Baby Care

The tooth-pull procedure went amazingly smoothly. We have an awesome pediatric dentist, and he explained everything to Allie and demonstrated on Allie’s hand before he did it so she didn’t get scared. For example, before he put the pliers in her mouth, he held her little hand up and put it against his, and said, “See how big my hand is? It’s a lot bigger than your hand. Your tooth is tiny, so I have to use this tool to help me hold on to it. My fingers are too big to hold the tooth.” Then he took out the pliers and demonstrated gently on Allie’s fingertip what it would do on her tooth as he described what he was doing. The entire procedure, like he said, from laughing gas (she didn’t laugh or seem to even respond much to it) to Novocaine (used the topical numbing gel first, then when the needle went in she didn’t move an inch, but did smack her mouth around a bit with her tongue like a dog eating peanut butter when she went numb) to tooth extraction probably took about 2 mins, not including the time spent idle waiting for numbing stuff to kick in.

The dentist warned us that after she leaves, she may complain that her mouth or tooth “hurts,” but that she’s not really experiencing pain — it’s just the only word she has to describe the weird numb sensation she’d never felt before. Sure enough, that happened and she was a bit whimpery over it.

Our other concern was that Allie shouldn’t suck/use straws for 24 hours hours after the procedure, or she’d pull the blood clot out. But she sucks her thumb when she falls asleep. She ended up resisting her nap, which was fairly soon after her her procedure, so we went with it and took her to the Irvine Spectrum to distract her instead. She rode the Ferris Wheel, the train, had ice cream to make her mouth feel better. Although she was still a bit whiny and periodically would complain her mouth hurts, she was good about not licking the area (cuz we told her not to) and it kept her from sucking her thumb. At night, we put her to bed early and advised her not to suck her thumb to keep her tooth area safe, and skipped brushing her teeth that night. She fell asleep without sucking her thumb, altho by the time she would habitually thumbsuck in the middle of the night, things were already fine. The dentist said the thumbsucking doesn’t create enough suction to be an issue after the first hour of the procedure, and she wasn’t bothered enough by discomfort to have the middle-of-the-night thumbsucking wake her all the way up or disrupt her sleep, so things went fine.

Here’s a video of her the same afternoon after her tooth extraction. You can see she’s fine.

It’s now been a few weeks since the procedure. Allie hasn’t really missed a beat in her lifestyle/habits, and still eats well, although biting things like tomato slices are a bigger challenge. She just slides the food to her right side and bites pieces off that way. The other day she pointed out to Mr. W that the hole in her mouth where her tooth had come out is still there.
Mr. W: That’s because your tooth hasn’t grown in, yet. It won’t grow in for a long time. Maybe when you’re 7 or 8.
Allie: What color will it be when it grows in?
Mr. W: Your tooth? It’ll be white, like your other ones.
Allie: Oh. I was hoping it would be pink. Or purple.

So the thing with the current infection.

I was brushing Allie’s teeth last Thursday night when I noticed a weird shadow cast over the front of her gums, right above the broken left front tooth. That was the worse break of the two, the one closest to the nerve, and the one in which Allie’s pediatric dentist observed, at Allie’s last checkup a couple of months ago, what appeared to be a pinhole opening from the back of the tooth into the nerve. Ever since we’d gone to Dr. Wu after Allie’s fall last year, he’d told us to watch for discoloration of the broken teeth, abscess on the gums, and something else that I can’t remember (probably pain or redness in the gums). I’d THOUGHT her front left tooth looked a little dark in the center on the inside for a few weeks, like it was slightly gray, but Mr. W said he didn’t think it was gray, so I’d let it go. And suddenly, that Friday, her gums abscessed. It was a huge bump. Like, almost the size of her remaining partial tooth huge. It cast its own shadow, for gosh sakes.

I’d never seen an abscess on gums before, and just that week, my judge told me a story about how HIS gums grew an abscess after a root canal had gotten infected, and that was the first I’d heard of anyone having a bump grow on the gum. Thanks to his description, I knew immediately what Allie’s giant bump was, and that it’s an internal infection at the tooth’s root, growing outward. Thankfully, we already had the next day (Friday) off for the stepkidlet’s graduation from college. I called that Friday morning on the drive to the graduation and got squeezed in for an appointment that afternoon. Meanwhile, Allie was her usual cheery self and still hasn’t complained about or seemed to even know about her infection, which I already knew was going to lead either to a baby root canal or a tooth extraction.

After Allie’s nap, we were off to the dentist. Allie was super-duper cooperative with the medical procedures, as she usually is at any doctor’s office, and even held her own x-ray “film” (in quotes because it’s all digital imaging these days).

