One day Anni was twirling and singing one of her original compositions.
"It's my gift!" she declared.
Dizzy, she fell with spectacular gracelessness.
Laying on her back on the tile floor she began flapping her arms and legs
as if she were making a snow angel.
"Falling down is also a gift!" says she.

Saturday, July 20, 2002

Anni the mess maker! Wednesday morning Anni woke up earlier than usual, 5:30 a.m. She turned on her fishy toy, which began playing its lullaby, and she seemed to settle back down to sleep after 10 minutes or so. At 6:30 she woke up raring to go. I went into her room to get her out of her crib and was greeted by the sight of poopy *everywhere*. Crime scene investigation offers this reconstruction of what must have happened. 5:30 a.m. : Wake up, turn on music from the fishy toy, and have a nice, big poop. 5:32 a.m. : Diaper is full. Overcome with an irresistable urge to remove diaper. 5:33 a.m. : Reach through legs of onesie, manage to undo diaper strips, and pull through the leg of onesie. 5: 34 a.m. : Empty contents of diaper onto crib sheet. Poke hands into interesting brown stuff. Fishy toy music shuts off. Reach up to turn music back on. Fun! Brown stuff gets all over fishy toy. Touch hands to all crib rails, wall behind crib, flower pull toy, farmyard animals toy, and rest of crib sheet. 5:38 a.m. : Have spread poo art in every reachable corner of crib. Getting bored. Pick up diaper and toss over the side of crib. Makes a lovely brown splat on the white carpet below. Examine the floor for a bit. Fishy toy music shuts off. Turn music back on again. 5:40 a.m. : Back to sleep. Exhausted, but happy with a good morning's work. Needless to say, Anni now wears pajamas with legs to bed, so she doesn't have such easy access to the diaper. I'm dreading the day that she figures out how to unsnap herself. Or maybe one poop exploration will be enough for her. Yeah, right. Thursday morning I was doing laundry. The laundry room is right next to the kitchen. Anni was in the kitchen, playing with the canned goods, so I went to the laundry room to put in the next load. As soon as I went into the laundry room, Anni made a beeline for the trash can (something mommy does not allow her to play with). She took the lid off and began systematically removing the trash. She didn't get very far before she discovered a box of cookies that I had thrown away. They were the lemon spritzers that I bought months ago on a whim, and which neither Joerg nor I particularly like. Unfortunately, I hadn't consulted Anni before throwing them away, and she clearly disapproved. She began to remove the cookies from the box (and must have sampled at least one, as her mouth was covered with powdered sugar). As the cookies were very crumbly and covered with powdered sugar, they made quite a mess. Anni must have determined that she needed to hide the cookies in all corners of the kitchen in order to save them from the trash, because it took me a good 15 minutes with the vacuum cleaner (and then mop) in order to find all the little crumbs. I guess she is definitely discovering her own independence. Friday morning she refused to come downstairs with me to have her breakfast. She wanted to play in her play room. As the play room is baby-proofed, I decided to let her have some time to play while I went downstairs to water my flowers that have come under spider mite attack recently. The play room window was open and I could hear Anni playing up there. Then it got quiet, and stayed quiet--never a good sign. Quiet usually means that she has found something so fun that all her concentration is taken up in its enjoyment. These things are usually not allowed by mommy and daddy. I ran upstairs, heart pounding. What trouble could she be getting into now? Had she unloaded the diaper genie? Was she squirting baby lotion all over the carpet? She wasn't in the play room. I looked around. All the other doors upstairs were closed, just as I had left them. I looked closer in the play room. No sign of her. The gate to the stairs had been locked when I came up. Now my heart was really going. Where was she??? I called out "Anni! Anni!" No reply. I looked in the ball pit. Not there. I looked behind the rocker. Not there. After a few panicked minutes, I found her. She had opened up the door to the guest room (the latch must not have engaged all the way, as she's not quite up to doorknobs yet. At least I hope not!) and then shut it behind her and was happily pounding away on the computer keyboard. She wasn't about to give herself away by answering when I called to her. What a stinker.

