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Sunday, April 29, 2007

A Springing Good Time...

I've been totally remiss about posting lately; I am not sure how it is that an entire week has slipped by with nary a word about Hallie, but there you have it. This doesn't mean that nothing is happening in our lives; actually, it's quite the opposite.

First, we have begun to have a real spring---meaning that it's gone from cold to hot really quickly. The tomatos, basil, oregano, thyme, lavender, and mint are planted, and I take Hallie on brief tours of our exceptionally small brick back yard on a daily basis (where she gets to smell all the herbs and pick leaves off of the plants). Here is the garden this past weekend:

Since I had to work last weekend, I was unable to accompany Sharon and Hallie on their big trip to Grammy's house in Egg Harbor Township, NJ. They hung out, played a lot with the cousins, and went on a massive shopping spree (as if the girl didn't already have a groaning closet!). Among the recent purchases were a bathing suit for Princess Hallie and lovely new sandals. Hallie adores the latter, as you can see from the following pictures:

And, of course, it helps that sandals are delicious.


In addition to her ever expanding role as a consumer, Hallie had several other neat experiences this week.

Most significantly, she had her six-month NICU followup at the Pennsylvania Hospital ICN. She picked up toys and passed them from one hand to another, sat like a champ, rolled over from stomach to back (she didn't go in reverse, though she had been known to do so at home; she must have heard them say something about this because flipping from back to stomach is her new passion and if anything she is more fluid of a back-to-stomach flipper than vice versa). In essence, she did everything they expected and then some and everyone was pleased with her development so far. We are very far from being out of the woods, but we do take deep breaths with each passing milestone met.

And speaking of milestones, Hallie has also begun to pull herself up into the sitting position on her own and today began to get up on her knees and rock. Crawling is likely just around the corner. Then no one is safe. But everyone is happy.

Given all of this, we've needed to get rid of the mobile in Hallie's crib. We are sad to see it go because it has been such a faithful companion. Hallie loves the Sound and Motion mobile, but lately her interactions with it have been a bit on the aggressive side:

She has pulled off various of the plushy animals and balls attached to the mobile and we decided (based on the sage advice of grammy) that we are better off putting the mobile away now rather than risk Hallie entangling herself in it.

Hallie is also pretty aggressive with her absolute favorite toy, a Bert finger puppet bought for her by her Auntie Neystice. She loves to maul Bert, eat Bert, and earlier today she suspended Bert from his toes (or the puppet equivalent thereof) from her crib bumper (breathable, naturally). I don't have a picture of the great hanging, but I do have a few that generally capture Hallie's relationship with Bert:

Who'd have thought such an innocent little girl cold be so forceful with her toys. This look says it all:

Today, Hallie was just plain cute.

Because tomorrow is our WalkAmerica Walk (let's hear it for Team Hallie and Olivia---we've already raised more than $4000), both grandmothers are in town. Hallie spent the morning playing with us on the big bed, she took a very long (four hour) nap, woke up, played with Grammy and Bubbe , went to the park, swung on swings and then hung out with her pals Karina and Ethan. It's so cute to see how Karina and Hallie light up when one of them enters the other's space, and today Hallie even kissed Karina hello. Ethan was a bit jealous so he insisted that Hallie kiss him goodbye. They are great friends and we feel blessed to have these three little kids grow up together. Even though Hallie is not in this shot, this is a great picture of Ethan and Karina descending the slide in our neighborhood park the other evening:

Saturday, April 21, 2007


Hallie has a new obsession: her tongue.

It can wiggle and wriggle in all sorts of interesting ways. It curls up, it curls down, it curls all around. Like Hallie herself, Hallie's tongue enjoys acrobatics.

You have to admit that she's a whole lot cuter than Mick Jagger:

It also helps her produce more drool, which Hallie sees as an asset. We're hopeful that tongue+drool=teeth. Keep your fingers (and your tongues) crossed that this is the week that something finally breaks through.

Finally, all of this advanced tongue activity is finally convincing Hallie to move beyond her safe "geh" consonant to a much more daring "beh". Sharon and I are pretty sure that we heard her say something like "bay" (as in 'baby') both last night and this morning.

And just because these pics are so damned cute, here are a couple of non-tongue related shots from this morning's photo shoot.

Happy spring everyone! It's finally arrived here and later on I'll try to post some pics of the salmon-throated daffodils that have popped up in our back yard.

