Things have been very busy, a good busy, around here, which is why I haven't posted an update in a while. Annika is still tube-free, and feeling just great. We've had some excitement around here lately. The girls and I took our first trip alone last weekend. We drove up to the Martins in Rockford, which I thought was only an hour and a half away. It turned out to be two hours, but we made it. Since I usually ride in the back and play games with Annika on long car trips, I was worried how she would handle having to entertain herself, but she was fantastic. I put some crayons in a little suitcase (I know better than to leave her alone with markers--she'll come out of the car looking like an extra from Braveheart) and gave her a whole bag full of coloring books, stickers, and books to read. She was happy as a clam. Well, almost...she really wanted Frankie to be awake for the trip, too! I caught her tossing crayons over to Frankie and saying, "Wake up, Frankie, pleeeeeeeeeeez!!" I nipped that in the bud, and was thankful that I had put up the sun bonnet on the car seat, which blocked all of Anni's shots. I know, though, that if I ever put the two car seats within reaching distance of one another that Frankie will never again be able to sleep in the car!
We spent the night in Rockford, and the next morning Jennifer (mom), Riley, Shelby, Frankie, Anni, and I all piled into the Martin's mini-van to go to Green Bay, to a Transplant Family picnic. Somehow, the trip ended up taking 4 hours--a mystery which was solved when we actually looked at the clock to see how long our rest stop took on the way back. We were amazed to discover that our "quick meal stop" stretched into an hour! Of course, we had to feed the 3 girls (and at 2, 3, and 4 years old, they don't eat fast) then I had to nurse Frankie, then we had to change diapers and use the potty, then change outfits from the various spills/leaks, then buckle up 4 car seats and set up on-the-road entertainment again. Yeah, it was an hour!
The picnic was held at a little amusement park in Green Bay. It was just the perfect size for kids the girls' age, with short lines and lots of rides that were appropriate for their age. Of course, my immunosuppressed girl spent her waiting time walking up and down the line trying to make contact with every single child she could. Aaarrrggghh! There are times when having a shy child would really come in handy! I just used a lot of hand sanitizer, and we seem to have come home with no bugs picked up. Hooray! But, of course, no trip is complete without at least one health scare, especially when you're traveling with a transplanted child, and a child waiting for a transplant who has already suffered 5 broken bones at the tender age of 2 (Shelby's liver problems have given her osteoporosis). We had promised the girls that they could swim when they got to the hotel, so despite the fact that they were clearly completely worn out (especially mine), we took them swimming. Annika hasn't been in a big pool very often (3 times), so it was a big deal for her. At first she was nervous, but when she saw Shelby and Riley swimming around alone in their floaty suits, she got brave, too. I had forgotten her swim vest, but I had brought some water wings, so she had that extra help to float. However, I noticed that she had begun to shiver when all the other girls seemed fine with the temperature. When I finally got her back upstairs, she was crying, "Mommy, something's wrong with me!" So I got her warmed up and in bed, where she fell asleep promptly, despite all the activity still going on in the room. Luckily, Jennifer had brought her ear thermometer (I only had my old slow under-arm thermometer), and she was a bit on the warm side. When I checked her a few hours later, she was at a full-blown fever (102). Again, thank goodness Jennifer had brought her ibuprofen (mine had just expired before this trip, and I had thrown it away and forgotten to replace it--bad mommy!!) However, by morning she seemed to be feeling just fine and her temp was gone, never to reappear. Just another strange night in the post-transplant world, I guess.
OK, so the weekend, in a nutshell: Annika had sooooooo much fun! Riley and Shelby are great playmates for Anni, as they both have that great high-energy, go-along-with-anything kind of personality. Of course, having all those high energy kids for a weekend left Jennifer and me completely pooped, but seeing our girls have so much fun was well worth it. Plus, I got the added bonus of genuine girl-talk in the van there and back, which I admit that I do miss sometimes...
In case there was any doubt that our little girl is an adventurous spirit, I took her to a little carnival this afternoon. She rode her first roller coaster, a little kiddie one, but it did go pretty fast! The guy told me that I just had to wave my hand if she wanted off, but she whooped all the way through, especially on the fastest parts! She also rode the giant slide--the kind you ride on burlap bags down-- 6
times! I had a hard time getting her away from the slide, but eventually I convinced her to try other rides. The next ride she did was the roller coaster, and after that, she was ready to try any and all rides. Definitely an adrenaline junkie!! She rode a ferris wheel (finally! she has been asking to ride a ferris wheel ever since she read a book about one!), the tilt-a-whirl, a motorcycle ride, and the octopus. OK, the octopus was a little much for her. Obviously, I went on it with her, and she met the height requirement, but I had forgotten how fast that ride went. I'm going to have to override some of her choices in the future... It's just been so long since I've done any of those rides. Actually, she really enjoyed the ride until it kicked into high gear and did some of those stomach-flipping drops. I held onto her, and she relaxed and enjoyed the rest of the ride, especially once it went back to normal speed. Of course, after that she asked to go on one of the upside-down rides, and accepted my "No, it's too big" with only a little longing glance back over her shoulder.
Frankie continues to grow and amaze us. We moved her out of her infant car seat this week. Too bad, as the infant seats are so much more portable. But she is growing up... A few nights ago, I was taking her up to bed and we said our usual "night-night Daddy" while Joerg waved at her. Much to our surprise and delight, she waved back at him, with that funny little-kid wave that has the hand turned the wrong way. Of course, we praised her to the moon, and she looked ecstatic to have caused so much parental joy!
At 8 months, Frankie has finally started eating. She still does not care for any of the cereals, but she's pretty fond of all the orange vegetables. She's actually already into sticking the spoon into her own mouth, and wails like a banshee if, heaven forbid, I take the spoon away to do it for her. Therefore, mealtimes are a "double spoon" affair. One for her, and one for me. I sneak the full spoon into her mouth as she opens up to put in her own spoon. Then she gives me a very disgusted look like, "mom, quit sneaking that stuff in!" But she eats it, with only a little
Another first: Annika just had her very first haircut! She actually looks much younger now. I'll have to post some new pictures soon, if I ever get around to installing the needed software on our new computer...
And finally: Anni was playing in her playroom with her Daddy the other day when she turned to him and announced, "I'm actually a very shy person!" As if!!!!