Thursday, July 18, 2002

7/11/02 Well we had our big trek to Chicago today, and Annika's got a clean bill of health. So we don't have to go back for a month, assuming all goes well. During clinic today, Anni amused all the hospital people by parading up and down the hall in only her diaper and sandals. She was carrying her little snack bag like a purse, and occasionally would stop to bend over and wipe off the floor with a Wet One wipe (I always keep plenty of them around for cleaning Anni's hands). So she's still got her cleaning obsession, but at least she's stopped licking floors. She also got a new book from the book lady who comes around giving kids books in the hospital. Anni got to choose the one that she wanted, and of course she chose the *absolute* weirdest one of all. It features a character called Pajama Sam, and the story involves being chased by a celery stalk and grapes, who talk like characters out of some 60s psychedelia film. Completely whacko. Of course we read it 15 times or so before leaving the hospital. Annika took a header out of her highchair tonight, and nearly gave me a heart attack, but she didn't hurt herself at all, amazingly enough. I had just fed her and went to the counter to get her meds when she took her dive. Luckily, she has the sense now to catch herself with her arms, so she didn't hit her head at all. In fact, after she caught herself with her arms, she did a perfect roll onto her back so that her arms didn't take too much stress, either. I hope this doesn't mean that a career as a stuntwoman is in her future. All that energy she has now is not always being used for good! Anni is also feeling Grandma Bond's influence! She is addicted to the chocolate chip coconut cookies that Mom always brings with her when she visits. I knew that she had enjoyed those cookies when Mom was here visiting last month, and so when we were in the hospital I thought I would bring Anni a treat and so I bought her mini Chips Ahoy cookies. To my surprise, she turned up her nose at them. It seems that she doesn't just want any old chocolate chip cookie, they have to be Grandma's favorite *coconut* chocolate chip cookie!
We made it home from Chicago yesterday night. We were pleasantly surprised to be sent home yesterday, but they said that she was obviously feeling too good to be hospitalized. We stopped on the way back at a filling station to take a break (Anni was going nuts in her car seat), and she found a stuffed monkey that she just wanted so much that of course we had to buy it. It kept her happy in the car for only about 5 minutes, but she's been carting it around quite a bit today. Anni is mainly overjoyed to be home to her extensive book collection. She is such a reader! Today she brought me the phone book and asked me to read it to her!! Although she is still not really talking, I taught her the sign language sign for "more", which she mainly uses to request more reading. Well, I'm off to give Anni her evening meds and then we're going to watch a PBS special called Children's Hospital, which is featuring the hospital where Anni was transplanted and will show a lot of her doctors (it's on Tuesdays at 8 around here).
6/8/02 Annika had her first play date today. It went very well. Stephanie is 7 months older than Annika, and is the daughter of Sheryl, a very nice woman in Biology at Joerg's university. I thought that the age difference would be a problem, especially since Anni is a little delayed for her age, but it worked out just fine. Annika had no problem sharing her toys; in fact, Stephanie was a little overwhelmed because Anni kept giving her everything! She definitely has the sharing thing down pat, and I hope that doesn't change, but I have the feeling that the concept of "mine" is probably going to occur to her sooner or later. Actually, Stephanie is just hitting the age where she doesn't want to share, so it worked out pretty well as Stephanie would grab something away from Anni and Anni would just beam at her. Stephanie is mainly around older kids, so that doesn't happen to her too often! Of course, her mother, Sheryl, was there, too, and she was very faithful about telling Stephanie that "she needed to do that over" when she grabbed something from Annika (making her give it back, and ask nicely) and made her practice giving things to Annika instead of always the other way around. Anni was just so excited to have another child around. She had so much fun that she fell asleep halfway through her lunch today. One minute she's eating chicken, the next she's slumped down in her highchair, snoring softly. There was a get-together in Wisconsin of lots of families of children with liver transplants or other serious liver problems last weekend. Joerg and I thought seriously about going, as it's not too often that you have a chance to meet so many people who have had a similar experience. We decided not to go, though, as we were just enjoying being at home so much, and also Anni's immune suppression is still a little high, due to the rejection episode that she had back in February (they can begin lowering 6 months after the episode). We're now *so* glad that we didn't go, as all the kids, and many parents, that went