Friday, December 18, 2015

2015 in the Review

On the verge of 2016, I can't say that I will fondly remember 2015 as one of the better years, because the truth to be told, it has not been the greatest year. However, with it not being so great, there have been a lot of wonderful moments to be cherished, and remembered. It is hard to believe that so many tragedies are intertwined with the joys to be sealed in our hearts. 

2015 kicked off to a difficult start with so many losses of our loved ones, both furry, and not so furry, and each loss was a blow to our hearts. Our family friend had passed away unexpectedly, which blew us away, and we ransacked our brains to try understand why he made the choice that he did. Following so close after, we lost Layla, and the loss resonated in our home. The emptiness dwelt in every corner, and an ache of memory was almost too unbearable at times. It really took us a long time to heal from the loss. Having typed that, I can't say that the ache has completely gone away even to this day.

With those rapid losses in such a short span of time, it invited even more losses of our family's loved ones, and pets. Our hearts grew heavier with every forlorn news we received. Our family pets had quietly slipped away from our lives. It was as if many of my final connections to my childhood, and teenage years had been slowly snipped away as I receive more sad news from others. Soon after, I started hearing, and reading more sad news among my friends, and family members about their losses.

It didn't become any easier when we learned that Grandpa Jerry, my dad's dad, had gone home after battling an illness. The loss of grandpa Jerry hit me in a spot that still ached even to this day, especially with Christmas Eve looming so near, because Christmas Eves were always celebrated with my dad's side of family at Grandpa Jerry's home. Every time I thought about this upcoming Christmas Eve, I was reminded that there was going to be a change, and it was not going to be at Grandpa's Jerry. I looked at my kids, and just felt incredibly sad, knowing that they would not get to know him. He was also my last grandparent, after Sweet Mama, and only one of two that I had most memories with.

It felt like 2015 was the year of losses. It reminded me of a meme I saw on Facebook that simply stated how this year was almost over, and not everybody we loved made it through. Then it added not to ever take people we love for granted. It served as a solemn reminder that life was fragile. While 2015 was riddled with many losses so early on, it was not entirely terrible, and that even sunshine rays managed to get through the clouds of storm.

Franklin was born with health conditions that plagued us with worries, concerns, and anxieties of whether we were proceeding with the right choices for him. While it was very difficult to sail down this road, Franklin proved to be our ray of sunshine by remaining happy, and sweet-natured. Not once did he express any discomfort with the choices we made for him. Franklin invited so many smiles, hugs, and well-wishes. He had the biggest smile out of us all throughout this journey. Every small accomplishments left me with awe of how incredible Frank was. It came to the point that we cannot imagine not having Franklin in our lives. He was a perfect puzzle fitting into our family.

In early spring, we continued to get many signs from Layla that it was time to look into adopting a dog. Every place we went to, we spotted a Basset Hound with his/her owner. Every picture that appeared in our newsfeeds, it was of a Basset Hound. An article here, and there was about a Basset Hound. The emptiness in our home felt so unnatural, so wrong, and so sad. When I cooked, I tenderly stepped backward to make sure I did not trip over a drooling log of a dog only to discover there was a clear space behind me. When Stu and I watched TV, Stu reached to a spot to pet a warm body of fur only to find a small indent in the sofa that used to lag under the weight of a dog. When Forrest dropped a snack, I expected a pink tongue to lap it up, and I realize there was not going to be one as I pulled out a vacuum to clean up the mess.

While we were heartbroken, we wanted that emptiness to be filled once again, and to have our boys grow up with a puppy. With crazy series of events, we were suddenly face to face to a wiggling puppy that we named Beatrice. Her goofiness took away our ache. Beatrice's burst of crazy energy was a perfect match to a very rambunctious young boy. She had a boatload of patience for Frank's grubby fingers as long as she was rewarded by savory food bits on Frank's chest.

Beatrice will never replace Layla. Beatrice is not Layla. We will always ache, and tear up at the thought of Layla. We miss her something fiercely. It is something we still need to work through, and heal. To make the journey of healing, Beatrice does make it a lot easier for us by being her own goofy self that brings so much joy to us.

Not only Franklin bloomed, Forrest did as well, and it was an amazing sight to behold. Forrest struggled with speech, and communicating despite knowing how to sign. He needed more structure, and organization to his thoughts to be signed, and to be verbally expressed. With evaluation, it was determined that Forrest should be placed in an intensive speech class that met five times a week, and also to attend 3-K class designed for children with special needs. Forrest literally bloomed overnight. He made friends, started speaking more, signed more cohesively, and it was as if a world had been opened from his mind. What an incredible thing to witness, especially coming from a child that struggled so much during the first two years of his life with expressing himself.  Forrest took an initiative to start potty training, to dress himself, and put shoes on without our help. It became awesome to finally see what unlocked from Forrest's mind.

Forrest had a tough start to his school year with being sick quite frequently. It was as to be expected seeing that  3K had a lot of germs! Fortunately, Forrest trucked through his illnesses to be able to handle school germs. He grew to love school so much that every time he was dropped off, he was like mom who?! 

Stuart, and I celebrated our fourth wedding anniversary in June. Imagine that, 4 years married, and to top that, we also recognized our eleventh dating anniversary. We often turned to each other, then shake our heads in disbelief at HOW FAST time went by. We often tell each other, did you ever imagine being here eleven years later with two beautiful boys? It was often when I find myself filled with awe of how incredibly lucky I was to have an amazing family. 

We spent a lot of time visiting our families over the summer. Memories were made. Love was cherished, and shared. The boys enjoyed a trip to Milwaukee Zoo and Racine Zoo with Grandma Tree, and Grandaunt Ro, spent hours playing Dinosaur with Papa Dave and Nana Jess, waded in a frigid water of Lake Michigan, watched the fireworks blasting across the dark sky on the 4th, celebrated Frank's graduation from the helmet therapy, visited cows and pigs at Grandpa Mike and Grandma Bobbie's Farm, played with cousins, and took long walks on summer evenings. 

Dad, and Jess got married in August. It was a beautiful wedding that held a lot of love, happiness, and beauty in the atmosphere. I was thrilled to finally have Jess to be an officially part of our family! The boys definitely loved having their Nana, and Papa there to spend some time with them. Then Forrest celebrated his third birthday! 

We celebrated Spencer's and Wally's wedding. It filled us with a lot of happiness to see our family together, spending time, and having a grand fun. After all, that was how weddings were supposed to be, right? 

The year dwindled down as holidays full force came upon us; Halloween, Thanksgiving, then soon Christmas! In between all the holidays, Frank celebrated his first birthday. It was hard to believe that the boys were growing up so quickly. Those two little guys in my life continued to be one of my biggest blessings. When going got hard, all I had to do was look at them, and my heart got to be so full of love. 

While 2015 was off to a rough start, it did end on a better note, and it gave us lessons to tuck into our hearts: never be afraid to tell someone you love them, love deeply, always say I love you, always hug and kiss when you can, and be thankful for each day you are alive. Not everyone had this chance. 

I am looking forward to what 2016 will bring to us. There will be some changes coming soon, hopefully good ones, and no matter what happens, things will turn out to be just okay, because we have each other.  


The Russ Clan

Wednesday, December 9, 2015


Dear Frankie,

The tradition carries on with you as I did with Forrest for his yearly birthday letters. Because of this, you do need a first birthday letter to kick off the next 17 years. 

You are ONE year old. How is this possible that a whole year has flown by? 