Said x-ray revealed that the bump is not a random coincidental unrelated gum blister, as I’d been hoping for, but is indeed a pretty significant infection at the tooth’s root. One-third of the root was already missing, and the dentist, Dr. Wu, explained that the tooth was basically already dead. The infection has to go somewhere, so it’s pushing out from the side of her gum. He was surprised and impressed that she’d shown no signs of pain. He said that given the severity of the infection, a baby root canal’s efficacy isn’t great, so our best shot to prevent damage to her adult tooth sitting right above the infection site, and to properly clean out the infection and prevent its spread (so her system doesn’t become septic), is to have that tooth pulled. The consequences of losing a baby tooth this early is that for the next 5-6 years, she’ll be missing that tooth, so it’s likely that the other teeth would collapse inward without that space holder especially since she’s a thumb-sucker (at bedtimes). That would lead to insufficient room for her adult tooth/teeth to descend, so they may be pretty crooked, and that would likely lead to needing braces when she’s older.
All this from a FALL when she tripped over her baby gate threshold last year!
Dr. Wu said he could put in a “flipper” as a space holder for the tooth, but it would force Allie to sit still for much longer, going through the tooth molding and installment process, and it would only be cosmetic (and poorly so), anyway, as far as its effectiveness. He said if it were his daughter in Allie’s position, he’d unquestionably pull the tooth and kids tolerate this very well and are just fine. He’d dope her up a little with laughing gas, put a numbing gel on her gum, give her a shot of Novocain, then pull the tooth out, the entire process taking about 2 minutes, he explained. We agreed to the treatment plan.
He went on to say that in the realm of kid issues and medical concerns, this is a “nothing.” After it heals in a week she’d be as “normal” as can be and we’ll worry about crooked teeth way later. I know that’s more likely true than not, since I had both my front teeth knocked out as a preschooler and I have no memories of difficulties or trauma. It just WAS and I didn’t think or care much about the space in my gums. My permanent teeth grew in just fine and I had perfectly straight teeth. But then I wasn’t a thumb or pacifier sucker. Speaking of sucking, it’s one thing to keep Allie from using straws and sippys when she’s healing (sucking would pull out the blood clot from the gum hole), but quite another to keep her from sucking her thumb as she falls asleep. No idea how that’s going to work.

Meanwhile, Allie is on a week’s worth of liquid Amoxicillin antibiotics to clear her abscess/infection before the dentist goes in to mess with it and create an open wound. I was nervous about medicating her, since college roommie’s daughter Alexis so loathed her antibiotics that she would run and hide behind furniture when she saw the medication being taken out, and just that week, I read this status message posted by a jujitsu friend who has a <1 year old daughter and a 4 year old daughter:

Anybody know how to get antibiotics into very small children without them being vomited right back up? The pharmacist said don’t mix them with anything, but so far, both girls have gagged and spit up at least one dose, and I’m sort of dreading 10 days of being covered in white, chalky, crud that smells like fake strawberries and quite clearly tastes awful.

Allie’s dentist said kids tend to like the antiobiotic liquid (Sandoz brand) he’s prescribing and it’s pink and tastes like strawberries. So I started prepping Allie ASAP. Leaving the dentist, we drove to Kaiser to fill her prescription, and in the car, I told her she’s getting her very own medicine, and it’s her favorite color of pink, and it’s yummy. She badly wanted her very own medicine. After receiving it from the pharmacist, Allie desperately wanted to hold the bottle, so we let her, and she was delighted to see that it is, indeed, pink. “Can I twy it? Can I taste it?” she asked. We told her not yet, and the entire car ride home she was begging, demanding, asking to “twy” the medicine, “dwink” the medicine, she wants it “now, not later.” “I want my medicine. Can I have my medicine? I just wanna hold it. Can I have it? I wanna drink it. Can I taste it?” At home, we filled the dispenser syringe with 5ml (1 tsp) of the pink stuff, I told her this is going to be really fun because she can suck on the syringe as we push the meds in her mouth, and she sucked it all up (we tried it with water first so she knew what to expect) and demanded more. She has SO taken to this medicine that we’re now using it as a bribe for her to finish her dinner. Just tonight…
Allie: I don’t wanna eat the gween thing.
Me: That’s spinach. You like spinach.
Allie: No, I don’t want it.
Me: Do you want medicine?
Allie: *face lighting up* Yeah!
Me: You have to finish the spinach to get to the medicine.
She ate all her dinner, including all her spinach, and she got her dose of medicine very happily. I don’t know what I’m gonna do after we’re done with the bottle. Guess I’ll have to go back to bribing her with multivitamins.

Tonight, after 6 days of antibiotic treatment, the abscess bump finally looks smaller, altho still present. Allie’s appointment for the tooth pull is on Monday. I keep thinking about how I should be taking photos like crazy of her adorable smile now, because after Monday, all her smiles will be with a crooked gap for the next 6-7 years. And after that, who knows what her adult tooth would look like coming in to a possibly crooked environment. But I am, however, comforted by the fact that we did wait about a year before having to do any medical intervention on the broken tooth, so that Allie doesn’t have to be put completely under for a procedure, like the first dentist wanted to do. And having found this 2nd dentist whom we love, we also got to save Allie’s other broken tooth, because even now, not one word was ever said about baby root canals or tooth extractions on the other broken tooth which is still asymptomatic. I think I’m pretty well-adjusted about the situation now, but I was seriously, seriously bummed on Friday after the return from the dentist. I’d posted then on the social networking site:

