It Wasn’t Perfect, But It Was Pretty Darn Cute.

The negotiations started weeks ago. One of our children needed ZERO encouragement to don a pretty outfit and perform in front of family and friends (I’ll let you decide which one). One of our children was pretty adamant about NOT participating in the wedding festivities. And one of our children fell somewhere in the middle: willing to fulfill his duties as flower boy, sort of excited about the outfit, but not quite as enthusiastic as the first.

Two participatory flower children would be a step up from the last family wedding they played a part in, but really, we were aiming for three. Their traditional Vietnamese wedding outfits (ao dais) has been custom made, and considering the flower child holdout was the godchild of the groom, getting him (or her) down the aisle felt like a high priority.

The negotiation went something like this:

Me: What if I gave you some Hershey kisses if you do your job at the wedding?

Child: 500 Hershey kisses!

Me: That’s too many.

Child: 100!

Me: How about 20?

Child: Woah. Ok! Twenty’s a lot!”

The math teacher in me cringed a bit at her offspring’s poor number sense, but the mother in me was thrilled to be emerging victorious (if bribing your child with twenty Hershey kisses can be considered a victory) from this negotiation.

The rehearsal did not go very well. Despite the promise of a score of Hershey kisses, two-thirds of our crew followed through with their flower child obligations, and one barely made it down the aisle with a lot of (literal) hand-holding from Mom. This was not the plan.

Considerations for alternative scenarios commenced immediately, and we spent the next twenty-two hours preparing ourselves for Plan B: three flower children and one Mom or Plan C: two flower children.

And then, at 1:30pm yesterday, without any mention of Hershey kisses, our holdout asked to suit up. Nevermind that it was a little too early to get dressed. Nevermind that there was a pretty big chance the ao dai would get wrinkled or stained before the ceremony. This kid wanted to get in his wedding outfit, and we were not going to stop him.

Two and a half hours later, they did what they had been asked to do. Quite literally. They threw the petals on the walkway (our efforts to distinguish between “throwing” and “sprinkling” came a bit late in the game) and went (RAN) to find Daddy at the end of the aisle. And while there may have been some Hershey kisses involved (only five!), those were really just a reward for a job well done.

I am so proud of my three little people for being so brave and for doing their job so well (which included sitting quietly–if not inconspicuously–throughout the ceremony). It wasn’t perfect, but it was pretty darn cute.

And what a special, special day it was celebrating Uncle Andrew and Aunt Evelynn. We are so glad they got to be a part of it.

Dance Like No One Is Watching

This girl. She dances like no one is watching, she sings like no one is listening (although I think she secretly hopes we all are), and she carries joy in her heart and spreads it wherever she goes.

After several blissful nights of uninterrupted sleep, and just hours before our road trip to VA to visit the cousins, her coughing began. In the grand scheme of things, last night’s breathing battles were pretty minimal. No albuterol needed (until 5AM this morning, that is), no trip to the hospital, no oxygen mask. But a sleepless night is a sleepless night, and a persistent and wheezy cough for a kid with asthma is always a bit unsettling.

Still, this girl jumped out of bed at 5AM, a smile on her face and only one concern: “If I go to Noah and Lily’s and I’m sick there, I will give Noah and Lily my germs.”

I am inspired by her concern for others, her ability to choose joy in the face of her frustrations, and her incredible zest for life.

Her latest catch phrase is, “This is going to be SO great.” This adventure, this Magna-Tile house, this waffle, you name it. Whatever it is, it’s going to be SO great. Especially if Sophie has anything to do with it. We are t-minus two hours from the cousins’ house, albuterol and inhaler in hand, and I can already tell: it’s going to be SO great.

Breathing Battles

Sophie on Oxygen

You would think I’d be an expert at this by now. Counting her breaths, recognizing retractions, knowing when it’s just congestion and when it’s something much worse. You would think, after 67 days in the NICU, watching them learn to breathe on their own, I would have faith in her little lungs. You would think, after weeks of staring intently at their monitors, willing their oxygen saturation levels higher when they dipped, and feeling helpless and terrified when they didn’t, I would be used to this.

And yet.