A year ago, Daddy told Mama that you were going to come on this very day of the 24th, and Mama didn't believe him. She was pretty sure you would go overdue! As the day drew into the night with snow falling harder, and harder; it was quite apparent that you were coming, so Daddy took Mama to the hospital to have you, and Mama cried on the way to the hospital, because she was not sure how much life was going to change with going from a family of three to a family of four! Once you were born, everything fell into the place perfectly, and you continued to prove that love had no bounds. You were a  piece of puzzle fitting neatly into our lives, and it was beautiful.

While Mama was pregnant with you, she decided to come up with a theme for your nursery, and the theme was My Only Sunshine. Little did she know that the theme was going to be perfect, because it fit your personality, especially through the many storms in the first year of your life!

You have had a wild first year of your life. You were born with both Torticillis, and Plagiocephaly, because you were a breech baby from week 18 up to two weeks before you were born! It was crazy how being a breech led to so many health conditions that needed to be worked on. On the following day after you were born, you had a crazy foot; the top part of your foot was touching your shin, and Daddy took a picture of your foot, because he thought it was crazy how that happened! Apparently, your feet molded to the womb as you grew, and that caused one of your feet to develop an abnormal shape. Dr. Karbon, your pediatrician, assured your parents that it was something that would resolve on its own as you grew a bit more. Sure enough, by the end of your second or third month, your foot returned to a normal state, and did not affect you ever since.

By your 6th week, Mama had a whirlwind of a day of you getting diagnosed with Torticillis, and Plagiocephaly. It set off nearly a year long of treatment to resolve several of your health conditions that impacted your developmental milestones. You did not let the conditions stop you from being a happy, wonderful baby boy. You loved to be lavished on, to be cuddled, and to share your smiles with people. You lacked any misgivings about so many appointments, and treatments. You went in with a big smile, and giggles. You always got complimented about how happy you were!

You adjusted with little problems to wearing a helmet, paid no mind to PT exercises, and enjoyed being massaged at chiropractor office. You continued to blow away everybody with how well you were progressing! With each visit, you proved how resilient, awesome, and stubborn you were at getting better! After many months of treatments for your conditions, you were released, and declared to be in a good health. Everybody were so, so proud of you!!

The only tell tale sign of you overcoming your conditions is a slightly bump on the back of your head. Only Mama notice this little bump. Everybody else remarks on how amazing your head shape is, and it is as if you never had a flat spot to begin with. It is a testimony of how successful cranial doc band treatment worked for you!

Throughout all this, you remained to be a happy, jovial, sweet, and loving boy. Your personality began to emerge more, and more every passing day to continue reinforce your sweet-natured traits. You often loved to share food with the dogs, and family. You preferred to be comforted in someone's arms instead of trying to calm down on your own. You laughed, smiled, and babbled when spoke to. You rarely went without a smile. You were always so content to be held, and talked to. You loved to lay against Bea's body, and softly pat her fur. You pored over the pages of your favorite books for seemingly long time before moving on. You squeeze your fists, and shake when you began to lose patience, especially waiting for food! Your many facial expressions cracked up Mama and Daddy! You always had a big smile on your face when you saw someone familiar, and throw your arms out at them to be picked up.

You are a wonderful teacher. You've taught so many of us to remain happy, and loving, even though hardships. Mama has learned how to become a stronger person, because of Forrest, and especially you. You don't allow anything to bog you down, and you continue to preserve through the storms. You are always smiling. You're a perfect balance to Forrest's spirited nature of calm, and wisdom.  Mama and Daddy, as well as many others, are looking forward to see your personality to emerge more as you age.

We love you to the moon, and back.


Mama, Daddy, & Forrest

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

FDR is TWELVE Months Old

Dear Frankie,

You are TWELVE months old.

A year ago today; little did Mama know that she was in labor with you, and that you were about to enter the world at 10:25 pm that night. Matter of fact, Mama told Daddy that he had nothing to worry about, because today was not the day, and she thought it was braxton-hicks contractions. Daddy insisted that you were going to be here sooner or later, and worried about driving through a snowstorm that night. Sure enough, you decided that a blustery snowstorm was not going to stop you from coming. Daddy cautiously drove with Mama through a dark, stormy night. Thankfully you were not born in the car (even though that would make for even crazier story). Mama told Daddy that she knew you were a boy, and that she wanted to make sure that you were going to be named Franklin Dexter. As soon you were born; Mama saw you, she fell in love with you, and realized that the power of love had no bounds. People were right when they told her that with each child, love just grows, and grows.

In the course of the year, you showed the world that you had a very sunny disposition, and had a nature that just gravitated people to you. Your coos, laughter, and blabbering elicited a lot of kisses, and hugs. You didn't allow your health conditions stop you from reaching the stars, and beyond. It was so wonderful to watch you, and Forrest bond as brothers as you grew older. Mama thought it would get easier with you once you turned one, and she was proven wrong. It did not get any easier. While this was not Mama's first rodeo with a child turning a year old, there was still no other Frank, and only one It didn't become any easier with each child turning older even though Mama's heart was always full of admiration, pride, and love for them.

An amazing news has come out of your long journey with Torticillis. You are no longer in physical therapy! Jen has finally released you from her care, stating that you are in a perfect health, and no longer in a need to be worked on with your developmental issues. She believes that you will catch up in due time with walking. Mama and Daddy aren't worried, because after all the work you've done, walking seems to be such a small affair to worry about! Mama and Daddy are so relieved with how all this has turned out for you. It has been such a very long journey with a lot of worrying, questioning, anxiously waiting to see if the choice they had made for you is the right choice, and trying everything to help you as much as they can. A lot of burden has been lifted off their shoulders once Mama and Daddy learned that you are all done, and declared to be in a good health. All this has been worth it as evident by how wonderful you have been doing these days.

You have a doctor appointment scheduled today at 11:30 am! It will be fun to learn what your statistics are for weight, and height. You, and Forrest will also be receiving the last set of flu shots, which is nice, because then you will be protected for the winter season.

You had a wonderful Halloween even though you were a grumpy bat, because you had to be in your stroller the whole time. However, you did have fun watching Forrest prance from a door to the next to get candies! You had most fun crawling around with your tiny wings flapping, chasing after Bea, and getting into the cahoots with her as Daddy and Mama helped Forrest to pass the treats to the trick treaters that came to their house.

You are currently down to two nursing sessions, which is right before your nap and bedtime. Weaning you is proving to be harder than it did with Forrest. You need a longer time to adjust, and transition into new routine with each time when a nursing session is dropped. It takes you about a week to adjust to being weaned off. Teething isn't helping the cause. You prefer to be rocked until you fall asleep. While night weaning you, it took you an hour or two of rocking to get you back to sleep! Now you only need to be rocked for less than 5 minutes to be assured, then returned to your bed to go back to sleep. Progression, my friend. Once you are able to sleep through the night consistently, Mama is going to work with you to drop the last two nursing sessions, which is right after Thanksgiving. Mama is planning to have you completely weaned by Christmas at the latest.

You are a foodie. You are a great eater. There is not a single food that you have met that you did not like! Everything goes right into your mouth...sometimes, things that goes into your mouth is inedible., and Mama has to fish an item out of your mouth quickly before you swallow it. It sure gives Mama some gray hair strand or two already! You love sharing food with anybody, including Bea. It sure goes to show that you do have a sunny disposition! My, you are going to really ENJOY Thanksgiving!