Cindy has never in her life cited scripture, much less purchased scripture jewelry, but this morning at Mariner’s Church for [the stepkidlet’s] graduation from Vanguard University, I happened across inscribed rings at the gift shop as I walked from the restroom to meet Allie and hubby at the campus cafe. Uncharacteristically, I bought two rings because they spoke to me (although almost all of the 30+ designs were beautifully done with a wide variety of touching scripture). This was before Allie’s dental appointment and the heavy feeling I now have knowing what she would soon endure. With all the healthy kids around me, I feel sad that Allie has to endure patching daily for many years until she has eye surgery, and has to endure the same number of years of being without a front tooth which would obviously affect her eating, her bedtime thumb-sucking (until the extraction wound heals), the ability for her adult teeth to come in easily, and both may get her made fun of in school when she starts attending. Why her? I wondered sadly. What lesson or purpose will reveal itself later?
I’d almost forgotten about the rings. I just pulled them out of my purse, and read the two inscriptions.
“I know the plans I have for you.” Jeremiah 29:11
“Fear not, for I am with you.” Isaiah 41:10
I was pre-fortified, and wasn’t aware of it. This status message was created with fingers dressed in His earlier and daily message to me. I hear You, and am grateful.

This status message garnered a lot of support, comforting anecdotes, reassurances from friends, for which I am also very grateful. Keeping fingers crossed for next Monday.

The weekend after our return from the Hawaii vacation, Mr. W changed Allie’s convertible crib to a toddler bed. The mattress is dropped closer to the ground, and the front rail is changed out and replaced with a half-rail. We’d talked to Allie about getting a “big girl bed” that big girls can climb in and out of on their own, and she wanted one. She was very excited after the conversion and wanted to go into her room to hang out on her bed during arbitrary times in the day.
We first explained that although she can climb in and out on her own, she is not to get in and out after she’s gone to bed. She ran around the room, pointing at various things, and said, “Can I touch this lamp? What about this cord? Can I touch this chair? How about this clock?” No, no, no. Only after her nap or in the morning after bedtime can she get out when we come get her.
She did well and only slipped a couple of times. One time in the first week, Jayne caught her in the camera, after crawling into bed for her nap, across the room reaching up on her dresser. Jayne opened the door, stuck her head in, and (according to Jayne) Allie froze mid-action with the horrified “I’ve been caught” look on her face. “Alliiiie,” Jayne said, “Are you supposed to be out of bed?” Allie’s chin and lower lip trembled as she shook her head. “Wanna come close the door and get back into bed?” Allie walked over, guilt-ridden look on her near-tearful face, and gently closed the door. Jayne watched her on camera climb right back into bed and stay there for the duration of her nap. In the mornings or after nap, when we see she’s been awake for awhile (10-15 mins), hanging out on her bed and playing with Mr. Bear or singing or whatever, we knock, and we watch her excitedly climb off her bed and run for the door and open it for us.
This is Allie’s first nap in the toddler bed. It went well and uneventfully.

This is Allie’s first night in the toddler bed. It also went well…sort of. But rest assured, she was asleep in these photos. And she did eventually get back on the bed on her own to finish out the night.

Notice all the padding on the floor. I was afraid she’d fall out. She didn’t like all the stuff under the opening, as I guess it hinders her ease of getting in and out (during permitted travel times). I finally agreed, after many uneventful weeks, to remove her safety padding as she’d always asked me to do. A few nights later, she fell out of bed. I went in to comfort the terrified sobbing girl, and from that moment on, she never again protested my putting the padding back under the opening. She fell out one other time (I think, as I didn’t see it, only heard 2 thumps and then the crying afterward), and that was luckily padded. The reason I wasn’t sure if she fell out, or if she may have gotten out on her own and tripped, is because I’ve seen her come out of bed briefly just to get back in facing the other way, or to go to sleep half-standing and half laying on her mattress thru the opening, and one time she did this:

Only this week, she started doing something new. She started opening the door on her own after I’ve put her to bed, asking for an extra drink of water, or another hug and kiss, or to bring up that we forgot to wash her face after dinner, or forgot to give her a vitamin. These requests are made in tears prior to her falling asleep, and I have no idea what’s wrong as she’s sometimes crying so hard she’s hiccupping her words. So far I’ve quickly obliged, mostly to calm her down, then she goes back to bed, insists on pushing the door closed like she does every night from inside the bed (standing against the rail closest to the door), then she lays down and the sobs subside and she goes to sleep. But in the morning, or post-nap, same thing. She awakens early and suddenly in tears, runs to the door and opens it, stands at the baby gate we put just outside her door so she doesn’t wander out in the middle of the night, calls tearfully, “Mommy! Daddy! I’m awake! I’m awake!” I’m hopeful this is just a phase. Or maybe it’s because she’s not feeling well, since she’s fighting an infection she’s never hinted at having any discomfort about. I’ll write about that next.

