Wednesday, August 26, 2015

A First Second

Happy Birthday to our dear little Frannie!




Francesca is our third child, but this is the first Second Birthday we have celebrated with any of our children.  Sure, we celebrated when Emmie and Rosie turned two, but they were still in China.  We were half a world away, brokenhearted, and wishing we could blow out their candles with them.  I remember singing happy birthday through tears.  But this is the first 2nd birthday we have been able to celebrate as a family.  In person.  Not missing the person being celebrated.  It actually feels a little weird.  Adoption is funny like that.

To say that we are loving having Frannie in our family is such an understatement.  As much as we loved adopting Emmie and Rosie at the age of two, it has been really fun for us to have a baby.  We have all watched in wide-eyed wonderment at the sometimes adorable, sometimes gross things babies do.  Before Frannie, I thought all kids started at the age of two.  It's been so fun to experience her babyish-ness.  Wobbly walking, teething, babbling, and all of that baby stuff that we missed with our first two daughters...Frannie has shared all of that with us.

Not sure what Curious George did to get handcuffed here.
"Maybe they don't see me sneaking this pepperoni
that I'm supposed to be putting on the pizza."

Frannie is bright and continues to imitate everything her sisters do...good or bad!  She is gaining lots of words and phrases, and understands nearly everything we say to her.  Her eating hasn't slowed down a bit.  She loves to eat and her chubby little thighs show it.  (She's shorter than Rosie, but she weighs more!)  She likes to play dress-up and "restaurant".  At the start of the summer she was afraid of the sprinkler but now she giggles the loudest when we go to the spray park.  She loves the beach but is still a little nervous of the big ocean.  She enjoys many rides at the amusement park...it's funny how she likes spinning fast in the teacups, but is skittish when it comes to the carousel.

Picking blueberries, or eating blueberries?




While she seems happy and comfortable with her family, she is still pretty...stingy, shall we say, with the affection.  She comes to us if she is hurt, she comes to us for help, she comes to us for food, she comes to us to play, but she is still very reserved with her affection, and with her ability to accept affection.  Sometimes my caress is met with her hand pushing mine away.  Sometimes when we lean in to kiss her, she just turns her head.  "So, that thing I said about Frannie feeling affectionate towards us by Labor Day?  Let's go with New Year's.  Day, not Eve.  New Year's Day.  Give it until then," Patrick said after he was rejected yet again when it was time for the goodnight kiss.  Maybe she needs more time, maybe she's just not an affectionate kid.  I'd be lying if I didn't say that it's hard when you have a little bundle of cuddly joy that you want to be smothering with love constantly, but we're being patient and showing her love in every way we can.

Affectionate or not, Frannie is such a fun little member of our family.  She is beyond adorable, funny,  playful, and smart.  She looks up to her big sisters, and of course they are wonderful role models for her.  (OK, most of the time they are.)  We are so lucky to be her family, and we feel extra blessed to be able to spend her second birthday with her.





So, Happy Birthday, to our sweet little Frannie.  It has been so wonderful sharing these past 8 months together, and we can't wait to grow even closer as a family with you!  We know this is all still so new to you, and we thank you a million times for opening up your heart to us and letting us have the honor of loving you and being your parents.  We love you a million times!!!




Thursday, July 9, 2015

A Little Flower for your Face

All three girls get transfused on the same day.  It makes for an utterly insane day, but then it's over and we go back to being just regular for 3 weeks before we do it all over again.

So many IV poles!

Getting a transfusion is sort of like taking any medicine.  The "dose" you get is based on certain criteria.  For packed red cells, the "dose" is based on your weight and current hemoglobin level. As a result, the girls all get different amounts of blood every time we go.  Add to that the fact that Emmie does her transfusion as a "turnaround" (meaning that she has her type/screen done the same day as her transfusion) and the other two girls have their labs drawn a day or two before, it means that everyone starts and finishes at a different time.  Emmie is almost always the longest.

Some arts and crafts in our room to pass the time.

Just hanging out.

Yesterday, Rosie finished her transfusion first.  Her hemoglobin was the highest, she weighs the least, and her line was in first, all resulting in a first place ribbon at the finish line.  At each transfusion, our dear Child Life specialist steps in for a few minutes so I can take a walk to pee and get some coffee, something every hospital mama will tell you is a luxury.  Since Rosie was done with her blood, she asked to come with me.  She wrapped her warm and pinked-up body around mine and we headed for some caffeine.

On the way back from the coffee shop, I remembered that The Hole in the Wall Gang was holding a little in-hospital camp in the entertainment center.  I wasn't sure if it was right or wrong to stop by there.  One kid was done getting her new blood, but the other two were upstairs still tethered to IV poles for at least another hour.  Should I refuse Rosie some light-hearted fun because of the other two, or let her enjoy the fact that she was free from the Infusion Unit?  As Patrick said this weekend, there is no handbook on parenting, and if there was, it would likely suck.  So we stopped in.

