Allie had a fun long weekend. On Saturday, she met one of my District Attorney friends and his CSI girlfriend. Allie took to them rather quickly and now refers to them as “my friends,” as in, “Where my friends go, mama? They come back later?” But most of all, Allie bonded with the girlfriend’s miniature Shih-tzu mix, Zoe, who was brought along as a surprise for Allie. This is the quietest, sweetest 2-year-old puppy. We even snuck her to the Lake and she just hung out in her hidden bag and no one was the wiser. After the Lake (we’d planned to kayak but got there after the 4pm rental cut-off that we didn’t know about, bummer!), we had sushi at our favorite Lake sushi restaurant. The awesome sushi chef prepped stuff for Allie like a baby omakase, which Allie ate voraciously. A small bowl of plain udon; a veggie roll of asparagus, tofu, avocado in soy paper; 2 strawberries cut like roses; an orange; and the best thing, a plate of baby shrimp, maguro tuna, salmon, yellowtail, and salmon roe nigiris! She finished everything except the salmon roe, which was likely too salty for her taste. After dinner, Allie asked my friend’s girlfriend if she could have Zoe’s leash, so my two-year-old ended up walking a two-year-old puppy. Adorable! Zoe seemed to love her, too, preferring to sit with her forepaws and chin on Allie’s leg in the car.

Sunday, my parents came over in the afternoon and we all went to the Santa Ana Zoo. Allie was more interested in running around than in looking at the animals. It’s probably an age thing. On the drive back, my mom and Allie chatted about what Allie had for dinner.
Mom: And what else you have? You eat broccori, right?
Allie: No. I didn’t eat broccori.
Mom: You eat chicken and broccori for dinner.
Allie: No, it’s not broccori, I ate broccoLI!
I couldn’t control my snicker. That’s my kid, correcting mom’s Chinglish. =P

Monday was Presidents’ Day holiday. What better way to celebrate than heading over to the Americana capital of Disneyland?
It was a sad Dland day, though, as everything Allie wanted to ride was closed: Small World, Little Mermaid, Finding Nemo, some other stuff, so we just rode the Golden Zephyr in CA Adventure and the Disneyland train around once and went home, promising her that next time will be better. She asked for the Peter Pan ride, but that already had a 30 minute wait (WHY does that ride always a 30+ min wait even immediately after the park opens?), and same with the Alice in Wonderland ride she’d requested. Poor kid.

Another bit of fun this weekend: Allie was digging around in the zen garden at our front yard (it’s become her sand pit) and found a snail shell. She picked it up, peered inside and observed, “Snail not in there.” Then she placed it carefully on the low wall ledge and explained to her Dada, “I put it here so the snail can come back inside later.” How nice! 😀

BTW, I love Allie’s little pronunciation quirks. Rs sound like Ws, THs sound like Ds, Vs sound like Bs. She sounds a little British sometimes.

I’ve been sick. I’m pretty sure I was exposed to coworkers’ ailments (they’re dropping like flies around work) mid-week 2 weeks ago. Then that Friday, I went for a run at 8:30p which ordinarily would’ve been fine, but it was so cold that night out that I considered turning around about a mile in. I didn’t; I pushed it the full 4.5 miles, and when I came home, instead of jumping into the shower right away, I played on the computer until I was actually cold. Bad idea. Dropped my body temperature enough for the vicious bug to take hold.
So the very next day, I had a sore left tonsil. It was a Saturday. And the day after that on Sunday, major swollen tonsils on both sides, raging fever, body aches and pains, skin pain, scalp pain, bone and joint pain, eye pain…everything hurt. But we had a belated Chinese New Year dinner planned at my parents’ and I know they were looking forward to it, and my grandma was going to be there, so after hitting Disneyland in the morning, after Allie’s nap we went to my parents’.
I was pretty useless at my parents’ and spent the evening on their living room couch incidentally watching a crappy Super Bowl game because I was too weak and in too much pain to change the channel that Mr. W turned on. I didn’t have dinner, but I did have a couple of bowls of soup. Everyone else took care of Allie so I even got a nap in. That was nice.
Here’s Allie with her po-po and gong-gong, double-fisting homemade rice cake.