Next plan if this continues: I’ll stop indulging in her requests so she doesn’t think, “This works, I’ll keep doing it for attention or to stall my bedtime.” I’ll simply pick her up, tell her it’s bedtime baby, place her back into bed, give her a kiss goodnight, and leave, closing the door behind me. She gets up again, same thing but this time sans words, sans kiss. Just business, so she knows it’s ineffective. This should stop her if she’s doing it out of habit. I’m humoring her for now just in case it’s illness-related, because this is so uncharacteristic of her to wake up crying and needy.

Allie had her pediatric ophthalmology appointment today, as a follow-up to her diverging eye issue. Ever since out-of-network vision therapy failed as a viable option (Allie being too young to meaningfully participate) and Allie’s first follow-up with her pediatric ophthalmologist showed her not getting better, we had all been faithfully following the patching prescription. 6 days a week, an eye is patched for 2 hours, one eye on one day, the other eye on the next day, and so on. Allie is an amazingly good sport about it. She has occasional special requests, such as “I want Daisy Duck!”, which we try to oblige.

But generally, she picks out a patch that matches what she’s wearing for the day from 2 boxes of adorable pre-printed colorful designs, she closes her eyes as the patch is applied, and she goes about her day. 2 hours later, the patch is removed, and she goes about her day again. She went thru a brief bout in which she refused to have the patch removed because she said it would hurt. (The adhesive on the Master-Aid brand designer patches was much stronger than on the flesh-toned Nexcare patches.) We resolved that problem by sticking the fancy patch on our forearm lightly two times before affixing it to her eye, to weaken the glue a bit. Now she can remove the patch herself when time’s up.
Her eyes seem to both focus well, and the turnout is much less common, only when she’s tired. She even stopped turning out when she was spaced out and daydreaming. And it was easier to bring her eyes back to center. I was hoping that she’d be out of her patches by the time the next follow-up happened, but she was still having occasional turn-outs, so I knew she’d likely have to wear the patch just a bit longer. Another 2 months, maybe. I anticipated the pediatric ophthalmologist giving me the good news of her progress.
Instead, I got the shock of my life. He was really happy, it seemed, because she hasn’t gotten worse. What? You mean she’s gotten so much BETTER, right? No, he said the degree outturn measured the same, and there’s no cure and improvement at a “30” outturn is rare. If she had “10” outturn (degrees, maybe?), there may be the possibility for a return back to normal, but not “30.” No, this patching thing is just to prevent her from getting worse until she could get corrective eye surgery. WHAT?! Yes. And if she got worse in the meantime, we’d switch to over-under glasses to force her eyes to work harder to see, and if that doesn’t help, then early surgery. WHAT?! What’s meant by “early?!” Kids’ eyes, muscle growth, control and coordination are still changing and developing until about age 8, so to do any surgery before that would be akin to putting braces on a 6 year-old. So we’re looking at closer to 7, 8 for surgery.
Eff, eff, eff. Wait. Does that mean we’re going to keep PATCHING DAILY for the NEXT 5-6 YEARS?!
Apparently so. Unless she gets worse, in which case, glasses is Plan B, earlier surgery is Plan C.
Eff. I am going to re-enroll her in vision therapy when she’s a little older as a last-ditch effort to avoid cutting her eyeball muscles.
My poor baby.

This Easter, Allie had 2 egg hunts…the one in the backyard with just us and my parents, like last year, followed by her cracking and eating an egg or two for a snack, and one in a park with a bunch of the moms/nannies/kids that Jayne became friends with, cuz the kids apparently all hang out in our neighborhood park.
She also got to meet and get her photos with the Easter Bunny.

Where does the time go?

Allie got her first haircut last weekend (aside from the one bang trim her Dada did). $20 for snipping baby hair seems a bit steep to me, but it was a nice experience. Allie was very cooperative, and did look cute afterwards. The straggly bottom now looks more uniform.

College roommie Diana, along with her hubby Eric and their daughter Alexis came to town in the past week. Diana attended some work-related functions and seminars while Eric and Alexis went to Disneyland. Allie and I joined the three of them at Disneyland one morning. Allie got to meet Buzz Lightyear, something she’d never done before, because we’d never looked into where he makes his appearances. Since Alexis is a fan, Allie went along for the ride, so to speak.

I didn’t even realize we didn’t have a photo with Diana until I came home and reviewed the photos. =/
Allie was rather quiet there, not her usual adventurous spritely self, but I figured it may have been because she and I were by ourselves and she wasn’t overly familiar with Diana & family. Also unusual, though, on our drive home, she fell asleep. She didn’t sleep well or long, but it’s not like her to be so exhausted that she actually completely falls asleep in the car. Normally she holds out for her crib.

Unfortunately, the nap ended with two waterfalls of vomit. 🙁 She ate her scrambled eggs and waffle fairly well for breakfast because I told her we weren’t leaving for Disneyland until she was done, but had little appetite for her lunch, which was mainly fingerfoods she ate as we sat in the shade of a tree near the Disney gate. What came out was everything she had for lunch, and a lot of the egg she had for breakfast. She didn’t digest much of anything the entire morning. And then Allie cried because “I got it all over everything. I got it on my pretty dress. It’s everywhere.” She was definitely sitting in a vomit lake. We were blocks from home, fortunately, so I was able to get her in, cleaned up, and while she napped, I took the carseat apart and washed everything. That night she had a fever of 102, as well as the entire weekend.
Over the weekend, she vomited another time after complaining “my tummy hurt, rub it, rub it!” and when her fever rose to 103, we took her in to Kaiser. I was mainly worried because that entire day she hadn’t peed much and I wasn’t successful in getting much nutrition or fluids into her.