Mama suspects you may have an allergy to dairy. You are developing a tell-tale mark of eczema patch on your cheeks as soon as you consume something with dairy. Like Forrest, you will come to outgrow this, and start to tolerate dairy better as you get older. Because of this, she is not overly worried about you, and plan on having you drink soy milk until Forrest is cleared of having almond allergy through Dr. Warpinski, then you and Forrest may switch over to drinking almond milk instead. You do not have any other symptoms that shows you have a severe dairy allergy, so Mama think this may be more of an intolerance issue just like what Forrest has.

In the meanwhile, you are becoming more bold, and brave with walking. You wobble as you stand up, and fall down after a few seconds of standing. You can walk assisted with a help from using a stroller, or holding on to someone's hands. You still cruise like a boss! When you do crawl, you move at a lightning speed! After all, you have to in order to keep up with your brother, and the dog. You get so frustrated when you are left behind, and make yourself known until you are noticed! You often have bruises on your forehead as a result of many falls, and tumbles. It does not bother you at all.

You recently had your first birthday picture shoot taken by Michelle. Like always, she did a phenomenal job! Of course, you made it easy by being just adorable, didn't you? 

Mama is quite excited to see more pictures to come yet! You are just a gem. She is also excited to start celebrating the holidays with you, especially Christmas, and seeing you and Forrest opening the presents. It will make for wonderful memories. Mama and Daddy are beyond blessed to have you, sweet Frank, in their lives.

Thank you for being you, dear Frank.

Mama, Daddy, and Forrest

Monday, October 26, 2015

FDR is Eleven Months Old

Dear Frankie,

You are now ELEVEN months old. It is becoming more difficult to take your monthly pictures. You are no longer interested in staying still. You are on GO GO GO GO. You want to take on the world now you are able to move quickly, and keep up with your brother. Staying still? No way! You've done enough of that already, right?

You are a month away from your first birthday. Mama has booked your one year old photo session with Michelle. It is tradition that has started with Forrest, and Mama plans to continue this with you, and for future siblings. Traditions are very important to Mama, and she is very excited to be continuing this with you, sweet boy. This is a perfect timing to introduce traditions to you, especially with Halloween around the corner, and the holidays coming up!

You visited your first pumpkin patch. You wore your cute knitted owl hat that Forrest once wore as a baby, and everybody kept complimenting on how adorable you are. It was not surprising to Mama, because it appeared that everyone gravitated to your sweet nature, and kept bestowing you with kisses and hugs. You also enjoyed your first time carving pumpkins with, more like eating the glop out of the pumpkins!

Mama is looking forward to taking you out to trick or treating with Forrest, and Daddy. You will be dressing up as a tiny bat! Forrest has opted to go as a dinosaur. You two are going to be adorable!

You are no longer a toothless gummy little creature. You have ONE tooth, and two more on its way. You haven't been going to bed well these days due to teething pain. Poor boy. You often ask to be comforted more frequently. You love being rocked to sleep. Mama and Daddy have no problem obligating your request. After all, you are only this small once. You like to wake up at 4 am, and have a crib party much to Mama's and Daddy's dismay. Mama doesn't have a nice word to contribute to teething, and sure hope you feel better in no time. It is crazy to see how differently you, and Forrest reacted to teething, however, you are two different people; naturally, you both will have different reactions to the same stimuli.

You are battling a cold, and you've been such a trooper in term of getting through this. With the weather turning colder, and Forrest being in school, Mama and Daddy are anticipating a cold or two along with flu this winter between you, and Forrest! It is a good thing that you will be getting your last set of flu shot at your 12 months wellness check! Once you and Forrest get your last set of flu shot, everyone is protected for the winter, and it should help to combat off some germs. Nonetheless, Mama is rather curious to see how much you've grown since!

Jen has been working hard with you for PT. You are able to cruise freely, and crawl off your stomach. You are doing SO well that Jen feels that there won't be much physical therapy in your future! You most likely have about three to five more sessions left before being officially released. Mama and Daddy are excited with this prospect, because it means the light at the end of long dark tunnel is finally near. Soon, you will be completely DONE with all the treatment for your Torticillis, and maybe just in time for your first birthday??

It has been a very long year in term of treating your health conditions, and the thought of you being finally finished with them is so uplifting. Mama and Daddy are so thankful for people who have worked with you since your diagnoses. They are blessed to have such a great team of doctors, physical therapists, and support from other parents to get through a long year of getting you to a better place. Most of all, Mama and Daddy are so blessed to have YOU. You are definitely a little fighter.

You've been eating a wide array of food, and you love whatever is handed to you. Your current favorite is slow cooked shredded chicken. You enjoy fruit such as watermelon, melon, and pineapple! Mama is planing on introducing yogurt as your first sample for dairy to see how you react. Mama think you might have a touch of dairy intolerance based on eczema worsening from cross contamination, and the food trial will yield better answers soon enough. You won't be introduced to any nuts, and peanuts until your blood test at age of two. You haven't met a food that you dislike. Everyone likes to remark on how well you eat. You are such a foodie! You are going to love Thanksgiving. It has all great food for you to sample!

You are currently in the process of being weaned. You are now down to 4 to 5 feedings a day now that you are eating three meals during the day. When you are closer to twelve months old, Mama will start dropping feeds before your naps, and replace them with snacks. You have been introduced to drinking sippy cup with water until you are allowed to start drinking milk close to your first birthday. You have mastered sipping anything with a straw, just like Forrest, at your age. You prefer drinks with straws over sippy cups. By your first birthday, you should be completely weaned.

It is mind boggling to think that you are no longer in your babyhood, and that you will be a toddler! Imagine that, two little boys running around the home...which is something Mama and Daddy have always envisioned ever since having Forrest. Matter of fact, when Mama got pregnant, she told Daddy that she had really hoped for another boy, and that Forrest and you will have a great brotherly relationship growing up. Now it is the case, and it is going to be so wonderful to watch you grow with Forrest. Most importantly of all, it is going to be wonderful to watch YOU grow up into a person that you are destined to be.


Mama, Daddy, & Forrest

Thursday, September 24, 2015

FDR is Ten Months Old

Dear Frankie,

You are ten months old. You're in double digits!! There is no slowing you down, buddy.

You weighed at 20 pounds, and measured to be at 29 inches tall from your last wellness check with Dr. Karbon. What a tall boy that you were becoming to be! Mama scheduled you, and Forrest at your 12 months wellness check to receive the last set of flu shots, and she was mind blown that the next visit meant you are almost a whole year old! 

In the beginning, you preferred laying on your back to sitting up, and rolling around as a mean to get around rather than crawling. Mama and Forrest were constantly encouraging you to sit up by playing with you, putting on youtube videos of children songs to keep you occupied, and toys nearby for you to learn how to reach them with age-appropriate milestone developments. It had been a lot of work in a disguise of playing, which was a blessing in itself, because you enjoyed doing them without feeling like was a work!

Then suddenly on one early afternoon, you decided it is time to take off with crawling, and you've been unstoppable ever since! Nothing were no longer safe from you, especially the dog food and water dishes!!

You happily keep up after with your brother, and the dog around the house, and Mama is busy trying to keep everything tidy on the floor. Otherwise, it will end up in your mouth. You are a crawling machine. Mama realizes that now life is going to get even busier with two boys to chase after! Jen is impressed with how quickly you are progressing with PT. 

