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, December 21, 2002

Annika went to a Christmas party for transplant kids held at the Museum of Science and Industry in Chicago. She had a fantastic time!! We saw her favorite nurse from Children's, Beata. Beata also brought her daughter, Olivia, who is nearly Annika's age. We also saw Jayli, another girl around Anni's age, who has also had 2 transplants. We saw lots of people from our hospital stays, and there were a *lot* of kids there. Seeing so many children really got her excited. Then the entire museum was overstimulation overload: huge, colorful bubble tanks, a gigantic train set, a replica of an old town, airplanes hung from the ceiling, plus Christmas decorations everywhere, including all sorts of Christmas trees decorated with ornaments representing different countries. On top of that, she got to eat an entire bag of potato chips for dinner (I had given her a big bowl of veggies before we left for Chicago, anticipating that she would only have junk food at the party-- foresight!). I swear that she did not stop going at top speed the entire 2 hours we were there (well, except for the few seconds it took to stop and shove a chip in her mouth). Even when the director of Transplantation was making his big speech, Anni discovered that there was space at the front of the crowd (directly in front of the speaker's podium) for her to engage in high-speed twirling. As she was up there turning in circles with all her little heart, I contemplated grabbing her hand and pulling her back into the crowd, but I was afraid that doing so would set off tears that would be more distracting than her endless spinning. Also, as Dr. Whitington was noting in his speech how pleased he was to see so many kids looking so healthy, I figured, "what better example of good health than a 2-yr-old making herself ridiculously dizzy while simultaneously attempting to shove potato chips in her mouth?" So I just labelled her behavior a "visual aid" and let her go go go. Santa came to hand out toys once the speaker was finished, but Annika was no way no how going to stand still long enough in the line to go meet him. So she didn't get a gift from Santa, but I know she didn't miss it. She was the most excited I've seen her, ever. We finally had to leave as it was time for her evening meds. Because we had an appointment to see the Chicago docs the next morning, we just spent the night in Chicago at the transplant house. I knew we were going to be in trouble that night when we went to change her diaper in the restroom on our way out. Annika held relatively still for the diaper change, but she screamed her happy scream as loud as she could the entire time, enjoying the echo. We got to our room and were all ready for bed at 9pm (1 1/2 hours past her normal bedtime), but Anni was soooooo hyper that she couldn't go to sleep. Even calling her hyper is an understatement. She was standing up in her crib, jumping up and down, and doing more of her beloved twirling. She was pleased to see daddy sleeping in the bed near her, and let him know how pleased she was by shouting "Dada!" at the top of her lungs. I sang to her, we ignored her, we spoke sternly to her, but nothing helped. Finally at 11pm, I got her out of the crib and put her into bed next to me, wrapping my arms around her chest so she couldn't stand up or wriggle around. This, of course, brought on the most pitiful wailing you've ever heard. By 11:20 or so, she was asleep. I let her sleep in the bed next to me, for fear of waking her when I moved her to the crib. Joerg wanted to get up at 6am for our 8:30 appointment (he really hates to be late), but I was afraid that the alarm would wake up Annika when she could sleep for an extra hour while we showered and packed. So I kept waking up every 2 hours to check the time. Finally at 5:45 I woke and decided to just get up. I turned off the alarm (actually I unplugged the whole clock as I couldn't find the off switch, but never mind), and tried to sneak out of the bed. The instant the bed creaked, though, little Anni raised up her head, spotted me, and let out the sweetest little giggle you ever did hear. Then she lunged over and flung her head down on my chest. Of course, Anni's laugh woke up Joerg, and so we were all up with too little sleep. I went to take a shower, putting Anni over in her daddy's bed (twin beds only at the transplant house). She snoozed a bit more on her daddy's chest, but by 6:30 we were all up and ready to go. Luckily, there is a play room in the house, so we had plenty of activities to entertain her until our appointment. Surprisingly, she was on her best behavior all day, even through all her tests and examination by doctors. When we finally left Chicago at 1pm, she was completely exhausted and fell asleep before we even reached the highway.
12/02/02 Going out with Annika is so much fun! We often go take a walk through the mall with her on Sundays. Of course, this tradition is halted until after Christmas, as the malls are just too crowded to take her into right now. Actually, we have 2 malls in town, 1 of which is usually pretty quiet (its 2 anchor stores are Target and Hobby Lobby, so it's not exactly the fashionable center). At this time of year, though, even that one is probably a bit too busy. Anyhow, whenever we do go with Annika, we get the biggest smiles from everyone we pass. Anni is just so darn *happy* to be out and feeling good. You can just see it in her huge smile, which never leaves her face, and the way she practically bounces when she walks. OK, so I'm definitely the proud mommy, but she really seems to bring out the happy in everyone she passes. It's gotten even more ridiculously joyous lately, as she's discovered that waving at people as she passes them gets them to wave back at her and so now she travels through life waving and grinning from ear to ear like a homecoming queen in a parade of one. Anni's favorite game lately has been a variation on peek-a-boo in which, instead of covering her own eyes, she covers her daddy's eyes as he calls out, "Where's Anni? Anni, where are you??" She also loves walking backwards, and has even been riding her little push-car backwards. Joerg's father came for a visit over Thanksgiving. Although he had to go back home early, Anni really enjoyed meeting him. She climbed right onto his lap every morning, and eyed the cookies he had with his tea for breakfast. Of course, she always got one (or two). Annika was calling him Grandpa by the first evening ("Pa"). The first night after he left we were reading one of her books that has a picture of a dog wearing a white wig (it's a long story), and she pointed to the dog and called it "Pa". I guess white hair is now the crucial criterion for the name "Pa"!