The doctor’s visit was horrific for me and Mr. W. After not being able to get into her regular nearby Kaiser, we took an available appointment at a farther office in Anaheim and was seen by, coincidentally, the head of pediatrics from our hospital who was there for the day at that hospital. He was not happy to learn that we could not be seen at the regular hospital and wanted names and exact wording told to us, etc. I wasn’t of any mind to file a complaint, I was just glad she was getting seen. Anyway, he felt her abdomen and ruled out bowel obstruction, but wanted to run some tests on her. They involved drawing a lot of blood. (He also wanted a urine sample, but Allie had no pee, altho she’d sucked up 2.5 glasses of her favorite grape-flavored Pedialyte by then that Mr. W picked up in the hospital lobby.) So I told Allie as we sat down at the phlebotomist that she was going to put out her arm, and the nurse was going to put a little needle in, and she’ll feel a little prick, and she needs to stay still. Allie was SO GOOD. The nurse had a hard time finding a vein and felt around inside both of Allie’s elbows. I thought, “Oh, no.” Then she tied up one arm, instructed Allie to pump her hand on a cardboard tube (which Allie did), then they went in…and not a drop came out. The nurse wiggled the needle around inside Allie’s arm and I of course could not watch and tried to distract Allie as she sat unmoving in my lap. And then she tried it again on Allie’s left arm. Fruitless. Allie was still cooperative and really, really good. Another nurse came by an offered to try, and did the same thing on Allie’s right arm again, wiggling and pushing the needle. Finally, Allie whimpered, staying still, “It hurts, it hurts.” Then little tears rolled out. We stopped that attempt immediately. The lab called the doctor for the update and we returned. As soon as Allie was safely in the privacy of the small doctor’s office, she let go and sobbed. It was so sad. The doctor reluctantly let us take her home with instructions to bring her back if the vomiting continues (she’d only vomited once since the 2 times in the car) or if her fever goes higher. She didn’t vomit again and her behavior wasn’t too different that weekend, although her fever made me very nervous as it hovered near 103. But she was drinking a lot, peeing, and eating in bits and pieces, so we just monitored her. Mr. W just wanted her well before we left for Hawaii the following Tuesday.
This is Allie the next morning after the doctor’s visit, sipping on more Pedialyte while she hung out on our bed.

We were concerned that this experience would now traumatize her from her happy doctor visits, but Allie still says she likes the doctor and would like to go back. She did get a slew of Hello Kitty stickers from the traumatic visit. Allie’s fever broke after the 3rd day, much to our relief, altho other little symptoms set in. A phlegmy cough, a runny nose after coughing fits. Nothing that slowed her down, though.

In January this year, Allie had started making very deliberate efforts to do things she didn’t want to do, in order to be “nice.” She still does much of her thinking aloud, so this decision would sound something like: When an older girl grabs a publicly accessible toy or playground equipment that Allie was on, Allie would say “I wait. I be nice.” When I tell her to put something down that she really want to hold there is a visible struggle on her face and then it suddenly resolves and she does what she’s told, announcing, “I be nice.” I’d like to think that the “nice” part wins out more often than the resistant part of her. She does volunteer encouragement, such as when I successfully complete a move on one of her learning apps on her iPad, she’d say, “Good job, mama!” And I enjoy the arbitrary compliments of “Mama’s putty” (pretty) and “Dada’s handy” (handsome). As a matter of fact, every female is “putty” and every male is “handy.”

In February and now March, she’s a little more into testing her will. She’ll refuse something not because she dislikes it or truly doesn’t want it, but just to see if she’ll get her way. She may want to go to the park, but she’ll say, “No, I wanna stay home,” just because she wants to be contrary. Unfortunately, she commits to the decision that she’s made without much true opinion behind the commitment. It still works if we just lets her have her protest and then tell her when she’s done, she can let us know, and she’ll get over it in a minute and tell us, “I’m ready now.” Sometimes distraction works. Sometimes reasoning works. But we generally stand firm on not letting her have her way simply because she’s insisting on it. “I’m sorry, Allie, you can’t have more than 2 vitamins a day. You already had two vitamins today. You can have more tomorrow.” “NOOOO, not TOMORROW, want another vitamin NOW!” Meh, it could be worse. She could be insisting on chocolate, which she actually quite dislikes, along with pizza, salty foods, cakes.