Jen has been teaching you how to cruise. A trick has been implemented ever since, which is using an upside down laundry basket placed in  the center of our living room, because it promotes you to use the holes to pull yourself up, and you enjoy doing this with a lot of help from Mama. In time, you will probably take off with cruising! Right now, it is to strengthen your core muscles, and it has been so helpful in doing so!

Dr. Katie, the chiropractor, has recently released you from her care! She said you have progressed so much, and you had no to very little sign of being out of adjustment with your Torticillis. She suggested for you to come in for an adjustment once in every while to make sure everything was doing great physically. Rock on, little man!  

You've been sampling a lot of vegetables such as Pattypan Squashes, carrots, spinach, bell peppers, onion, butternut squash, zucchini, and mushrooms. You enjoy tasting, and eating them steamed, or pan fried. Only if Forrest follows your suit with eating vegetables! You like baked prunes, even though you tend to spit out the skin, and enjoy eating sweet potato pancakes. You've come to enjoy eating cheerios, and sweet potato puffs! Forrest has been sharing a lot of that with you lately for snack time, which constantly warms Mama's heart to see that. Meat has been recently introduced into your diet. You love shredded chicken. You are definitely an adventurous eater, and nothing stops you from wanting to try any food! 

It is becoming apparent to Mama that you are having a skin condition called Ecezma just like your brother, and parents. Weather is not helping either by becoming very cool, and chilly, which aggravates your skin. You've been getting Ecezma lotion lathered on every evening, and it has been helping to keep your skin moist.

You recently went through a sleep regression, because you had so much on your mind with crawling, and possibly teething. You have turned into a big drooly creature with a mouth rash lately, and everyone have been patiently waiting for a tooth to make its appearance. So far, no appearance. This did not come to Mama as a big surprise, because Forrest was a late teether too. 

Forrest is now in play school (3K) three times a week from Tuesday to Thursday for 2 and half hours. He also is receiving speech therapy for half hour on Mondays and Fridays. You love this time slot, because you get to spend some quality time with Mama, and get a long restful quiet nap time in! Mama suspects that Bea enjoys this quiet down time too!

Forrest also had his annual allergy test check, and Forrest had his blood test scheduled to test for tree nuts in November. Mama talked with Dr. Warpinski about having you tested soon as well. He supported Dr. Karbon's suggestion to wait until you turned a year old to sample dairy, and to receive blood test to rule out a peanut allergy.

You recently celebrated a wonderful, beautiful day with Uncle Spencer, and Aunt Wally for their wedding! You, and Forrest were both absolutely wonderful. It was a fun-filled day for you two with a lot of faces to see, yummy food to sample, spending time with grandparents, grandaunts, and family. It was quite evident that it worn you both out when the weekend was over since both of you got sick, and thankfully have since recovered from.

Halloween is quick approaching. Mama and Daddy are debating if they should go with theme costumes; you, Forrest, and Bea dressing up like dinosaurs and parents dressing up like paleontologists! Or have you to go with your own costume, while Forrest get to dress up like a dinosaur with the dog. You will be participating in your first pumpkin carving, and festivities for Halloween! Mama and Daddy are looking forward to you and Forrest having a blast!


Mama, Daddy, & Forrest

Monday, August 24, 2015

FDR is Nine Months Old

Dear Frankie,

You are NINE months old. In just three months, we will be celebrating your first birthday. Why is it that time is speeding up as you get older? Nonetheless, this serves as a reminder to absorb every moment, and to count our blessings as they come. 

You recently visited the beach, and loved it. You had so much fun sitting in the shade, playing with sand, and a pail of water while Forrest was off swimming in the lake! You boys also went to Milwaukee Zoo for the first time. Forrest had so much fun learning signs, and the facts about the animals. We visited the dinosaur exhibition, which Forrest was absolutely in love with. On the other hand, you were content with sleeping away the entire morning in a comfortable stroller. It was truly a perfect family outing. 

You are officially done with cranial doc band treatment! It came to us as a big surprise when we went in for your last appointment with Dr. Staci, because we were not expecting you to be done with the helmet until September. However, Dr. Staci noticed that there was no space left in your helmet; she decided to take measurements, and scan your head to check whether you had made any progression. As it had turned out, you were at 6 mm, just one mm away from 5 mm goal, and the scan showed that your head shape was close to perfect round. In the duration of helmet treatment, you made 18 mm of improvement, and it was a huge progress you had made in four months! Based on this finding, Dr. Staci decided to graduate you from cranial doc band treatment. Mama and Daddy could not be any prouder than we already were of you, dear Frank. The last growth spurt you went through must have done it for you! Good job, little man, good job! 

Mama, Grandaunt RO, and Grandma took you to Build a Bear store with Forrest. We build Fury the dragon for Forrest, and Chewbacca the doll to become a new wearer for your helmet! You boys loved your stuffed animals, and you often liked to cuddle with Chewbecca as you fell asleep.

As soon as your helmet treatment was completed, you did something started rolling over! Once you realized that rolling enabled you to reach your destination, you started rolling everywhere, and more often than not, you found yourself stuck under random spots! Mama, or Daddy often have to rescue you, and make sure that you don't wind up stuck again.  Sometime, you roll toward Forrest, or Bea to join the fun. You are a rolling bug! It is awesome to see you so mobile now. Mama is going to have her hands full with two very mobile kids!!

Dave has officially released you from his care. It is amazing how far you have come from being a 6 week baby with so many obstacles to overcome. Your head range is amazing, and your tilt is nearly nonexistent. You are still getting your daily stretches, and exercises as well as visiting Dr. Katie every three weeks for an adjustment. Dr. Katie is always remarking how great you feel, and is impressed with how well you've been doing. Mama, and Daddy are so happy with the integral care you've been getting for your Torticillis, because it has been helping you so much.

Due to how successful this integral approach has been for you, Mama and Daddy decided that they would like to see you to continue with PT, and had an early intervention team to come in to evaluate you for home visits. From the evaluation, it was shown that you struggled with balance with sitting unassisted, fine and gross motor skills, and eating. You were said to be two months delayed in those areas. As for social-emotional, language, and cognition; you were just wonderful, and everybody loved you! It was determined that you would benefit from in home PT with Jen in order to help you to improve some of the weaker areas.

You began working with Jen at home. It has been amazing to see how quickly you have been progressing under her care. You started sitting up longer, and longer with play therapy. Play therapy consisted of you playing with your toys that are placed a bit out of reach so you have to teach yourself how to use your hands to balance yourself as you move around. It has been most helpful in teaching you to become more mindful of staying upright. Jen taught Mama a way to enable you to sit up straight by using a rolled up towel behind your back, and neck. You took off after that!Your first official finger food was sliced avocados. You made a huge mess out of it, and everybody were so proud of you for being able to eat finger food without having any struggle with it.

Ever since, you took off with eating finger food, and had no to very little trouble with eating. You were able to pick up food, and bring it to your mouth, then practice by chewing food. No more choking or throwing up! You've had prunes, sweet potato slices, banana, butter squash, avocados, zucchini bread, zucchini fritters, cheerios, and crackers. You came to a point where you no longer needed a towel behind your back...two weeks after PT sessions at home! Food was no longer safe around you anymore! You were always clamoring for food when you saw someone eating!

You are starting to learn how to use a sippy cup. It is a bit confusing for you, yet you are getting the gist of holding a cup, swallowing, and sampling something different. Mama is planning on discussing with Dr. Karbon to see what kind of milk you can be introduced to, most likely soy milk, since there is a history of dairy, and nut allergies in the family.