And, speaking of spring, here's one more shameless plug for Team Hallie and Olivia. We are hopeful that next weekend's weather will be just as nice as this one's and that our Walk America Team, which now has around 30 members, will have a blast walking to raise money to heighten awareness about and help prevent prematurity. Hit the link to join our team or help our cause...and for those of you who already have joined and/or contributed, I want to send out a really big thank you. We've already raised above $2500 dollars and are hoping to hit the $3000 mark by the weekend---this is a whole lot more than the goal of $300 that I originally set for myself back in January.

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Oh, the Places She Will Go....

It's been another fun, adventure-filled weekend of firsts, seconds, and thirds for Hallie.

Let's take things in reverse order, because that's how they happened:

On Friday, Hallie had her third indoor preemie playdate with her friend Maya. This time, another ICN-mate, Benjamin, who was born right after Hallie, but who is four weeks older than she is in gestational age terms (in other words, he's a 28 weeker), was able to make it, too.

The three kids had a grand time hanging out, comparing notes on their toys, and even playing interactively with one another.

Maya showed off her advanced rolling techniques to Hallie. Our living room became the site of some major preemie acrobatics:

Hallie responded by playing a game of "I'm gonna get you" with Maya:

A grand time was had by all and we're going to try to do this again soon.

Later that evening, Hallie went out to dinner for the second time in a week. The first time (on Thursday), she hung out at the Blarney Stone and watched her friend Josh jam with his Irish band. Hallie, Karina, and Ethan (Josh's one and a half year old son, who also doubles as the harmonica player) really got into the groove. Alas, we have no pictures of this event.

Friday was Aunt Renee's birthday, and Hallie celebrated by sleeping through some excellent fondue at The Melting Pot:

It is too bad but Renee took this picture; the only other one we have (which does contain the birthday girl) features Renee with her eyes closed. We didn't want Hallie to seem like she had any competition in the sleeping department at dinner, so I've decided to upload this image instead.

Then, on Saturday, we packed up the car (OK; SUV, but it does have a car chassis) and headed off to NJ for Hallie's first-ever sleepover at Aunt Laura's and Uncle Bryan's. This weekend was cousin Hannah's fourth birthday party (her actual birthday was about two weeks ago). Even though Hallie wasn't going to be able to attend the party (even in post RSV season, we're eager to avoid unnecessary exposure to germy kids), we did want to celebrate the event with Hannah.

It's amazing how much stuff we "need" on an overnight trip:

I guess we're going to have to rent a U-Haul for Hallie when we bring her down to Aunt Laura's and Grammy's for a week in May!

Anyway, Hallie brought lots of toys and her cousins really enjoyed playing together:

The little cousins (Hannah and Adam) are totally in love with Hallie, and I must say that it seems like the feeling is quite mutual. Not only did they get to play with Hallie all weekend, but they even got to hold her:

Speaking of holding her, Grandma Sandy got to hold the little princess for a while, too. (The birthday hat is courtesy of Cousin Megan, who decided to make Hallie a hat when she was fashioning one for Hannah to wear):

Hallie has continued to sport her haberdashery since returning home. This is Hallie at dinner tonight. Notice that she rejected her turkey dinner and vanilla pudding in favor of the green star from her Fisher Price musical stacker....yum!

But even more delicious than a green star, of course, are Hallie's toes:

Here's the motto from the onesie she's wearing: "If I'm not Happy, Nobody's Happy." Yup...that about sums things up!

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Hallie's First Easter Basket!

Here are some cute photos of Hallie with her wonderful Easter basket which was made with lots of love by Aunt Laura. She actually made the basket itself! Hallie is so lucky to have such an amazing Aunt.

I had a hard time deciding which photos I liked the most so I included all of them.

Monday, April 9, 2007

Hallie's first Passover/Easter: Our Little Sitting Bunny

On Saturday night, Hallie experienced her very first Passover Seder. In Hebrew, seder means "order" and the whole meal is ordered around a huge number of rituals and readings that help retell the history of the Exodus from Egypt. It's one of our most important holidays, particularly since I have a lot of fond childhood associations, and even more graduate school associations, with Passover. There's a lot of singing (including a really heartfelt rendition of the story of the four children set to the tune of "Oh My Darling Clementine!" that kids and adults both seem to love), tons of good food, and a bunch of opportunities for revisionist approaches to historical narrative. Needless to say, I was thrilled that we could begin to share this wilth Hallie. Hallie, of course, had a great time, and showed it by eating her fist (which is, after all, kosher for Passover):

Anyway, we had a great time celebrating with Grammy, Aunts Renee and Kim, and the extended Queen Street Commune (aka the Chan clan (Auntie Vanessa, Karina, Virgil and Wan-Za--- I hope I got the spelling right!--and Josh, Nancie, and Ethan). All the kids loved it and hopefully next year they can steal the afikoman and collect a huge ransom.