Lately, especially in the last couple of weeks, Allie seems very concerned with her affect on others emotionally. She’ll eat something simply to make me happy (which I admit I use to my advantage), so although she may initially refuse a food, she’ll suddenly change her mind and then after she eats it, she’ll announce, “I eat this and make Mama happy!” Or sometimes she’ll simply ask earnestly, “Mama, are you happy? I finished it!” Just within the past week, she has taken to asking on occasion, “Dada, are you happy?” “Mama, are you happy?” She will tilt her head and look us right in the eyes and evaluate our expressions as we answer this question. I’ve decided this is best answered “Yes, I’m very happy,” especially when she’s happy and well-behaved, so that she responds, “I’m happy, too!”, instead of treating it like an existential question. The other day I caught her watching “Mrs. Spider’s Tea Party” on her iPad, a story about a misunderstood spider that all the other insects avoided because they didn’t realize she’s a vegetarian spider until the end of the story, and Allie was repeating parts of the story and saying mournfully, “Awww, she’s sad! Come back, come back! [to the insects running away from the spider] Awww, she’s sad, she’s sad!” and hugging the iPad to comfort the lonely Mrs. Spider.
A bailiff I’m social-networking friends with said about Allie’s displays of empathy, “Well, you know she’s not a psychopath. Or autistic or have Aspberger’s.” Hmm. Never thought of it that way. Mostly I just think about how Rebecca had told me prior to Allie’s birth that she’s “a wonderful person” and she “loves people” and “wants to help.”

I got 3 pieces of bad news this week.

1.) Wednesday was the kid’s dental checkup. I was all happy and confident going into the pediatric dentist’s office because Allie’s broken front teeth have not seemed bother her this whole time. We still brush twice a day, floss nightly. We even have a new flossing game. After Allie selects the kid floss pick she wants to use, we examine what animal shape it is. “It’s a dolphin!” “It’s a crab!” “It’s a hippo!” She starts off flossing a few teeth, then it’s my turn. We tell the floss, “Get the food out of Allie’s teeth, dolphin! What do you think the dolphin will find in Allie’s teeth?” Allie would think back and list as many things as she could remember eating that day. “I think there’s broccoli!” “I think there’s yam!” “I think there’s rice!” Lately she’d get silly. “I think there’s pillow!” “I think there’s cars!” If I get any food bits out, I’d show it to her and she’d be delighted and open up so the animal on the floss pick can hunt some more.
So anyway, the dentist saw what appeared to be a tiny hole in the back of the front tooth that had suffered the most damage. He had her x-rayed, and saw a “shadow” in the roots of that tooth that wasn’t there in the x-ray from 6 months ago. It could be a beginning infection, but as she’s asymptomatic, it could also be nothing. Conservative dentist that he is, he put the tooth on “watch” and didn’t want to start drilling or doing a root canal or even a patching, yet. However, he warned us that if she starts getting pain or showing signs of an infection, he’d have to root canal that tooth and if the damage is severe, pull it instead so the decay doesn’t spread to the permanent tooth underneath the baby tooth’s root. 🙁 I’m keeping my fingers crossed. It just has to last until her baby tooth falls out. So, like, 4 more years. :/
On the happy side, Allie was super duper incredibly cooperative. They got to do a tooth cleaning on her. Afterwards she was happy about her “new shiny teeth.”

2.) I got notification from Discover that my credit card has been compromised AGAIN. This is getting ridiculous. I’m going to see if I can figure out when it was last compromised (I think was within the past year) to see if I had used it at the same merchant. Discover Card’s fraud protection department is amazing. Whatever logarithm they use for determining what is/isn’t my charge is right on. They contacted me about unusual activity on my card the same night it happened, and locked down my card. This time someone used my card number to buy hundreds of dollars’ worth of stuff via Best Buy dot com and Microsoft dot com. Discover has already terminated this account, credited me the money, opened a new account number and the new card is on its way, but it’s just a pain to have to remember what companies have my old number store on file for frequent purchases and charges, such as Amazon and various doctor’s offices. At least this has already been resolved, aside from updating accounts with the new credit card number once I receive it.

