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.

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.)

(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. :'(

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.

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.

Mr. W has said before that he’s “always” gotten into trouble for his exaggerations. For saying things like, “You always…”, “You never…” etc. I’ve yelled at him before for that, too. I don’t like being accused of things that aren’t true and 2 times does not an “always” make.

Earlier this evening, we had dinner with Allie at Claim Jumper. Allie spent a good part of the time chanting about wanting to get out of her high chair, and/or to go outside and play. “Allie can’t get out. Allie can’t get out. Allie go outside. Allie go outside.” We didn’t cave. Suddenly, she said sadly, “Allie never never go outside. Never never never go outside. Allie never never go outside.” I told her to stop exaggerating, she’s outside plenty.

Then on the walk home, she pointed at stores we passed and said, “Allie never go in there. Allie never go in THERE. Allie want ice cream. Allie never eat ice cream. Allie never go in there.”
In amazement and awe, Mr. W asked me, “Where did she learn that?”
I looked at him incredulously and said, “From YOU!”

They’re always listening, parents. Always always always.

P.S. Today marks her least nutritious meal she’s ever had: restaurant chicken nuggets (but made with real chunks of chicken breast), mac-n-cheese, bits of carrots/peas/potato from my chicken pot pie, and a few pieces of shoestring fries. I took 80% of the fries off her plate and gave them to Mr. W. She did eat grapes, honeydew and cantaloupe for dessert, though. She tried the fries and said, “Allie like it.” She said the same thing about a tiny bite of her dada’s pickle. Crap. Well, she’s almost 2 years old, I suppose it’s inevitable that she try some of this junk, but it’s so high in sodium and so low in nutrition that I felt like the shittiest mom in the world when she stopped mid-walk on the way back and said with a sad little frown, “Allie’s tummy hurt.” I hope it was just because she was running and jumping so soon after she ate, and not because she ate total garbage. 🙁

My cousin Jennifer told me about a Groupon for a photography session where an out-of-state studio, Portrait Scene, dispatches a bunch of photographers in different locations all over the country and does photoshoots by appointment in outdoor locations. The reviews weren’t that solid for the company, but I figure, it was just $20. Even if it were mass-quantity, mall shop quality, it’s fine for $20. The package includes an 8×10 print, two 5×7 prints, four 4×5 prints, eight wallet prints (presumably all 1 pose), plus a CD of digital proofs of other images that we can order from in the future. I made my appointment and Jennifer’s appointment back-to-back and that was Saturday morning. (I’d timed it so that we’d have photos ready in plenty of time to make photo holiday cards, plus it was shortly before both girls’ 2nd birthday [1 day before Alexandra’s; 2 months before Allie’s] so they were also great year-marker photos.) We had selected Mason Regional Park for our location (there were 2 locations near us to choose from). There were 2 photographers on-site, doing photoshoot after photoshoot by half-hour increments from morning through evening. Our photographer, Sasha, was GREAT with kids, and after doing our family shoot, and after finishing Jennifer’s family’s shoot, she called us in together and did a dual-family session for no extra cost. I can’t wait to see the photos, since she had us in some really cute poses (and I noticed our poses were different from Jennifer’s poses). They will be ready to view online in 10 days.

While we waited for Jennifer’s shoot to finish, we goofed off and took some of our own on my cameraphone. Here are some favorites:

Allie with Dada. She’s waving to me and saying, “Hi, Mama.”

Allie with Mama. If it looks like I’m in mid-jump, it’s because I am. It makes her laugh.

A series that I made into a collage. Spinning, spinning, until one of us got dizzy or broke an ankle. Guess who was risking breaking her ankle.

Since I was playing with collages on my phone, I discovered “filters.” This is an antique filter. Very cool effect.

Here’s one I took over the photographer’s head. It’s just hilarious because the dadas were trying so hard and the girls look…seriously unimpressed. Typical. Haha!

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