With you being so successful with eating, Mama is starting to plan on weaning you from nursing, and it is a sad thought for Mama. It is a sad thought, because it means your babyhood is coming to an end soon, and she is not sure if she's ready for that. Ready or not, you will be a toddler before all of us know it! Nonetheless, the weaning process will begin in September, and hopefully, by your first birthday, you will be weaned from nursing!

Jen also had been working with you to get you a-crawlin'. You were unsure of it in the beginning, and fussed quite a lot. Once you realized that it meant moving quicker, you were quite determined to get crawling, even though you had not accomplished this yet. You kept rocking back and forth, trying to stay on your knees, and use your hands to keep yourself in the dog stance. Jen was quite pleased with your incentive to get this done, and she felt that you should able to grasp the concept of crawling in time with a lot of practice!

For a kid who is quite determine not to be on his belly during his awake time (because you are always rolling), you sure love to sleep on your belly, and it is rather befuddling to see you loving it so much. If it makes you happy, our dear boy, then it's all good!

You recently celebrated with rest of the family for Forrest's third birthday, and your baptism! Your Uncle Alex, and Aunt Lauren were thrilled to be your godparents. It was a great day for everybody. You enjoyed a cupcake along with some other yummy food!

Mama is looking forward to your 9-month old wellness check on August 25th to see how much you weigh, and how much you've grown in height. You are definitely tall for a baby, and Mama is rather curious to find out what your height is. When you stand up straight, with a help from Mama or Daddy, you are almost at half way to Forrest's height! Mama and Daddy think you will be the tall one, but time will only tell.

We are looking forward to see what this month brings to you, Dear Frank. We love you so much, and we are so blessed to have such a ray of sunshine of you in our lives.

Mama, Daddy, & Forrest

Friday, August 21, 2015

Forrest is THREE Years Old

Dear Forrest,

You are THREE years old.

Mama is amazed at how quickly these three years have gone by. She no longer feels like she 'had recently given birth' to you, yet the memory of holding you in her arms for the very first meeting is still so fresh in her mind. Mama has learned that motherhood is a juxtaposition in a sense that with her child's growing up, a mother feels an ache that her baby is no longer a baby, yet her heart is so full of pride that her child is becoming a fascinating, fun little person.

Yet another year has passed. You continue to amaze us with your infectious energy, a rambunctious laughter, a constant absorbent knowledge of the world around you, a passion for life, and love of people in your life. You are a perfect puzzle fitting into our lives. It is hard to remember what life has been like before you came along, and to be honest, we really don't want to remember, because you bring so much happiness to us on a daily basis. 

This past year has been both wonderful, and not so wonderful. As it is customary for every two-year old to go through terrible twos; you have not been most certainly exempt from this stage, and to make this even a wilder ride, throw in your strong-will nature into the terrible twos! It has been a learning curve not just for you, but for your parents as well! Needless to say, it has been a big adventure with you, our dear boy.

You love dinosaurs, dragons, trucks, cars, farm animals, farming, and animals. It is not surprising that your favorite signs are anything relating to animals! You know your ABC's both spoken, and signed. You love showing off your knowledge of ABC's to family, and friends. You always end up with a puffed chest, and a big smile on your face as you finish reciting it. It always bring joy to Mama and Daddy to have you to be so proud of your accomplishments, passions, and love of things that bring happiness to you.

Every night, you are tucked in your bed; you request a bucket of dinosaurs, stuffed dinosaurs, favorite books, and ABC puzzle board. You are always talking to yourself in your own language, and it is funny to hear you shout out ABC's as you are falling asleep. More often than not, once Mama and Daddy are sure you are fast asleep, Mama sneaks in your bedroom to silently tidy toys off your bed so you will have a room to sleep during the night! Otherwise, you would have fallen out of bed from the lack of space in your bed.

Currently, Mama and Daddy are working on getting you enrolled with school for speech therapy. There will be an Individualized Education Program (IEP) meeting to determine what kind of placement you will be put in--whether it will be preschool once or twice a week, or a private speech therapy to promote your language development. You will definitely rock at this. Mama and Daddy are anxious to see what kind of growth will occur from you being in the program for speech!

You are so fiercely independent, and crave to do everything by yourself. It can be a challenge in itself, because Mama wants to do things for you. She had to learn how to give up some of her control, and realize that this is HOW you learn. You are very much so of a "hand-on" learner. You need to interact with something in order to absorb facts, steps, and how it works. You need to do it not once, not twice, or not three times, but MULTIPLE times. 

You challenge. A rule has to be tested so many times before you realize that it is set in rule, and will not change regardless how you approach it. You test Mama, or Daddy by pushing their buttons. You can act petulant, angry, and stubborn when you feel that others are overstepping your bounds of getting what you want! You don't handle it well when people try to tell you what to do. What a stubborn little child that you are! You are very insistent of doing things YOUR way on YOUR own term. On some days, Mama want to send you to the Zoo!

However, this is not a bad thing! Mama and Daddy want to nurture your need to challenge into something positive rather than squashing it. If you don't challenge, and constantly obey instead, then how do you learn? A blind obedience may lead to you to not question. If you don't question, then where can you get your answers from? If you don't have answers, then how can you be a team player, and lead? This is a hope we have for you: for you to never stop questioning, challenging, and getting answers to your thoughts.

By challenging, you also are persistent. Being persistent is a good thing! It may not always lead to getting what you want. You may not always achieve after all of your hard work. But that is okay, because you did not give up, and in the end, you do still get the pay off. The pay off is your strength, patience, and character that has been developed from not giving up.

Despite this strong will nature you have, you are starting to understand what the boundaries are, and this teaches you how to be respectful not only to yourself, but to others, and to the things around you. You understand when you need to cool down, and to situate yourself in a calm manner. You are a very polite boy; always saying please, and thank you. When asked, you clean your mess, and put your things away in proper places. This makes Mama and Daddy very happy to know that you are being raised into a decent young man. Even though you like doing things on your own term, you also like to make people happy around you. While this is perfectly fine to want please others occasionally in order to be a good team player, it is also important to remember that you can also focus on making yourself happy, because there is only ONE you.

You love to help. You enjoy stacking up dishes, or taking it out to hand them to Mama. You enjoy helping Mama prep for meals by standing on your red chair, handing over a specific ingredient to Mama, and transferring prepped food into a dish. While she is cleaning, you happily hold the broom dustpan, and dump the content into the trash. You love sitting on Daddy's lap on a mowing rider as you both mow the lawn. When Daddy and Mama is working on their garden, you throw weeds in a bag, and toss dirt onto the seeds. You love spraying water on the garden. When Frank's dirty diaper needs to be thrown away, you excitedly carry it to the trash, and rejoice in doing a task! Mama hope you will apply your desire to help in helping others down the road, and be a good friend to many. 

You are fearless, and bold. You face on your fears without a second thought. For instance, you hold on to Mama's hands as you leap into a pool a few times, then you decide that you no longer need to hold on to Mama, and you leap into the water by yourself! You walk up to strangers, and gladly accept their conversations, as much to Mama's cringe. She would like you to be less bold sometimes, but then that won't make you YOU.

Even with your bold nature, you do have one fear that you struggle to overcome, and it is your fear of doctor visits. It is not surprising to see that you have a bit of anxiety surrounding doctor appointments due to your past testing for allergies, and two trips to ER. You make your disapproval known by screaming, kicking, and crying every time we go into a waiting room. Mama suspects that a part of this stems from your inability to communicate your anxiety, and to understand what is being communicated to you. With a help from speech therapy, Mama is sure that you will be able to outgrow your anxiety of  visiting doctors!