It was set up like a real little camp.  Activities and smiles were everywhere, in a place where there are not always so many smiles.  Since we were on borrowed time while the Child Life Specialist sat with Emmie and Frannie upstairs, I steered Rosie to a quick activity--face painting.  The minute I did it, I felt a pit in my stomach, knowing that this was one of Emmie's absolute favorite things to do at fairs and the like.  Rosie beamed from ear to ear as a camp counselor painted a pretty pink butterfly on her little pink cheek.  A happy look in the mirror at the finished product and we were on our way back up to Emmie and Frannie.

The minute we walked into our treatment room, I knew I had made a mistake.  Or did I?  Yes, I did.  I think.  Oh, I didn't know, but I knew for sure that I felt miserable.  "I thought you were just going to get coffee like usual," Emmie said with big, jealous tears in her eyes as she looked at the pink butterfly on Rosie's cheek.  I failed.  Again.  I failed.  It was as if I took a crappy day for Emmie and made it crappier.  But I also took a crappy day for Rosie and made it better, didn't I?  But at what cost?  Sometimes, as mom, you just never feel like you can make a good decision.  At least little Frannie is still too young to care much, so I wasn't ruining her day, too.  I could take some peace in that, right?

Quickly I set down the coffee I wished I had never gone to get, and the Child Life Specialist slipped out of the room.  I got out the nail polish I brought with me and started right in on pedicures for the girls...Emmie first, and she would get a manicure, too, since she did not have a butterfly on her cheek.  Even with the special princess treatment, I could tell how sad she was.  "When is that camp going to end?" she asked.  I watched the blood drip, drip, drip slower than ever and told her that the camp would be over before her new blood was all done.  The tears brimming in her eyes confirmed that I had screwed up again.

Her transfusion seemed to drag on endlessly.  Every time a nurse or clinic assistant came in the room to check on us, Rosie proudly and innocently told them about the camp and to look at her butterfly cheek.  Emmie stared at the bag of blood hanging on her pole.  She never seemed to hate that bag of blood as much as she did right then.

The minute her pump beeped signaling the end of her transfusion, she asked about the face painting and the camp.  It was well past the end time of the camp, but the nurse could see the hurt in both of our eyes so she took out Emmie's IV out as fast as she could and said, "Run, Mama.  You never know.  Hold the gauze on her arm tight and run."

So we did.  Through the after-hours halls of the hospital.  Taking every back way I remembered from my days of working there.  Carrying my big girl, holding that gauze tight over her IV site, and praying that the camp went a little long.  But it didn't.  When we arrived, counselors were packing up the last of the boxes.  The room that was so lively earlier was just a bare space full of folding tables and chairs.  Before I could finish the phrase, "I'm sorry, honey" Emmie started to cry.  How pathetic we were, in the hallway of the hospital, me holding a bloody gauze, and Emmie crying.

And then, a girl in a green camp shirt came over asking what was the matter.  "Did you not have a chance to race your car?" she asked since they had been racing cars earlier.  I quietly explained the situation with the transfusion and the ill-fated face-painting stop I made earlier with Rosie.  "Well, guess what!?  I was one of the face painters today!  Why don't you sit right down and I'll get out all of the face paint and you can have your very own camp!"

So there we sat, in the middle of the empty room surrounded by packed up boxes of camp stuff.  The counselor took out every single paint color and glitter and brush you could imagine and took painstaking care to paint the perfect flower on Emmie's perfect cheek.  When Emmie looked in the mirror at the finished product, her smile made me know that I had made the right decision.  Now, there were tears in my eyes.  Like many of my decisions as a mother, it was clumsy and a little ugly, but in the end it was all OK.  The counselor gave us a handful of glittery stickers for everyone, and Emmie and I skipped hand in hand back to the Infusion Unit.  "Mama, I love that you know all of the back ways here.  When I grow up, I want to be just like you.  But with a superhero cape."

We arrived back just in time for Frannie's transfusion to end.  Frannie cheerfully stuck some glittery stickers all over her body, and she felt just like one of the gang.  We left the hospital feeling good.  Full of blood, and full of smiles.

So, to the young woman from the Hole in the Wall Gang camp who stayed long after the day was over to do a private camp session for Emmie, thank you.  Those flowers may have only lasted until bath time, but the memory you gave us will last much longer than that.

A little flower means a whole lot.

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Two Years of Rosie

May 7th marked two years since our spunky little Rosie came into our lives.  The perfect dimple under her eye when she smiles still melts my heart. She's a big sister and a little sister and proud of it. She's a tiny girl who loves very big.

Rosie was once a poster child for Love Without Boundaries.  Tiny, sad, and spending a lot of time in her crib in her orphanage.  We were told by the nannies that she became a favorite at Foshan Shunde CWI because, "she was the prettiest one."  



Pretty, she sure is.  But her fun and loving personality totally outshines her outer beauty.  She is extremely strong-willed, and tests every single rule put in front of her.  Let's be blunt...she gets the most "time outs" in our house.  But she also gives the biggest hugs, the most frequent kisses, and makes the loudest proclamations of her love for us.  She is smart, funny, and cuddly.  She is scrappy, sporty, and brave.  She'd climb up anything...she'd try to climb a wall like Spiderman if she could, but she wouldn't touch a ladybug if her life depended on it.  She coined the family phrase, "Let's do a no-peep" when it comes time to getting stuck with a needle for her transfusion.  At that moment, she sits still and holds out her arm and doesn't even flinch.  Yet at any other time, I've never seen her sit still for more than 10 seconds.  Even she says, "I think I have the ants in my pants."