Today, we had a very nice Easter day. This is especially because our little bunny decided that it was time to be risen...into the unassisted sitting position:

Maybe it was Grammy's gentle-but-firm support; maybe it was the fact that she was wearing the shirt Aunt Ellen got her and wanted to show it off to the world, maybe it's because she finally realized that it's a whole hell of a lot easier to play with drums, stackers, blocks, and pretty much everything else that way, but whatever it was it finally clicked. Maybe, just maybe, she realized that this was what the other big kids (Karina and Ethan) were doing and she wanted to do it, too....

...though not necessarily "with" her friend Ethan in any conventional sense of the word "with":

And if sitting were not enough on its own, Hallie realized that this gives her the opportunity to become even more mobile:

We are so very, very proud of our little bunny, who is quickly becoming a toddler.

Tomorrow, I'll try to post pictures about when the Easter Bunny (who is apparently Jewish) came to town and delivered all sorts of goodies to Hallie.

Happy Passover and Easter, everyone!

Saturday, April 7, 2007

Play Date with Alex

On Monday, Hallie had a playdate with her friend Alex, who is 2 years old going on 15 or so. Sharon took Hallie over to Alex's parents' house (our friends Sheila and Brett) to hang out and have fun. The idea was that they'd check out the park in Bala Cynwyd (where they live) and see what their swings have to offfer, pop by Rosa and Stan's (Brett's parents) house to introduce the kiddo to Rosa, who was orchestrating a huge Passover seder, and then play it by ear.

Hallie loved the park, but not in the way you'd think. She promptly fell asleep in her stroller upon arriving and did not wake up again until she'd been bundled back into her car seat. Alex, in contrast, had a grand time running around.

When they got back to Alex's house, it was storytime. Alex, who is precocious and talented as well as adorable, shared some of her favorite books with Hallie, and Hallie proved a very rapt audience:

It really helped that the book Alex chose was an Alphabet book. Hallie's favorite ditty in the universe is the Alphabet Song (she also digs the other songs that share its melody (Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star and Baah, Baah, Black Sheep). Basically, she's a Mozart-for-Suzuki-Violin junkie. Today when we were watching Barney (please don't ask!) together, she perked up when the dumpy dinosaur launched into an inevitable chorus of her number one fave.)

Alas, listening to stories is of limited interest still to Hallie, whose mastery of the English language (alphabet song tune aside) is rather limited. And so, in the end, as always the Manhattan Toy won out!

Thursday, April 5, 2007

Happy 6 Months Corrected Birthday, Hallie!

Here's one of the 'official' adoption photos that Aunt Renee took on Friday. We're all gathered around the judge. Unfortunately, you can't see how hugely cute Hallie's outfit is; I promise to post more pics showing off our little fashion plate's sense of haute couture as soon as possible:

Anyway, yesterday was Hallie's corrected half-birthday. I was showing a colleague's wife her early pictures today and found it hard to believe that our chubby little girl was once so very small. I'm not even thinking here about her birth pictures but her homecoming shots. She seemed HUGE to us back in October when we finally got to spring her from the ICN. Now, when I look at those pictures, she seems diminutive. It's also fascinating for us to watch how much she changes from week to week. I'm not sure when that slacks off (I imagine that it does at some point in life; for example, I am pretty much the same as I was last week, or at least I like to think that I am not aging as quickly as that!).

Speaking of weeks-gone-past, I've been thinking a lot about half-full glasses this past week. One thing that the last year (can it really be going on a year already?) has taught me is that it's important to celebrate all of the good stuff, even as we always remain ever vigilant, guarded etc. Every day that Sharon stayed pregnant in Labor and Delivery, every hour that the girls remained inside, every twenty-four hours older they became once they were born turned into causes to celebrate. We sang happy birthday to them every night at the appointed hour for the first week after they were born and were thrilled when they reached a week old, then two. Even after we lost Olivia, we tried to celebrate every milestone that Hallie reached. Indeed, these milestones became even more important for us then, at least on some level. And with the creative help of Aunt Laura, who was always ready with gift bags, sparkling cider, and festive decorations, we celebrated and celebrated and celebrated. We still do. I think that, if anything, we've learned how important it is not to take anything for granted, to try to live in the moment (this is a big one for me because I am the quintessential plan-aheader who still catches myself forgetting about what's happening now whilst trying to make sure that I take care of all possible future contingencies), and to remember to stop, take a deep breath (having babies on ventilators really does have a way of reminding one how important it is just to breathe), and enjoy what we have. And what we have is a lovely little girl (even teething doesn't make her less lovely!), a wonderful nuclear family, a fabulous extended family, and a great circle of real and virtual friends who envelope the three of us with their love and support and try to remind us about all of the half-full glasses in our lives even when we forget about them. That's a lot to celebrate.