Oh my, what a social butterfly that you are. People are always complimenting on how outgoing you are. You don't give Mama, or Daddy a second glance as you run into the circle of other kids, and play with them. You open up so much to people around you, so they naturally gravitate to your charismatic nature. Mama can see you becoming an extrovert with many friends flocking toward you. This is where Mama sees so much of Daddy in you. She can already imagine having a few friends coming over with you, wanting to join us for dinner, and having a company for the evening for a few hours.

You are in the process of toilet training. It is not an easy feat for you, and Mama both. There has been days when Mama thinks you aren't ready, and then there are days when you surprise Mama by using the potty! It is Mama's hope that you will be potty trained by 3 and half, but we shall see, won't we!

You are a wonderful big brother. You are always protecting Frank from Bea when Bea gets too rough with him by licking excessively, barking, or jumping on him. You smile, and kiss Frank. You even share your toys with him! It brings a great joy to Mama, and Daddy to see you loving on Frank. Mama, and Daddy look forward to having your relationship grow, and become stronger with Frank as you both grow up.

You have such a zest for life, and it shows through your big smile.Your loud laughter echoes as you run around wildly, and you run into people with such a hard thump as you give them hugs. You live things rather intensely. You like make yourself heard. You are not afraid to show your emotions either through your scowl, a stinky eye as you manage your mischief, a gentle kiss on Frank's head, a hard shove at a very wiggly puppy harassing your brother, a wet noisy kiss on Mama's cheek, a shrill scream as Daddy toss you over his shoulder onto the bed while wrestling, and excitedly clapping as you show off your ABC's. You are full of flair, drama, and extravagance! Life is rarely dull with your big personality!

We are so excited to see what your third year will bring to you, and us. You are such a blessing in our lives, and we are so proud of you.


Mama, Daddy, & Frank

Thursday, July 23, 2015

FDR is EIGHT Months Old

Dear Frankie,

You are EIGHT months old! Can time slow down? As time is speeding up, as it seems, Mama is cherishing every little moment of your baby hood, because she remembers how fleeting it was with Forrest, and Forrest is nearly three years old already. Soon, Mama will be saying the exactly same thing about you. Instead of being sad at the prospect of how quick your babyhood is going, Mama is enjoying every moment with you by treasuring your baby chubs, cheeks, and giggles. 

You are eating two times a day, because nursing alone is not enough to keep you full these days. You have moved on to chunkier pureed food, and your favorite food remains to be sweet potato. Even though you are eating chunkier purees, you are still having a bit of hard time swallowing, and it is why Mama continues to go with purees instead of normal cut up food (baby led weaning). You enjoy eating mixture of vegetable such as peas and zucchini in grounded up rice or oatmeal. You love eating Gramps Dave's applesauce for breakfast. You like to feed yourself by putting spoon in your mouth, and often grab spoon away from Mama. It is allowed for you to go town with food, and sometimes, it can turn quite messy with glops of purees falling to the floor, on yourself, or even on others! It is a good thing that Beatrice is on clean up duty, and likes to clean up after you! 

The 4th of July was celebrated by a lot of sleeping. You slept through the fireworks! Mama said it was a second child syndrome for sure, and Daddy jokingly said you could sleep through a hurricane. You really did not care for the parade that much, and didn't fuss until almost to the end. It was a bit too hot for you to enjoy the festivities. Nonetheless, you were content to be held. When you were up north at the lake by Grandma Bobbie's camper, you were introduced to swimming for the first time, and you were not very sure what to think of it. As your tiny piggies touched the water's surface, you bent up your knees out of surprise, and was not very impressed! However, with some coaxing, and holding by Daddy; you grew to accept being in the water, but not for too long though, because you began to fuss. So off you went, little man, and you were perfectly content to sit on Mama's lap to watch Forrest swim like a fish! 

You like to roll over onto your belly, and reach to the toys around you. You still have not mastered going over because your left arm tend to be in the way. Even so, you are quite determined to get what you want by kicking your squishy thighs as you move forward. You have a napping buddy now! Beatrice loves to nap underneath your crib while you are napping. Once you are up, Bea is also up, and both of you are refreshed for next few hours until your next nap! You still nap twice a day, and you are not as good napper as your brother is at your age. However, unlike your brother, you are a great sleeper at the night. You continue to wake up once a night...more likely in wee hours of the morning between 4 to 5:30 am to be fed.

You smile, giggle, and talk quite a lot. You are not afraid to make yourself heard when you are ready to be fed, to be held, or when you're done playing on the floor for tummy time. You are enjoying tummy time more these days, and can tolerate it for long stretches of time. It doesn't bother you as much as it used to. Mama, and Daddy have noticed that you are getting stronger with your upper body strength. You go, Frank, you go.

You recently discovered a new game that you love: Peek-A-Boo! You love to hold any fabric like a shirt, a blanket, or a towel rag over your face, and kick your feet until someone comes along to take the item off your face. You scream in glee as the said person gasps as he/she sees you. You are such a funny little man. Forrest is starting to become more interested in you by playing with you, sharing his toys with you (which is a BIG BIG deal), and you absolutely LOVE him. You bright up every time he is in your proximity, and spends time with you. You love your brother so dearly. It's absolutely sweet. 

You are still in cloth diapers for the daytime. You prefer it over disposable diapers, and are less prone to rashes in cloth diapers. Mama still thinks it is one of the best investments that she has made for you boys to use cloth diapers, and hope to continue using them for your future siblings. It saves so much money, and is better for the environment! 

Dr. Staci has decided that you will be evaluated once again by the end of summer, instead of this month, to determine when your helmet will be coming off for good. She wants to see more improvement in your head's circumference, before ending your treatment. To everybody else, your head looks amazing, and could not be any more pleased with how great your head looks. 

Dave is still working with you. You are able to lift your head with the helmet on, and hold yourself up more these days. You are finding strength by laying on your belly, and doing tummy time. Dave is pleased with how well you are progressing. Your head range is nearly normal. At this point, it is matter of working on gaining bodily strength, and being able to hit developmental milestones. He is not worried with your progression, because you are making small improvements, and working hard these days! Dave is planning on releasing you by the end of August when you are 9 months old!

Because of PT ending at Bellin, Mama has decided to contact 0-3 (birth to three) program in her town about home visits from a PT to continue working with you. Daddy, and Mama feel that you could benefit with additional help even though you have made a HUGE stride in term of getting upper body strength, head range, and the head tilt. They want you to get all advantage you can get to continue improve yourself. Currently, it is in the works that you will be getting PT for home visits.

You are beginning to sit up! You are able to hold yourself up for a few seconds to few minutes at time before toppling over. Some days it is easier for you, and some others, it is harder. Just like you with rolling, Mama is not in a big rush for you to hit this milestone, and know you will achieve it when you are ready. You are such an awesome kiddo! 

Mama, and Daddy are talking about taking you boys for your first family trip to Milwaukee Zoo! The Zoo is having a Dinosaur theme, which is something Forrest is quite obsessed about, and it will be fun to visit the Zoo to see  all the animals as well. There has been a talk of making a trip down to Florida perhaps by next summer, or two summers from now. It will be fun to go as a family, and spend time together on the beach! 