seem to have come down with a seriously nasty bug. 2 have been hospitalized. It's very sobering to realize that we'll always have this risk when we go to a large gathering. Anni got her first scratch from Hepburn today, but that hasn't done much to deter her. So Joerg and I are going to begin a program of nail clipping for the cats. It's good for them, too, as they can't scratch each other up as much when they play at night. Also, we spent this afternoon replacing screens in the windows that the cats scratched up over the past couple of years, and we really don't want to have to do it again soon. Our yard is finally beginning to look civilized. We have flowers in the pots outside, and the roses have been nicely pruned (and they're blooming like crazy,although they're not as fragrant this year for some reason--anyone know why roses might be more or less fragrant???). Our new little tree is finally beginning to look at home. It had a rough start, as the tree planters from the nursery accidentally planted my tree in the wrong yard. I noticed that they were putting in the wrong kind of tree in my yard, which is how the mistake was discovered. They had to go back and dig it up from the other yard, and it had an unhappy couple of days. Of course, the head of this new tree is nearly as big as that of the tree we've had in our front yard since moving into this house, so it's already a reasonably good-sized tree. We're looking forward to getting our playset into the backyard so that we can start planting trees around it in the back. In food news: Mom, I've discovered something that you are going to *love*. Edy's makes these frozen bars that are called "Whole Fruit Bars". Joerg likes the lemonade kind, and I usually get the strawberry. They're a lot lower in fat than ice cream. However, they now have a flavor that is the best ever: creamy coconut. I'm addicted to them. Also, I've begun cooking again, and I just discovered a new chicken dish that is wonderful. Joerg even liked it, even though the second main ingredient after chicken was spinach. And Joerg has always refused to eat spinach before. It's an Indian-spiced, curry-like dish. Really good. I did discover, though, that if you're going to deseed and chop fresh jalapenos, you should probably wear gloves. My hands were tingling for the next 4 hours after I cut them up!
6/1/02 Anni is now walking everywhere, with very little difficulty. She's really taken off, and doesn't fall much at all anymore. We went to the library this week, and I let her hold my hand and walk all the way through the library with me as I picked up my book. Of course, there were several other kids there and she was just so proud to be walking just like them. For Memorial Day, Joerg's Ph.D. advisor and his wife and two kids dropped by for lunch on their way home from visiting friends in Iowa. It was the first time that Annika's been able to get up close and interact with other kids (we of course made sure that the kids washed their hands, and that they hadn't been around any sick people in the last couple of days). Annika adored the 4-year-old girl, Tamar. She was practically crawling into her lap while Tamar was trying to eat her lunch. For days afterward, Anni was obsessed with the little chair where Tamar had sat to eat! We're going to try to let her be around more kids, although it scares us to death to let her get near kids, who carry so many communicable diseases. We called Chicago, and they told us to just not let her be in a crowd of kids, and to be sure that we had talked to the parents to make sure the kids are healthy, and wash her hands after she's done playing. Some of Anni's favorite things to do lately: --put socks on both her hands and run around the house waving her hands in front of herself like Godzilla --lay on her tummy and push herself backwards with her hands. Not a very effective way to get around, but she thinks it's hilarious. --make her silly face while walking (the silly face is when she scrunches her nose and eyes and leans her head back). Making the silly face while walking usually causes her to fall on her rear, which she also thinks is hilarious. --dump her food off her plate onto the tray of her high chair. Get rid of plate. Climb out of seat restraint and sit on the tray in the middle of food. Resume eating from this position. --take off pants. Now for a good story: Two nights ago, Joerg and I had just gone to bed and were beginning to drift off to sleep when we heard music coming from the baby monitor. This was not particularly surprising since Anni usually turns on her aquarium toy when she wakes up (it's a little crib toy in which fish swim around while a lullaby plays). However, she almost never wakes up in the middle of the night, so it was kind of surprising to hear the music. We were both pretty groggy, but awake still. Then she started talking, which woke us both up because she was making sounds that we had never heard her make before! It sounded like she was saying "Daddy" pretty clearly, and it sounded like she was talking to her toys. I thought, "wow, this is strange; maybe she's not so far behind as we thought in her speech, maybe she only practices it at night." This went on