Happy Spring (what spring? OK--I'll celebrate our lack of an ice storm even if I cannot fully embrace the fact that it went from mid 70s on Monday to 40s now), and may your springtime holidays--religious, secular, and all mixes thereof--be times for celebrating renewal, rebirth, and all of the half-full things in your life.

Sunday, April 1, 2007

Hallie's Weekend

Hallie's weekend has been a pretty important one.

it began on a really high note on Friday when we all got up bright and early, fed and bathed Hallie (in that order, so as to not require us to re-bathe Hallie after any potential refund activity) and got ourselves dressed up (which sadly is now defined on any item of clothing lacking a milk stain on the shoulder). Grammy came down from New Jersey to meet up with us, and we picked up Auntie Neystice at her house, because we were all headed to Juvenile Court. No, Hallie has not burped in no burping zone or anything of that nature; we were in court so that I could formally adopt Hallie. While Hallie thinks of me as her mama (or at least as someone special who is particularly inclined to play endless games of 'I'm gonna get you!" with her and changes her diapers and feeds her bottles), and I certainly feel like Hallie's mama (there have been plenty of sleepless nights already, and I am certain that this will only get worse when she becomes a teenager), the law didn't exactly recognize us as related until 11am on Friday. While one could complain about this (and the fact that it cost a bunch to make our relationship legal), I'm more willing right now to look at the situation in a glass-is-half-full kind of way and am happy that at least I live in a state where this is possible. Anyway, Hallie did beautifully, it was great to see so many kids in Juvenile Court for such a happy event (the halls were filled with families adopting kids; Hallie was the second youngest child being adopted so we got to go early in the docket), and it gave us yet another major celebration in our lives. We went out to lunch right afterwards; we enjoyed a very adult meal replete with wine (how decadent!) and Hallie enjoyed a nice long nap:

(NOTE: Aunt Neystice has the official adoption photos on her camera; as soon as she sends them, we will post them)

Afterwards, we came home and Grammy took Hallie to the park to swing on the swings and Mama (that's me, officially!) prepared a feast for dinner. Mommy had to go to work, alas (she enjoyed playing hooky all morning and early afternoon). Then, we got Hallie out of her playclothes and back into her adoption finery because Aunt Ellen was coming over. Aunt Ellen watched Hallie play on her rug in the living room (she is actually playing on my carriage blanket from when I was an infant around 40 years ago) and even got to see Hallie roll over. Not bad for a kid who weighed 1 lb. 5 ounces when Aunt Ellen met her in the delivery room just shy of 10 months ago. And check out those shoulder muscles! I am glad someone in our family is still in shape!

Aunt Ellen sent us some gorgeous flowers on this very special day:

Then, later on, Auntie Vanessa and Uncle Mark and Karina (who has taken to hugging, kissing, and calling Hallie by name), Vanessa's brother Ernie (who himself had spent quite a few weeks in the NICU at Washington University Hospital when he and his twin were little) and Auntie Nancy and Uncle Josh and Ethan came over for dinner with us; it was nice to celebrate with the whole Queen Street Commune.

This all left Hallie (and us) tuckered out and so we slept late on Saturday. Hallie woke up and was in a very nice mood and even wanted to hold her own bottle when we were feeding her:

After that, mommy got Hallie ready and took her to the zoo with the Queen Street Commune and Uncle Ernie. We dressed her in a favorite pair of jeans and her cute red and white striped jacket; these things were swimmingly large on her back in December and now barely fit her. The whole commune posed for a nice group shot (which excluded Mommy, who was taking the picture).

Hallie was eager to play at the zoo:

She was happier being held than wheeled around in the stroller; that way, she could see more and was less likely to drift off into sleep.

Karina and Ethan had a great time at the children's petting zoo:

But Hallie was not quite sure what to do!

In spite of herself, Hallie was really tuckered out by the end; this, however, did not stop her from giving Uncle Ernie a hard time on the way home!

Today, we just took it easy and didn't do much of anything. Glorious!