A great thing happened recently; same sex marriage has been legalized, and it has made your parents happy to know that you boys will grow up in the world where human rights are shared, embraced, and acknowledged by all. One day, you will look at this in the same way how your parents once looked at the history of interracial marriage, and have a hard time believing that our society once had opposed something that should have been normalized since day one. Mama hopes that this will continue to reinforce your values of love, compassion, tolerance, and respect for others.


Mama, Daddy, & Forrest 

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Anniversary #4: Finding Blessings in Our Losses

Our fourth wedding anniversary silently crept into the midst of chaos: a baby's food falling onto the floor while the puppy eagerly lapped it up before the mess gets cleaned up, a loud incessant talking from a toddler slowly turning into a pre-schooler boy as he kicked his feet underneath the dining table, a quick rattling of "honey-to-do" list being signed across the room to a husband hurrying his way out with keys in his hand, and balancing dirty dishes on my free arm as I balanced a happy drooling baby on my other arm. It dawned to me that today is our anniversary, and it surprised me how quickly it came. 

Has it been really four years already? 

In these four years, I have experienced two pregnancies, and births of two beautiful boys, a transformation from being a married couple to a family of four, and hurtling through life changes that inevitably changed our marriage into something richer. 

With our increasingly busy lives being rocked back, and forth by so many events recently, we have come to learn how to keep our marriage strong, fresh, and alive. It has not been an easy feat with two little boys, a rambunctious puppy, bustling career, endless doctor appointments, and family time. It is rather eerily amazing how my sister-in-law's letter echoes exactly what we are going through right now: 

Stuart & Ashley, 
Wow! 4 years already! I hope by now you have made me an auntie! 
The first few years go by quickly, and your relationship changes. You begin to know what 
comes next: I hope that you are both still looking for ways to keep your 
relationship fresh, and young! Never forget the feelings you had on the magical day of your 
wedding! Wishing you many more years of wedded bliss! 
Love, Jennifer

With our chaotic, crazy lives; our marriage has often taken a back-burner. Our marriage is not as impulsive as going on a last-minute trip to Door County just because we feel like it. It is not as romantic as having a candle-lit dinner spilling into a late night conversation. Instead of impulsiveness, and whimsicality; our children takes up most of our time for each other, and we often find ourselves smiling to each other with our boys tucked underneath our arms between us as our puppy dozes softly on the edge of our bed. 

It is fortunate that I have a wonderful husband to hold on as my rock through the hurtling madness called life. I believe that Stu feels the same way toward me. This is when I am most grateful for our solid marriage. We may not be as romantic, as impulsive, and as carefree as we used to be when we first got married, yet our marriage has evolved into something much deeper, and solid. This deepness, and solidness of our marriage has been allowing us to stand upright on a rock of foundation while the losses continually collided with us. 

Many losses have rocked us in this recent year; a loss of our first fur baby, Layla, a several losses of our friends' family members, a loss of our grandparent, a loss of friends' pets, a loss of a family friend, and so many more. It has been so difficult to bear a constant on-slaughter of sad news, and it has not been easy to feel such sorrow in our hearts. 

One of our losses became a remarkable gain for us. I may come off sounding wrong, or strange, and there is no really right way to convey exactly what I mean in words. This loss pertains to our son, Frank. At six weeks old, Frank, our second child, had been diagnosed with Torticillis, and Plagiocephaly. Gone is the carefree pace of watching Frank grow without the gray cloud of medical mumbo-jumbo hanging over our heads. Gone is the luxury of walking through any public places with Frank without getting rude stares from the strangers. Gone is all the time in the world. Time has been replaced with a lot of driving trips to doctor appointments for the head correction therapy, physical therapy sessions, investing in home exercises, and having to dance the dance of taking two steps back every time we take a step forward. As a second time mom, I learn that I am not always immune in knowing that our child is delayed with achieving milestones as I watch my friends' babies achieve theirs on time, or earlier, or quicker. 

In its place, a swell of pride has grown by knowing that Frank has been overcoming so many challenges that an ordinary baby hasn't encountered, celebrating momentous accomplishments when Frank DOES hit a milestone, and despite worrying, there is more relaxation in knowing that Frank will be just fine. By having a baby with medical issues, I meet, and befriend wonderful mamas going through the same struggles. My friendships grow richer not just with my new friends, but also with some old friends, whom I could not connect with earlier, who also have children with special needs. I become an advocate for Frank, and other babies with the same issues. By this, I become a stronger person as a mother for not just Frank, but for Forrest as well. This is a blessing in so many ways.

With all the struggles whirling all around us, I am so blessed to have a husband by my side, who happens to be my rock. While I am usually the one that does the bulk of attending to doctor appointments, bringing both kids with me to places, and scheduling all the commitments to fit everything in without compromising one over other, Stu often fades into the background, silent, and forgotten, because our society has far often focused more on mothers of children with medical issues, and special needs. More often than not, I struggle with trying to explain the importance of Stu's role in our family, and especially so, in our marriage...until I came across to this beautiful excerpt from a blog that hit the nail on its head perfectly. 

Brenna, the blogger of her blog named Blessed, said it perfectly: "Maybe you can't always be there physically; though you desperately wish you could be-but you ask questions after each therapy appointment, you call the pharmacy to get refills on prescriptions your child needs. You support your family in the best way you know how. You work hard at your job to earn raises to cover the co pays, medications, and therapy sessions. You stay. You might not think this is commendable-of course, you stay, right?-but I have seen it so much. Fear and stress and grief and anger cause so many fathers of special needs babies to leave. You stay and you selflessly put your family's needs before yours. Maybe you don't talk about it as much, or show it emotionally, but you feel it as deeply as mothers do. You feel helpless, wanting to do everything in your power to protect your children from pain. And you love, and lead fiercely, wrapping your strong arms around your baby so gently, and carefully." 

Yes, this is exactly why Stu is my rock, and in of our family. Our marriage acts as a glue, adhering everything important to ourselves, in the face of adversities, losses, and hardships. We create our own happiness, and count blessings from our sorrows. It encourages us to love more freely, judge less, find solace in our tears, to reach out to those who matters to us, to allow others hold on to us for support, and to live life more deeply. Our marriage continues to bloom, even in the face of a wintery storm, and become into something beautiful. 

We may not always been able to keep our marriage new, in a sense of being adventurous, impulsive, and romantic; we still do find time over a fire, working on our garden, or watching an episode or two of our favorite show on Netflix. Our marriage has grown stronger, deeper, and richer. We know, and understand that this time in our lives is only temporary, and we are enjoying every moment, because we know we will miss this time with our kids someday. We often find fleeting moments to laugh as our eyes locked across the room while our kids are screaming, or running around like a bunch of animals in the zoo! With our children, their infectious energy keeps us young. With our love for each other, our marriage remains fresh, and carries the same message from the day we married--friendship, love, and happiness. 

Stu returns back into the hallway leading into our kitchen, and quickly called out to remind me, I love you,and headed out. I smile. Yes, I am incredibly blessed.

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

FDR is SEVEN Months Old

Dear Frankie,

You are SEVEN months old!

It is a special day, because today is the anniversary of the date when your parents got married, and even more special that you are turning 7 months old. It is such a whirl to see you grow, and become a wonderful happy boy. Mama, and Daddy barely can remember the days before you, and Forrest came into their lives, and it doesn't matter about life pre-kids, because life has become richer with you two in it. 

At your 6 months wellness check, your statistics showed that you weighed at 17 and half pounds, 27 inches tall, and have 44 CM head circumference. According to WHO, it basically meant that you remained to be a tall, and skinny kid with a big head! You received vaccinations, which made you sleepy, and fussy for a couple days. Once that cleared up, you were good to go! Dr. Karbon said that you don't have to see her until 9 months wellness check in late August.