3.) This one is a pretty painful one. On Thursday, I took Allie to her pediatric ophthalmologist follow-up appointment for the out-turn of her eyes. It’s still intermittent, and some weeks are better than other weeks, but it hasn’t gone away. As a summary, I had delayed the ophthalmologist’s treatment plan of patching each eye for 4 hours a day, 6 days a week, because I had wanted to avoid the patching altogether by taking Allie to vision therapy. Well, Allie was too young to meaningfully engage in vision therapy. We tried. But since that failed, I hadn’t done anything except to tell her to “look at mama with both eyes” when I see her eyes diverge, and when she brings the focus back in at will, she’s good until she looks far away for an extended period of time (like watches TV) or gets tired. I had sort of fallen back on the last statement the ophthalmologist threw over his shoulder at the end of the last visit, which was, “Or you can do nothing and we’ll wait and see and reassess in a few months.” Okay, so we did nothing. We reassessed. She’s worse. The out-turn has increased between 5-10 degrees (she measured at 20-25 degrees 3 months ago, now between 30-35 degrees). Her doctor basically told me that altho he’s conservative and doesn’t want to throw children into the OR if there’s something else that could be done, we also can’t stand by and just let her get worse. He reduced the alternative patching schedule to 2 hours a day instead of 4, and said if she doesn’t show an improvement by the next visit in 3 months, we’re going to glasses which would force her to work to focus in her eyes, and if that doesn’t work, then surgery.
I should’ve known better than to try to circumvent the Universe. Rebecca had already told me when Allie first started having this out-turn, that she’ll be fine and there won’t be any long-term consequences, but we’d have to patch her for a little bit. I thought I could avoid it but Rebecca’s record is sky-high. 🙁
So today is Day 1 of serious patching therapy. After her dance class, the plan was to let her pick out some stickers at a party store. Then we were going home so she could select a sticker to put on an eye patch. Then we were gonna affix the eye patch and she would wear it while watching any movie she wanted (a rarity since we try to keep her off the TV). “Yeah! That sounds good!” she told us. So that’s what we did. And she kept the patch on for 1 hour 23 minutes, altho at about the 1 hour point she’d asked to remove it “because I can’t see.” We told her if she took it off, we’d immediately turn the movie off. 10 minutes later, she asked to turn the movie off so she could watch it later, rubbing her eye patch. I asked her to keep it on for a few more minutes. We managed to push it much longer than I dreamed for her first time. But now she said, “I don’t like the eye patch.” So we’re likely looking at 10-15 minutes for the future patching. The doctor said that even that’s better than nothing, and to just do it as long as we could even if we don’t meet the 2 hours.
So this third item is a work in progress.


I have a funny little girl. She’s forever trying to make us laugh. Even when she does something that goes against my parenting interests, it’s hard not to accidentally encourage her.
We were out having dinner at Buca di Beppo with the family of one of Mr. W’s oldest friends, and Allie insisted on getting out of the booth where she was trapped between Mr. W and me in a booster seat. I acquiesced because she’d been in there for hours. The moment her feet hit the floor, she took off. I went around the tables after her and she giggled, but took my hand and led the way back to our table. Before we got there, she suddenly slid into the booth of another table, in front of a startled-looking young man whose date or girlfriend had left momentarily. “Allie! That’s not our table!” I said, pulling her off the seat.
“I’m funny!” she said, continuing on our journey.
“That’s not fun– Hey! That’s not our seat either!” I pulled a self-amused grinning Allie out of yet another booth, although this time thankfully the booth was empty.
“I’m funny AGAIN!” she announced.
The same week, Mr. W and I were with her at a Selma’s Chicago Pizzeria where Allie was munching on a dinner roll as we waited for our food to arrive. Suddenly she chucked a chunk of bread at me.
“Allie!” I said sternly, surprised at her uncommon misbehavior. “That’s not nice. We don’t throw food.”
Wearing a huge smile, she said, “I’m funny!”
“No, you’re not funny. Don’t do that again.”
The smile only faded a little as she insisted, “I’m funny a LITTLE bit.”
Mr. W had the luxury of being able to laugh since she had her back to him and was facing me. I had to keep my face straight and serious.

I see the 2s as an age when her emotions have developed enough that she feels things very strongly, but her immaturity and inexperience keeps her from being able to evaluate what is an appropriate level of response to a situation or stimulus. Hence, tantrums. For example, she sees a glass item that catches her eye and she wants to hold it, examine it in her hand. We don’t want her to hold glass, so we don’t allow it. Her response is to instantly wail because she is SO disappointed and she wants it SO badly and she’s SO curious about the item. Anyone would feel the same way, but as adults, we are able to say that in the realm of things, this isn’t a big deal and thus we aren’t heartbroken over the denial. She doesn’t have a range of experiences to know that this is small beans, so it’s a BIG DEAL. However, I have yet to discipline her because I’m usually able to reason her out of things. I lower my voice and say to her very seriously, “Allie, listen to me. This is made of glass, and glass is not for little kids. If you drop it, it will break, and you will get hurt.”
She’ll usually stop wailing to listen to me and she’ll acknowledge with a head-shake and a, “That’s not for little kids. No.”
I’ll offer a compromise. “You can look at it, but you can’t touch it. Okay?”
“Yeah.” She’s instantly mollified.
I pick her up to look at it. She examines it visually and sticks to her word. Sometimes the compromise is, “You can smell it, but you can’t put it in your mouth.” “One last video clip, you get to pick, and after that we go take a bath, and you don’t cry.” “Eat the last carrot, and I’ll go get you more cheese.” She’s pretty much always reasonable and trustworthy when she agrees to something.
The largest hurdle these days on the wailing front is leaving somewhere she’s not ready to leave yet — the house, the grocery store, the park, a shop in the mall. She’s too upset to listen when we explain it to her so we just have to pick her up and carry her off loudly protesting. “Nooo, I don’t wanna leave! Dada put me down! Stop, dada, stop!” And then she’ll try another strategy. “I wanna walk! I wanna walk!” We’ve learned that before she’s out of the protest mode, not to put her down or she’ll just take off back to where we’d dragged her out of. So she’ll try, “Mama hold Allie, not dada! Mama wanna hold Allie! I want mama!” And then she’d try to wriggle out of my hold, hoping I’m less resistant than dada. If she’s bad, we just won’t address her crying anymore and ignore it. If we’re somewhere private like in our house or in our car and she’s strapped in safely in the carseat or high chair, I’ll tell her, “Okay, you go ahead and cry, I’ll wait for you to finish and when you’re good, I’ll come back/talk to you again.” Then I’ll break eye contact and placidly step away or look away. The tantrum hasn’t lasted more than 10 seconds after we do that. It ends with her saying, “I’m all done now. I be good. Mama are you happy?” Today in the car, she wailed her protest about not wanting to go home. After talking to her went unheeded, I told her I’m going to wait until she’s done before I address her again and I looked out the window, ignoring her attempts to get me to pay attention to her again. That fit quickly ended with, “I’m almost good. [3 more seconds of wailing] I’m good now. [smile at me]”
“You’re all done?”
“I’m nice now.” And she was.