Rosie wanted to celebrate her day by riding bikes in the driveway and eating the whipped cream off the top of a Frappuccino.  Happy that neither activity required wearing a dress.

When I look at those sad eyes in the pictures of her time before us my heart both breaks and jumps for joy.  Breaks because we couldn't love her sooner.  Jumps for joy because she's now ours.  And I wonder again and again what I ever did to be blessed with such love.

Monday, June 8, 2015

Memorial Day

In the spirit of catching up on some photos...Here are some we took of the girls on Memorial Day, honoring those who lost their lives fighting for our freedom.  We are all so lucky to live in "the land of the free and the home of the brave."


A breathtaking display on Boston Common.

Lots to think about here.





Our proud Americans.

Counting some of the 37,000 flags on display.


A perfect way to pay tribute.

Friday, June 5, 2015

The Problem of Slightly Worn Clothes - An Update

What to do with slightly worn clothes?  It's an issue that everyone struggles with.  You know what I mean.  You put something on for like, 2 hours and all you do is watch Homeland in it.  Sure, it's worn. It's technically "dirty" but you know it really isn't.  You can google this issue and get ideas such as:

1.  "I put it back in the drawer."  Nah.
2.  "I turn it inside out and then hang it back up so I know that it is gently worn." Um, too much work.  You do not have 3 children under the age of 5.
3.  "I have this chair/bench/ottoman in my bedroom covered with slightly worn clothes."  Getting warmer.
4.  "I throw lightly worn clothes on the floor until the pile is so high my kids can climb it like Everest."  Oh, you are my husband.  Hi, Patrick!  I didn't know you followed this blog!

OK.  So this post is not about this universal problem, because I have no solution or even remotely good ideas about it.  I tricked you with a catchy title to suck you in.  It's been so long since I've posted I figured you forgot about us.  I am a bad mommy blogger.

So, we have been a bit busy over the past two months, just living in our usual crazy whirlwind.  Half of the time I feel like I am drowning in a never-ending sea of kiddie love. The other half I am just, you know, drowning.  You people who make it look so easy are liars fabulous.  I am just...regular.  We had some busy medical stuff and then all kinds of technical difficulties.  Our camera broke so I had nothing to take pictures with, and then once we replaced the camera, the computer broke so I had nowhere to upload the pictures I was taking with the new camera.  So I fell behind on everything.

April brought us a wonderful vacation in Aruba.  We worried that it might be too soon to take the whole circus on a big vacation, but Mama needed a Pina Colada in a warm climate and we all generally needed a "break." (Break defined as caring for the crazies in a tropical locale instead of right here where it seemed like the winter would never end.)  But, seriously, it was a perfect vacation of sun, sand, ocean, pool, great food, and non-stop family time.  Until the flights home where everyone sort of showed their ugly side.  Upon landing at Logan, Patrick said, "Not only are we never taking a vacation again...WE ARE NEVER LEAVING ARLINGTON AGAIN."  Yeah, the flights back were that bad.  But I've blocked all of that out now and just remember the amazing week we spent in paradise.

Hotel room matching PJ pic.

Heading to the beach.  Look at this crew.


Late night gelato.





While P and I may be guilty of emptying this box of its contents over
the course of our vacation, we did NOT put Frannie in the box.
She came up with this photo op on her own.

Love me some little ruffly butts.




Paradise.





Shortly after our trip to Aruba, we were fortunate enough to have a little mini-break to Chatham.  Patrick had a trip for work and we promised that as long as we could keep a low profile, we could tag along.  In true New England spirit, the girls and I sat on the beach and built sandcastles in the chilly weather and strolled Chatham's quaint Main Street.





After our two trips we entered sort of the final stretch of the school year.  Emmie had several field trips, and Rosie even got to visit Sunshine Nursery School in preparation of being a pre-K student there next year!  My goodness, how can that be?

All ready for her pre-K visit day.
And, of course, the end of the school year also brings the end of dance class.  Emmie and Rosie were both in this years performance, making for twice the sequins, twice the lipstick, and twice the adorableness.  Emmie, being the seasoned performer she is loved every minute of it.  It being Rosie's first time on the big stage, she danced perfectly but spent a fair amount of time looking for me in the audience.  Even now when she talks about it she says, "Mama, I couldn't see you in the dark behind all of those heads!"  But everyone did a great job and had a good time.








And in between all of this fun going on, there's just regular daily life.  School, medical appointments, and of course the little issue of getting Frannie to become more and more attached to our family.  She is getting happier with each passing day, but she is definitely a tougher nut to crack than her sisters were.  At first Patrick boldly predicted that Frannie would really be loving us by the Fourth of July.  Now he's pushed that forward to Labor Day.  But she's comfortable in our home and overall quite happy, which is all we could ever ask for.