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, August 17, 2002

Annika is quite the organization nut! She goes all through the house, first thing in the morning to make sure all the doors are shut and all the cabinet locks in place. If anything is out of order, she stands at the offending location and makes a very perturbed noise until mommy comes to fix it. If she finds stuff on the floor, she brings it to me and makes a little protesting noise until I take it and put it away. Every morning, as soon as the cats have finished their breakfast, she runs and picks up their food bowl to give to me to put away. After I take it, she turns around with a satisfied air and begins looking for other stuff that needs to be picked up. Of course, she has been known to take the bowl before it was empty, which hasn't done much to endear her to the cats. She also used to insist that the door to the basement be closed (it was the only door in the house to remain open, as the cats have their refuge down there). I would have to follow her around and reopen it after she would dutifully close it. As Annika did not tire of this game as quickly as I did, we finally had to buy an industrial strenth door stop to keep her from closing the door! Anni is also still a book nut. Lately, she has started insisting upon having a book to read while I change her diaper. She gets such a look of concentration on her face while examining each and every page, all the while with her naked butt in the air as I get her changed. Pretty funny sight. A couple of days ago, she insisted upon having a book while eating dinner. I did not approve of this at all, as I wasn't looking forward to spinach-covered Dr. Seuss, but then I realized that I often read while I eat (usually Joerg eats while I feed Anni, and then I eat after they're done) and so I've had to stop that practice. She also, then, agreed not to read while eating. Annika's bedtime ritual has been getting progressively more elaborate. It started with rocking in mommy's arms while I read (actually sang) one book (Miss Mary Mack) several times until she got sleepy. Then she decided that she would rather have several (usually around 10) books, each read one time. Then she decided that her stuffed Elmo needed to join us in the rocker, and in her crib when she went to sleep. Then she decided that her monkey also wanted in on storytime, and needed to go to sleep with her (this is the same monkey she fell in love with at the gas station). Now she has to have her stack of books, Elmo, monkey, *and* she has to have a pair of socks to put on her hands while being read to! Also, I have to sing "Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star" one time before putting her into her crib. As complicated as it sounds, the whole process only takes about 15 minutes, and then she doesn't cry or complain at all at being left in her crib. She usually listens to her fish toy attached to her crib a few times and then goes to sleep.
Annika gave us a scare yesterday! She was scheduled to go to Chicago for an ultrasound because at her last clinic visit one of her labs was elevated, and the doctor thought her spleen felt enlarged, a possible sign of a blood clot in her portal vein. Of course, this had us a bit nervous, as Annika's previous 2 transplants were brought on or hindered by blood clot complications. The night before we were to go, Annika threw a *huge* temper tantrum, brought on by mommy's attempt to clip her nails, and followed up by a refusal to eat her yogurt, take her medicine, or brush her teeth. This is not like Anni at all, but I thought that maybe it was about time she started throwing tantrums. The next morning (when we were to leave) Anni was still asleep an hour past her usual wake-up time. I had to go wake her up because it was time for her meds. She felt very warm, but didn't have a temperature. She acted like she was still extremely sleepy, which is also not normal for her. She ate a big breakfast, took her meds like a champ, and then threw everything up. When we saw that, we decided to pack a bag for Chicago, thinking that the chances were good that we would have bad news and end up staying there for at least the weekend. Anni slept the whole way to Chicago (also unusual), and she just felt warmer and warmer, although her temperature never got much above 100. The ultrasound took 2 1/2 hours! This was only making us more nervous, as people were coming and going, attempting to find the different arteries and veins. Anni was a perfect angel throughout the whole thing. She lay on her back, mostly still, and made her little noises. I read to her from a huge collection of books that I had brought, and she loved that. By the time the ultrasound was through, it was apparent that Annika was feeling *much* better. She was ready to run around all over the place, and she was giggling and laughing like her usual friendly self. The technicians told us that after some hunting, they had spotted flow in every major vein and artery, and that her spleen was no bigger than it was a month ago. Just to be safe, we took her over to have Brian, our transplant nurse, take a look at her. She had a lovely conversation with Brian while he peeked in her ears, felt her tummy and checked for lymph nodes, and then pronounced her to be looking good. So it was all a false alarm, but we certainly had a nerve-wracking drive to Chicago.

Saturday, August 10, 2002

Annika's latest new skill is throwing! Unfortunately, we discovered this because Anni was calmly lobbing little empty boxes waiting to be recycled at Hepburn while the poor cat was trying to eat dinner. Needless to say, she was promptly told "no" in the loudest, sternest voice possible and whisked away. When she returned to the same activity approximately 2 minutes later, Anni experienced her first "time-out." Daddy buckled her into her booster seat away from all toys. She spent her "punishment" time by entertaining herself with all the cool noises she could make. She's just too sweet, she doesn't even get upset when she's in trouble. Not that she doesn't throw the occasional temper, but they don't usually last too long and she is so flexible; she often justs finds something else to do when she's told "no." Despite the apparent failure of our attempt to punish Anni for throwing things at the cats, she has stopped doing it so maybe something did get through. (by the way, for all you cat lovers out there who are feeling Hepburn's pain, the cats *do* always have an escape route--the basement is set up completely for them with kitty toys and comfy furniture and Annika is blocked from following them down there) Annika's cutest new skill is dancing! Of course, dancing for her means bobbing up and down from her knees a little, completely out of time to the music, but it's so darn cute anyway. Looks like she got the dancing gene from her papa!!! ; - ) She is also experimenting with running, so we're back to bruiser boot camp again. We had about 2 weeks there where we got some photos with no black and blue marks, but she's once again wearing her badges. The physical therapist is concerned that she is too clever at figuring out ways to compensate and so her really weak areas (abdomen and hip muscles) aren't getting the workout that they need to develop, but we've found some new activities that she likes enough to do even though they're hard for her. She's working on climbing up her little slide in the playroom, and her rides in the wagon help her practice holding herself upright with her tummy muscles. She has also finally developed some real attachments to some of her toys. Every night she takes her little stuffed Elmo doll and her monkey (the one she picked out at the gas station) to bed with her. I finally figured out why those two became the new favorites. It's because they're featured in 2 of her favorite bed time books--Zoe and the Runaway Ball (Elmo helps Zoe find her ball) and the Curious George books (her monkey looks *just like* Curious George). Those 2 seem to be mainly bedtime friends, and she still likes her bears best during the day (she still gives them rides in the wagon, and now she also has them slide down her slide). We also just enjoyed a visit from my cousin, Cliff, who donated part of his liver for Anni's 2nd transplant. Anni came pretty close to saying "Cliff" by the time he left! She put him to work reading to her during his visit, and she now has an origami animal mobile hanging from her ceiling thanks to Cliff's artistic talent (we won't mention the results mommy came up with attempting to fold paper; let's just say that people can't be good at everything, right?)