And here she is with tai-po, her great-grandma.

The next day, Monday, the fever was gone so I went to work. But my throat was still killing me. Tuesday, the coughing set in. Wednesday, same but worse. I would’ve called in except that we got some new-fangled type of trial (an expedited civil jury trial) that I didn’t trust a relief clerk to handle, knowing how exacting my judge is. But it was bad enough for me that I called and got an appointment with my primary care doc for the next morning.
My primary, Dr. Ta, said it was an upper respiratory infection at this point but that the virus just had to run its course, which would take about 2 weeks, and until then there’s not much we can do except symptom-control. I turned down his offer for a codeine cough syrup, saying I had to be able to drive and can’t be drowsy at work. I brought up coworkers’ recommendation of over-the-counter Mucinex. He said what’s better is Dayquil, since it already has Mucinex in it plus other good stuff. So I got the drugs, took 2 doses of it over the course of the day…and it made zero dent on my symptoms. The stuff I was blowing out of my nose was still brown-green-yellow. (Sorry for the visual.)
The next morning, my left eye appeared to have pinkeye. It was bloodshot and was draining sticky mucus. (Sorry for the visual.) It didn’t feel any different, wasn’t itchy or irritated, but pinkeye is very contagious so I figured I picked it up while I was at the doctor’s the day before and need meds for it pronto. I went back and since my regular doc wasn’t available, took an appointment with a new doc, Dr. Abarca.
Man, was that experience different. He ran a throat culture to rule out strep throat and personally ran it down to the lab, returning in about 15-20 mins with the results. Not strep throat. I’d told him my concern was the eye and I’d already seen the doctor about the illness the day before, but he rechecked me anyway. He said the eye was the same infection spreading upward. Listening to my lungs, he explained that he wasn’t x-raying me for pneumonia (I didn’t even know that was an option) because the human ear can pick up the pneumonia giveaway of the fine crackling sound of the lungs 2 days before pneumonia is severe enough to show up in a chest x-ray. That being said, he diagnosed bronchitis and said my lower lungs are clear so it wasn’t pneumonia…yet. But because I’m not getting better, and this was day 6-7 of the disease, he doesn’t want to sit around and watch to see whether I was getting better or worse, whether the infection was on its way out or on its way into the lower lungs to become pneumonia. He wrote me prescriptions for antibiotic Amoxicillin, which in the past has only given me yeast infections (sorry for the visual), for Benzonatate, which he said was like Mucinex but better, and for the Cheratussin, the codeine cough syrup. I was instructed to take the tiny Benzonatate gel caps in the day (non-drowsy), and Cheratussin at night for symptom control. He said I should be having a better weekend. He also directed me to get an eyewash from the pharmacy and rinse out both eyes with the borate/sodium-chloride solution 3x/day, which turned out not to be as freaky as I thought it was going to be, when used with the eye cup. It wasn’t until after I got home and read his typed-up after-care instructions, that I saw he had a lot more stuff that he didn’t even talk to me about (probably cuz it’s not Western medicine and some patients may have issues with it): 500 mg Cayenne capsule supplement, one daily; 10 drops oregano oil in a warm cup of water, gargle and swallow 3x/daily; zinc lozenges, one every 3 hrs; 2000mg vitamin C daily. I’m doing it all, plus extra vitamin D. So this doc’s having me hit the bugs from the outside with drugs, and from the inside with natural immunity boosters.
3 days later now, I’m still coughing, but whatever I’m spitting up is lighter, both in color and consistency (sorry for the visual). Beginning issues in the right eye has gone away, and the left eye is 80% better. Thank goodness I’d decided the day the eye thing first happened (without knowing it was happening) that Allie is now old enough to not grab my eyeglasses and I can not wear contacts for the first time in almost 2 years. I can’t tell how the other symptoms are going, because I’m perpetually drugged up. I have no problem with that for now, altho I’ll have to put the probiotics back in after the antibiotics course is done.
I’m considering switching primary care docs.