Funny girl.

The above is literally my first photo ever with Santa. Allie’s second time taking photos with Santa, so she’s already got me beat.

My parents had come over the weekend before to do a pre-Christmas thing so we’d already unwrapped some presents. My parents got us all sweaters from Old Navy, and Allie got a great cat keyboard that incorporates karaoke with an attached microphone and different keyboard sounds (one being cats meowing in the key[s] of the note[s] hit), from my grandma. Allie loved it and kept giggling playing with it. Christmas morning, since the stepkidlets wanted to do an afternoon thing, Mr. W, Allie and I went to my parents’ house and Allie got to play with her great-grandma. We came back for her nap, during which time the stepson came over, and the stepkidlets and I hung out with the stepdaughter’s room while Allie and her dada napped, as very young and, uh, old people tend to do. =P

After Allie’s nap, there was more present-opening. Allie is less dainty about ripping the wrapping paper than she was last year. She just needs a good grip, sometimes with assistance, and then it’s a big sweeping motion with each arm, leaving scrap remnants on either side of her. She was so excited getting 2 more dolls from her grandparents and nanny Auntie Jayne that she lost interest in the clothing she was unwrapping from other people. Before the dolls came into the picture, when she unwrapped clothes, she’d put it up against herself, and ask her to help her “put it on Allie.” For example, this Minnie chef outfit that her grandparents (Mr. W’s parents) sent her. This set also came with a matching oven mit (not pictured because we hadn’t unwrapped it yet when we took this photo). It was perfect for Allie when she “cooked” in her play kitchen. We’d never seen anything like it, which we later discovered was because Mr. W’s mother made this outfit from scratch herself!

Also among her grandparents’ present was a giggling and bouncing baby doll. When Allie popped open the box and saw a bit of the doll, she gasped and said as if in disbelief, “It’s a baby doll!” You’d think she didn’t already have a baby dolly, 6 Disney princess dolls, and countless stuffed animals. Auntie Jayne also got her a play-stroller for the doll, which Dada put together right away. The moment that was done, Allie refused to open more presents and instead pushed her new dolly around in the tinkling stroller around and around in the kitchen and hallway. Despite our inability to see her (cuz she refused to return to the living room), we knew she was alive because we could hear the rattles and clickers incorporated into the play-stroller making noise for…well, it was a long time. Nonstop.

The stepkidlets joint-purchased us a really neat photo frame made up of lots of other frames put together in different sizes and directions, with an attached typewritten letter that the plan was to take professional family photos together and fill the frames. “This will be the last photos we can take as just the 5 of us because come August, we will have a bearded German,” she explains in her letter. The letter opens with her expressing her gratitude for living with us and having us in her life, supporting her. She has a section of her two-page letter that was addressed specifically to me that they made me read aloud, which wasn’t nice because it made me cry. To commemorate in case the unsentimental Mr. W tosses the letter:

Cindy, I just wanted to let you know that I have noticed over the past two years that I tell everyone “on yeah, my parents…my parents this…my parents that…” Because it truly wouldn’t feel right to just say “my stepmom” after all that you have done and continue to do for me. You’re a huge part of my life and my story and I love you so much! Thank you for taking my dad in (haha!) and loving him and his kids from day one. And thank you for giving me the best gift EVER — my little sister! 🙂

It was a really nice evening. Everyone got to hang out, stepson even caught me up on his love life and decisions, and stayed to hang out way later than he’d originally planned to. It didn’t even matter that much that Allie refused to eat her meal at McCormick & Schmick’s (she ate much of her fruit plate and much of my veggies, altho she refused to eat her own cheeseburger) and is in a “difficult time” right now, very emotional when she isn’t allowed to do some small thing, such as run amok in the restaurant while other patrons are trying to enjoy their dinner.

As you can tell, we ate out a lot. I really do want to do my own cooking and have a family gathering, or at least make a dish to participate in one elsewhere…someday. Just not while Allie’s still got her midday nap going. =P (That’s my excuse and I’m sticking to it.)

I’m going to post 2 photos from the afternoon with the stepkidlets. Look at the adoring gazes. What’s the focus of everyone’s attention?

That’s right. Those darn ipads.

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