The first time she seemed to be struggling was Labor Day last year. We were out at Nana and Grumples’. She went to bed one night with sniffles and woke up the next morning lethargic and struggling to breathe. We went to the ER, and the suspicion was pneumonia. A chest x-ray, some monitoring, and a prescription for antibiotics, and we were discharged. We never did figure out if it was really pneumonia, and it probably wasn’t. But it’s hard to shake the memory of positioning your screaming two-year-old daughter for a chest x-ray and then backing away while they take the picture.

Next up it was Halloween. Again with the sniffles. And then a trip to the pediatrician, a round of steroids, and a mad dash around Manhattan in search of the right nebulizer in time for our weekend at Nana’s. Sophie’s “panda medicine” we started to call it.

There was another bout in November. Always counting breaths, filming her as she inhales and exhales, hoping for a virtual diagnosis from Aunt Hartley.

And then, in March, another trip to the ER, and they couldn’t get her oxygen levels back up. An overnight stay in the Peds wing. Quarantined because of the rhinovirus (read: “cold”) that had started it all. Around the clock nebulizer treatments. Another round of steroids. A new inhaler (this time for daily use). And a new doctor (and vocab word) for Sophie: a pulmonologist.

So you’d think I’d be used to it by now. You’d think I could tell the difference between breathing fast from a fever and breathing fast because she’s struggling to get the oxygen she needs. You’d think I’d know for sure what a retraction looks like. But the thing is, when your child might be struggling to breathe, it’s a pretty hard call to make.

The last time I raced her to the hospital (August), it turned out to just be a cold, a fever, and a double ear infection. And yet the five minute drive to the hospital with her strapped in the back where I couldn’t hear her, couldn’t touch her, were five of the scariest minutes of my life.

This little girl who kicked ass at breathing in the NICU can be (and often is) completely knocked down by a common cold. She missed her first soccer class today. Earlier this summer she missed camp, playdates. This school year hasn’t even begun, and I am already wondering just how often she’s going to have to stay home.

The alarm is set for the 1:00am dose of albuterol, but she tiptoed in here a little before 11:00, breathing fast and loud. Two puffs of her inhaler and she crawled into our bed. Scooting over to pat the pillow where she wanted me to lie.

And so tonight, I lay here, with Sophie pressed against me. Close enough so that I can hear and feel her breathing. Cell phone at the ready, stopwatch app open. Counting her breaths. Listening for wheezing. And looking for retractions. Hoping that tonight will not go down in the books as the “umpteenth” time we went to the ER, because unfortunately at this point, I am starting to lose count.




Smash Cakes

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Last Saturday, we celebrated the trips’ first birthday.

Jack was pretty excited about the prospect of a party.

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Sophie could barely contain her excitement.

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Even Henry cracked a smile.

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Just kidding, Henry! We know you smile all the time. Especially when Dad is around!

We had fifteen adults, four one-year-olds (okay, 75% of those were ours, but still…), one two-and-a-half-year-old, and one three-month-old in our apartment. Scratch that. In our living room/kitchen. It was packed!

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Of course Sophie wanted to make sure she didn’t miss out on any of the action.

Question: How many people can you fit in our baby jail?

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Answer: A LOT!

Of course we took advantage of having so many family members in one place, and with Henry, Jack, and Sophie dressed up in their birthday best, we had to try for some family photos!

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Nonno, Grammie, and the trio!

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Cousins! And Emi 🙂

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Sophie Ann and Lily Ann meet face-to-face for the first time. I have no doubt that these little ladies will hold their own up against the boys!

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I guess it’s a lot to ask to have all FIVE of us looking at the camera!2015-04-04 12.47.19

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If you’re new to first birthday bashes (or if it’s been a while since you celebrated one), you may not know about the “smash cake” tradition. I’m not sure where or when it started, but the idea is that your little bumpkin gets a cake of his or her own to explore, eat, play with…SMASH!

It is probably no surprise to any of you who know us, but it is now confirmed. Henry, Jack, AND Sophie like sugar.

     All in all, it was a smashing success! Pun intended.

The Choo Choo Wagon in action…watch out, world!