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 was reminiscing about Bru Grill‘s Cincinnati Lunch Box (chilled hefeweizen, orange juice, Amaretto) on the drive home yesterday, so since the stepkidlet was in for the evening, we put Allie in bed, the stepkidlet in charge and went out for a drink. The last I saw of the stepkidlet before we left was her carrying Allie’s iPad into her room so that she could keep an eye on Allie via the babycam while the stepkidlet hung out in her own room.

Sitting at the bar at Bru, I found it amusing that I’d forgotten to wear my wedding rings and Mr. W didn’t, so that we looked scandalous together. Like, “Hey, that one married guy is hanging out with his younger Asian secretary!”

Soon we got a series of text messages and photos from the stepkidlet…

“Allie and I are having a great time together!”

I responded, “She looks so excited!”

She texted again:
“Oh hahaha stop it Allie, you’re too funny…”

“Alright Allie I’ll go to sleep now too…”

“Nope just kidding! Silly faces!!!”

By now we had already finished grocery shopping, filling up on gas, and were coming home (we take full advantage of our date hour), and Mr. W was driving. He said, “Tell her all right, she’s having too much fun, we’re coming home.” So I texted, “Ur dad said, ‘all right, ur having too much fun. we’re coming home.'”
She texted me back, “HAHAHAHA ok ok I’ll leave you guys be. Enjoy!”
I texted, “nope, too late…we’re leaving to break up that party u two have going on.”
And then I got this:

“Thanks a lot Allie. You got us in trouble…”

This morning I woke up with my face and eyelids all puffy, and I stepped on the scale and it appears I’d put on 3 lbs and 1% bodyfat. What the heck?! Coming in to work, a coworker informed me, “Beer does that.” I didn’t know that! Beer makes people all bloated? Why do women drink beer? I’ll never touch the stuff again. It’s not even that good. =P

I had my annual exam with my ob-gyn yesterday. I was a little intimidated going in, because this is the guy who gave me a few mini lectures about gaining too much weight during my pregnancy, and how OC women overeat and the myth of doubling calories to feed a pregnant body. I only blew his maximum pregnancy weight gain by 5 lbs (I think I gained like 35) which he actually wasn’t that concerned about toward the end, and he was happy with my weight loss and all that in the post-pregnancy checkups, so I don’t know why I was still that concerned. He didn’t mention weight at all, and just asked how I was generally feeling about everything. I told him that I feel like after I stopped nursing, the fat just flew on. I now have fat rolls where I’d never had fat rolls before. He smiled and said that there is nothing disconcerting about my current physical state, and that he considers me “skinny” (which is WEIRD). He said, “You are probably the last patient that I’ll see today to whom I would say, ‘We need to talk about your weight.'” He said the difficulty I’m having in losing weight is more in my head than actuality, and that if more patients had my BMI (he’d guessed 20, but turned out it was a little over 22), the medical industry would save a lot of money. He said my only issue is a body image issue.
I did finally take my stats yesterday after Mr. W replaced the batteries in our Tanita scale. I was thinking that I need to drop 15 lbs before mid-March (we’ve got a Hawaii vacation planned), expecting my weight to be in the 130s. I weighed in at 120. My hydration was low, at 55%, and my body fat was at 23%. That’s just 1% over my old goal, so I couldn’t understand why I was looking at such grossness in the mirror. Then the lean muscle mass measurement came in at 38 pounds. THAT makes sense; at the peak of my fitness, I had more like 43 lbs of lean muscle, so of course I’d look less toned. I need to put 4-5 lbs of muscle back on and drop my fat a few percent, which would probably only end up being a net loss of 4-5 lbs on the scale. I’d be okay with that.
So my new theory is that the body DOES add new fat cells in places fat cells had never existed before, but that this LOOKS worse than it had before because the skin’s looser, so things aren’t as compressed.

After the doctor’s, I went to a hair appointment. This guy was recommended by my former court reporter, who had been going to him since something like 1991. The salon was only a few miles from my house. It was interesting having a tattooed Harley-Davidson enthusiast do my hair, and he was very nice, detailed, patient. I basically went in and said, “You’re the expert. I look like a cavewoman. Do whatever you think is good.” He was all happy he got to pop my cherry, as he put it, in getting a color weave done. It was a painstaking process in which he brushed on highlights in select strands of hair throughout the top half of my head and then wrapped it in foil.