for a few minutes, and we were beginning to get concerned. Something just didn't sound right. It really didn't sound like Anni's voice, and Annika had certainly never made the sounds that we were hearing. There was a lot of static in the monitor (that often happens, the monitor is not the best and seems to be affected by bad weather and all sorts of things). I held the monitor up to my ear, and turned up the volume because it just didn't make any sense. Why did Anni sound so strange?At this point we were beginning to get freaked out. Then it suddenly hit me that the tune that I heard playing wasn't from Anni's aquarium toy at all. It was from her froggy toy. BUT HER FROGGY TOY WASN'T IN HER ROOM AT ALL!!!!! We were officially freaked. Joerg and I had just watched a scary movie in which part of the plot involves hearing ghosts through a baby monitor, and this just seemed to spooky for words. Joerg stood outside her door, but didn't hear anything, so I decided to go in. As quietly as possible, I opened her door. Anni was fine--still asleep. The baby monitor was plugged in, but Joerg was still hearing the baby voice through it in our room. I tiptoed in to take a closer look, and discovered that the light on the monitor in her room wasn't on. We have special baby-safe outlets in her room, and they sometimes cause the plug to come out, even when it appears to be in. I pushed the plug in further, the light came on, and the baby voice disappeared from the monitor in our room. As Joerg and I breathed a sigh of relief, we figured that our monitor must have been picking up a signal from one of our neighbors' nurseries, although that's never happened before. I went back to sleep, but I think Joerg was up for much of the night after that.
Annika update 5/21/02 The big news here is that Annika is walking! Of course, she's still doing the drunken sailor thing, and she's just as likely to fall on her rear as to make it to the place she intended to go, but she's walking! I've seen her walk all the way across her playroom, which is about 15 steps. She tends to walk better when we're not watching her (when she walked all the way across the playroom, I was secretly watching her from the hallway). If we're there, she sometimes gets too excited and topples over. I wish you all could see her now! She's turned into an extraordinarily happy girl. We call her "giggle girl" because that what she's doing most of the time, giggling! She's just so much fun to be around, and she's enjoying life so much. Therapy is going pretty well. The one place that she's still not making much progress is with her speech, but we're hoping that she'll start working on that a little more now that she's got the walking thing going.
4/12/02 I guess Annika is truly her daddy's girl. I mentioned in my last email that she has two favorite books that she constantly brings to us to read to her. When she carries these books to us, she makes the funniest little grunting noise (her way of requesting a favor??). Anyway, yesterday I heard her coming to me, making her little "read to me" grunt. I looked down expecting the Pudgy Peek-a-boo book. Instead, she had brought me "Empirismus, Logik, Mathematik" (Empiricism, Logic, and Mathematics). Needless to say, it didn't get read to her! Annika is being evaluated this week to see if she needs therapy to help her catch up. The occupational therapist came on Tuesday to check her fine motor skills. She said that she's about at the level of a 13-month-old there, so she doesn't qualify for therapy from the state for that (she would need to be at 12 1/2 month level, so she's just above it). However, when I told her that at 13 months she wasn't even rolling over because of her huge belly, she said that she thought she would be just fine, as she's made huge progress. The physical therapist came today, and told us that Annika definitely qualifies, as she's only at about 11-month level with her gross motor skills. She said that it looks like her main problem is her abdominal muscles, and she tried to show me some exercises to help Anni develop her muscles, but it turns out that Annika has gotten very good at avoiding using those muscles. So she said that we'll have to go slowly. However, she won't be able to walk until she gets those muscles strengthened (they're what allows you to stay balanced), so maybe that will be Anni's motivation. Tomorrow we do the speech therapist, and Tuesday a general developmental therapist will come. Annika has had a very good time with the two therapists who have come by. Of course, they're really good with kids and she has a fun time playing with them. We went to Chicago yesterday and Anni finally had her last I.V. removed. We celebrated tonight by giving her her first tub bath in a year (she had the bile drains placed the first of May last year, and she's had some tube or drain in her body ever since). She *loved* it! I wish you all could have heard her laughing as she splashed around. She finally got to put her ducky in the water where he belongs. Of course, an Anni story is never complete without some silly twist: she got so excited that she made a poo poo in the water. So we had to grab her out and clean her all over again!
