanked her and said, “Mmm, Allie’s coffee smells really good!”
She was digging around in the accessories bin again, talking to herself. Suddenly she pulled out a spoon and ran back to me. “Stir stir stir,” she said as she stir stir stirred in my cup. “There! Okay, mama,” she said, and I took my pretend-sip as she watched.
“Mmmm, it’s yummy!” I exclaimed.
“Yeah!” she said, like Duh, of course it’s yummy. I know what I’m doing, mom.

We liked our pumpkin patch photos from 2012 (in San Juan Capistrano) so much that we wanted to take Allie to a pumpkin patch again this year. We walked by the same pumpkin patch/petting farm when we were taking photos with Kari in October, but the place was so crowded that we decided to pass and find a smaller, more intimate pumpkin patch. We tried a couple of small ones, but they were SO small that we just did a walk-through and left, and I didn’t let Allie participate in the bounce house or the inflated obstacle courses where bigger kids were going nuts, for fear she’d be kicked in the face or squished. At one patch, she requested, “Allie go in that house, Allie go in that house,” but I explained that the bounce house was for big kids and Allie could go in those when she’s bigger, maybe next year, but now she’s too small, and she was fine with that. “House for big kids. Allie little girl. NOT little boy. Allie little girl. Allie too small.” And we left. Then I was told by a friend about a larger nice pumpkin farm relatively close to our house, near the Laguna Hills Mall. THAT was a hit. Here are some of those photos, from October 26.

A giant pumpkin, lit up from inside by our little grinny goofball.

There were lots of rides, including Allie’s first pony ride!

And of course the carnival-type vehicle rides.

Allie said this is her favorite ride (“swing-swing!”), not that you can tell by her serious expression.

This isn’t a ride, but it’s a vehicle. She likes to climb on high things, so she’s finally smiling. A little. Okay, at least she’s not frowning.

I know Allie looks totally unimpressed, but she claimed to have had fun. She wanted to go back the next day and talked about it for a few days afterwards. She’s just stoic like her mama when in public. Also, you may notice that in some photos she’s wearing pigtails, and in others, a ponytail. We were there in the morning (pigtails), went home, and after her nap she wanted to go back, so we did (ponytail).

Just for fun, here are some comparison pix between last year and this year.
Sitting on a saddle strapped onto a bale of hay.

Allie using the pumpkin patch to meet boys.

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