After the color developed, he suggested long layers, and I said okay, fine, whatever. Then he changed his mind and asked if it’s okay if he did a clean blunt cut. I said okay, fine, whatever. As he approached the front of my head during the cut, he asked how I feel about bangs. I said okay, fine, whatever. So here’s what happened after being there over 2 hours:

At first I was like, “This looks like Cleopatra.” But I guess it’s not THAT short. And the color will take a little getting used to. People seem to like it. Either that, or they’re just being nice. Here’s a close-up of how he did the coloring.

I love the honey color of the streaks, but I wondered if it looked too much like I had a bunch of silver hairs that didn’t quite take to color just right. My roots are still black, tho. As we finished up, he teased, “So am I gonna see you in another 3 years?” Yes, yes, the color he cut off the bottom was from the frustrating dye job(s) I got for college roommie’s wedding in January 2011. My exterior maintenance is pretty neglected. I asked him ideally, how often would I need to come back? He said if I want to maintain the look, every 3 months. Otherwise he’d have to start from scratch if I don’t return for another 3 years. If I return regularly, he just touches up the roots. 3 months isn’t bad; I was thinking he was gonna tell me 6 weeks or something. I thought his prices were a steal at $120, so I tipped him $25.

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.

Funny thing about the below photo. I thought we were sitting in the correct section because of the “Well Child Waiting Area” sign, and we were there for Allie’s Well Child 2 Year Appointment. And then I turned at some point and looked at the adjacent waiting area and saw that the sign there read, “Sick Child Waiting Area.” Oh. But we were in the correct area anyway, just for a different reason.

Turns out there were no vaccinations needed at Allie’s appointment, yay! She’s all up to date with her shots, and her next vaccination is at age 4. Aside from the flu annual flu shot, that is.

Her stats:
Height – 3 feet 0.81 inches (93.5 cm), 99th percentile
Weight – 27 pounds 6.6 ounces (12.4 kg), 59th percentile
Head circumference – 18.5 inches (47 cm)
Shoe size – between 7.5 and 8 toddler (I know this isn’t a doctor-related measurement, but she’s got big feet!)

The doctor said her weight is above average, but because of her towering height, she looks slim. However, he’s convinced she’s a healthy child. On nutrition, he’s happy with her continuing ability to eat her veggies and fruit and not candy and junk food, and warned me that most 2-4 year olds are dairy and carb fiends, so to watch out for that. I’m to switch her to 2% milk now, we’re done with the whole milk.
She’s well ahead in her speech (they’re looking for a 20-word vocabulary and the ability to put 2-3 word sentences together, and Allie was telling her doctor about the log ride at Knott’s she went on and how there were lots of people on the ride) so he’s not concerned about her mental or oral development. (She currently pronounces her “v”s like “b”s, i.e. “I neber neber go in there.” I wonder how much of that is because she’s compensating for the missing pieces of her front teeth. But then she also pronounces her “r”s like “w”s. “Mama’s puwse is hebby.”)
I asked him about some dry patches on her scalp that she occasionally scratches, and he said it’s just seasonal dryness and to use Neutrogena T-gel shampoo if she continues to be itchy, but it’s not eczema or I would’ve seen it start behind her knees and in her elbows (at which point in the exam Allie pointed to her knees and inspected the crook of her elbow).
Apparently I’m to start a pea-sized dot of fluoride toothpaste with her brushings now. He didn’t seem concerned that I wasn’t using toothpaste. We still brush morning and night, and floss nightly.
It was a pretty quick appointment, and Allie got a big princess sticker at the end that she correctly identified as Belle from “Beauty and the Beast.” We spent more time waiting than actually getting examined, and it helped that Allie was, as usual, super-cooperative at the doctor’s office. The nurses are always happy to work with her.
Since we’d spent so much time waiting, we sang songs together, one of which was Jingle Bells. I was surprised that she sang the entire song with me at the same time, which means she knows all the words. I whipped out my cameraphone and tried to capture this, and of course by now she had lost interest in repeating the same song. So this is what I got instead.

I would’ve preferred more Allie and less me, but oh, well.