4/8/02 I thought I'd let you know what's new around here. Annika is still doing great. She had been keeping a lovely schedule of going to bed around 8 and getting up at 6 or 6:30, and taking a 2 hour nap in the middle of the day. However, she has lately decided that she is too big for naps and fights sleeping in the middle of the day. I still get her to sleep for about 20 minutes in the afternoon, and maybe 15 in the morning. I tried putting her to bed earlier (7), but she didn't much like that. Instead, she goes to bed at 8 and gets up around 8 the next morning. Not too bad, I guess, but I liked the 2 hour nap in the middle of the day. I get the most work done then. Oh well. Annika has been driving us nuts lately with her favorite book. I say "driving us nuts", but we're actually really happy to see her doing such a normal kid thing. She would bring us this book called "The pudgy peek-a-boo book" over and over. I read it to her about 20 times in a row one day last week. My husband and I were stumped about her love of this book, as it didn't seem particularly clever or fun or cute, but she sure loves it. About the time that Joerg and I were getting really really sick of that book, she picked another favorite, "Das Schaf Rita" (Rita the Sheep). It was sent to us by friends in Germany. It includes the rhyme "Rita trinkt. Rita stinkt." (Rita drinks. And I bet you can figure out the second thing that Rita's doing!!!) It's a pretty funny book, but I bet that it loses its humor after the 500th reading. Right now we're just happy to have a break from Pudgy Peek-a-boo. So what else. Annika can climb up and down stairs now, and she knows how to climb off a bed safely (although I still supervise all these activities). Joerg says she's going to send us her therapist bill when she's diagnosed with obsessive-compulsive disorder later on in life. One of her favorite activities now is "cleaning". She "cleans" her hands and toys when she finds a Wet One within her reach. After the diaper change I have to give her a diaper wipe so that she can "clean" her diaper changing pad. If she gets hold of a wash cloth, she "cleans" her head. She even has to have her own alcohol pad to "clean" the end cap of her PICC line (her semi-permanent IV) after I flush it at night. I think it's pretty clear that mainly what she sees mommy doing is cleaning! She also loves to have the sterile gloves we use for dressing changes. She puts her hands into them and waves them about (yes, I watch her when she does this, too, so that she doesn't try to inhale the glove). I guess all this cleanliness is a far better cry than her previous habit, which was licking the floors. She seems to know what "No" means (it means hurry up and do it faster before mommy comes to stop you--ha ha). She clearly understands language a lot better than she produces it. She still only has 3 words: "ma" (me), "da" (dad or duck, depending on the situation), and "ga" (cat). We have several therapists coming by this week to evaluate her progress and recommend some exercises to help her catch up. Well, I guess I'd better cut this short (too late for short, I guess!). Joerg and I are doing fine, although Joerg is having some minor health issues. We're certainly looking forward to getting out a bit more once the weather warms. Annika's 3 month transplant anniversary was yesterday, and that's a big milestone. Once we hit 1 year, the chance that she'll have a major complication decreases significantly. Thanks again for all your prayers and encouragement over the past year!
Stories coming soon