On our drive back home, I handed Allie one of her little plastic bowls with a handful of cashews in it. (She LOVES nuts and will ask for cashews specifically.) She munched on her snack while I drove and sung and hummed along to Christmas music on the radio, and pointed out things outside the windows. I don’t drive my sports car very much these days, so I forget how much torque that thing has compared to the Prius V that I’m used to driving daily. While Allie was happily eating cashews in the backseat, the light turned green and I stepped on the gas to go, and I was more heavy-footed than I’d intended. The car surged forward and I heard the bowl hit my leather seat and sounds of many lighter objects raining on the seat immediately followed. Oops.
From the backseat, a little voice. “I spilled it…I spilled the bowl, mama.”
“You spilled it? Uh-oh! You dropped the bowl?”
“Yah. Nuts all over place. Allie’s all messy.”
I marveled at how Allie didn’t blame me for that, but it really was my fault.

We were blacked out from Disneyland on our limited annual passes for the entire holiday weekend, but Mr. W found another option: Knott’s Berry Farm! Turns out that we could get in free until January, so after Allie’s nap, we announced that we had a “surprise” for her.
She’d been wanting to go on trains and buses every time she saw them pass by, and Knott’s, which is presently decked out for the holidays and is calling themselves “Knott’s Merry Farm,” has lots of trains. That’s the first ride we went on.

And the next ride was Snoopy’s bus, which went around like a super-fast Ferris wheel.

Allie was excited to go on this ride, but afterwards, decided she didn’t like it. “It’s too scary,” she said.
Soon we found the Knott’s version of Disneyland’s Teacup ride: spinning Mexican hot chocolate! It was WAY faster than teacups. Mr. W got a little green.

I don’t know why, but from the beginning, Mr. W was convinced Allie would be able to go on the “log ride” with us. This is a roller coaster with a steep wet drop at the end, so I was sure there would be a minimum height requirement. Turns out, we were both right, because at age 2, Allie meets the 36-inch requirement.

We did buy the original print, but I snapped this photo of the displayed image, as well.
Then, more trains! This is the Calico Mines train ride. It had started to get dark, and Knott’s was lighting up.

Knott’s had a real train from the early 19th century shipped in from out-of-state. Two cowboy-like robbers, kerchiefs over their faces, even walked through with revolvers demanding money at one point of the train ride. One man demanded of a young passenger sitting with his girlfriend, “Do you have money?” The guy replied, “No, I don’t have any money.” The robber nodded toward the girlfriend, “Does SHE have all your money?” The guy said, “Yeah, she does!” The robber said to his partner, “Come on, none of these men have their own money here,” and moved on to the next train car. Allie said that was “funny.”

In addition to historic trains, Knott’s has historic buildings transplanted from other states that people can wander into, too. In the Old West section of the amusement park, we found this old 19th Century schoolhouse, complete with the original desks and an actress-teacher.

Allie was so happy that “I went to school!”, having only heard about “school” in the context of where her big sister goes in the day.
Then, we stumbled upon Santa! Allie got to have her photo taken with Santa for the second day in a row, the second time she’s met him! I noted that I’ve never taken a photo with Santa (since I’m an Asian immigrant), so Mr. W had all 3 of us go in on this photo. It’s at home somewhere, waiting to be scanned. This Santa is much nicer. Genuine smiles at the kids, and he went out of his way to chat with them, asking Allie her name, what she wants for Christmas (she just stared at him uncomprehendingly cuz really, is there anything she’s lacking?), and even jovially asked us what we wanted for Christmas. I said I wanted Allie to eat more vegetables. Mr. W asked for retirement. Santa didn’t make us any promises.

We did, however, get a free elf hat for purchasing a photo with Santa. Allie fit right into the Wild Wild West theme of this section of Knott’s with her elf hat, as you can see.

We wrapped up the night with dinner at Mimi’s Cafe, Allie’s choice. “Nooo, not Coco’s! I want Mimi’s Restaurant!”

Incidentally, Mimi’s Cafe (altho not this particular one) is the first restaurant Mr. W and I went to when we started dating 8 years ago…not that he remembers that.

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.)

« Previous PageNext Page »