You had an X-ray done on your hip, and the x-rays were sent to a pediatrician orthopedist. A good news came back, showing that your hip was perfectly clear, and everything checked out great. It made Mama, and Daddy super happy for you. It meant one less thing to worry about! 

Dave continued to work with you on your physical therapy. You went from 72 percentile to 85 percentile for the head range! Dave was confident that you are approaching an end of your therapy sessions with him. He wanted to keep you under his care a bit longer to make sure that everything continued to progress well.

You had a different PT coach at one of your sessions, due to Dave out sick, and Mama learned a different tip how to make tummy time more pleasing for you. Ever since, you have been tolerating tummy time a lot better, upward to ten minutes at time, with each diaper change! What helped was putting on a Youtube musical video to keep you entertained during your exercise. You continued to get your neck stretched out twice, sometimes three times, a day. It became harder to do neck exercises, because you learned how to fight it more. What a strong kid that you are!

You continue to do well with your helmet treatment. Despite your numbers plateauing, your head is starting to look more, and more round these days! Daddy, and Mama could not be any more pleased with how well you're doing. Dr. Staci thinks you might be done with your helmet by the end of July. She is hoping to see that your number will go down from 8MM to 5MM. At this point, it is no longer medical necessity to fix your head; nonetheless, Dr. Staci is somewhat picky, and would like to try get your head as round as possible. To us, your head looks phenomenal, and any imperfection you may still have after treatment would not matter. After all, no one in the world has a perfect dome of a head!

You started rolling onto both of your sides! In time, you will be able to roll all way around with a lot of prompting, and practicing. You go, little man! You are so strong in your belly, and you can sit up at an angle, which makes Mama laugh. When you are sitting up, you are able to sit up for a minute before toppling over. Wow!

You have started eating solids! Initially, Mama wanted you to try BLW; baby-led weaning, which meant no pureed food, but rather regular food cut up in small pieces, but you had a hard time swallowing textured food. Due to this, Mama decided to start with purees for you, and it was much easier for you to handle. You had sweet potatoes, guacomole, apple sauce, and squash so far. It was a bit confusing for you at first to start eating something so different from breastmilk, and once you realized how yummy some food tasted, you enjoyed eating them! You love to feed yourself, and create a huge mess. Daily bath is becoming a must!

Dr. Karbon discussed with Mama about types of food to give to you, because of your brother's allergies to dairy, eggs, and peanut/nuts. Even though Forrest had outgrown both dairy, and eggs; Mama still wanted to err on a caution side to make sure that you did not end up with the same allergies, and was glad to have a discussion with your pediatrician about this. Dr. Karbon said no eggs, and no dairy until you turned one year old, then no nuts/peanuts until you turned two years old. Mama decided she would have to ask Dr. Warpinski (Forrest's allergist) about having peanut trial for you at his office, rather than at home, and put Forrest at the risk of having peanut butter in the house.

You have been sleeping through the night consistently for the past month. It is as if as soon as you turned six months old, a magical number, because poof, you started sleeping from 7 pm until 5 am! Mama definitely feels like a new woman these days!

You are now on a schedule for naps in your crib. You often have 2-3 naps a day, but usually just two, and go to bed by 7 pm. Your longest nap is usually in the morning from 9-11 am, then your second nap is usually between 2-4 pm. It is nice, because you get your rest, while Mama gets to spend time with Forrest, and Forrest get to enjoy this one-on-one time with Mama. While Forrest's, and your naps overlap briefly, Mama gets to catch up on her sewing projects, which makes her happy, because she has been missing her sewing!

It is wonderful to see you, and Forrest interact, and have your brotherly relationship grow over the time. Soon, before Mama knows it, you will be crawling all over the place, trying to keep up with your brother, and the dog!

We love you so much, our little sunshine.

Mama, Daddy, & Forrest 

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

FDR is SIX Months Old

Dear Frankie,

You are SIX months old. It is hard to believe that you are celebrating your half birthday already. It feels like it is still yesterday when Mama gave birth to you. Time has a funny way of speeding up, and allowing moments to blur all into together. You are still Mr. Sunshine, loves to laugh, coo, and smile. You are such a happy baby, and everybody is always commenting on how much you love to smile.

You are on the verge of being done with physical therapy sessions! You have gained a strong head control, and full range of head mobility. It helps that you have both Forrest, and Bea, our Basset puppy, to track as they zoom around by you. Tummy time is slowly becoming easier on you as well. While you haven't rolled over, it is okay, because each baby has their own timetable with succeeding milestones, and you've already overcome so much with Torticillis diagnosis. You are already attempting to roll over by flipping over to your side, and it's just matter of time before you are able to flop over on your stomach. Just take your time, little man, and we will rejoice the day when you finally manage to do this.

You can sit up with assistance. You're already sitting at the dining table with us! You love being able to sit in the highchair, and watch us dine. Soon, you will be joining us! Mama is brainstorming your first choices of food. Hopefully Farmer's Market will be starting up soon, so Mama can gather yummy fruits, and vegetables for you to try! Even better is that Mama, and Daddy are about to plant their garden, Mama is looking forward to harvesting, and canning this fall. Hopefully, you'll love fresh food on your plate throughout the summer into the fall.

Something exciting has happened to you, my dear boy. There had been an earlier opening for your helmet to be painted, and Paula painted your helmet! It was worth the wait!! You definitely have been rocking your helmet ever since. It definitely did ease a lot of people's stares, and allowed them to approach Mama with questions, which Mama did not mind answering, and explaining about your diagnoses.

You've come a long way with term of fixing your flat. You originally started at 24MM of abnormality in the head shape, and went down to 8 MM! Imagine that, all in 6 weeks! Mama was told that once you hit 5 MM, you will be done with helmet therapy, after a few extra weeks of careful monitoring to ensure that the numbers stays the same.

Hopefully by mid-summer, you will be all done with needing the helmet. Your head is starting to look fantastic, and Mama could not be any prouder of you than she already is.

You met your Aunt (really, she's your second cousin, but we don't have to concern ourselves with official titles), Lauren, and Uncle Joey, for the first time! While it was great to finally meet, and catch up with Lauren, and Joey; Mama sure wished that they lived much closer...maybe one day?! Even if not, it did not matter, because a family will always be a family! Lauren, and Joey absolutely doted on you, and said nothing but wonderful things about you. You definitely loved their attention, and was more than happy to be held by them.

You are now 17 and half pounds. Daddy has been calling you Frank the Tank these days. Isn't Daddy silly? You are definitely tall for your age, and you are already sporting 9 months clothes! While they are a bit baggy on you width wise, they fit you perfect length-wise, and it's crazy with how quickly you are shooting up like a weed these days.

Everybody in the family had been battling with one sickness after another for nearly a month. Here it is to hoping that germs will stay away this time! On top of this battle with germs, you also went through six months sleep regression for about two weeks, and much to Mama's relief, you went back to your usual schedule one night.

This family is on a verge of change once again. You see, Mama's Jeep is quickly being outgrown by bulky car seats, and a traveling kennel cage for Beatrice. Daddy's Kia car is just too small to fit a family of four, plus a dog. Daddy, and Mama know it is time to upgrade for a bigger vehicle. Because of this, Daddy, and Mama are shopping for a van to accommodate everybody, and it has been a work in progress to find a perfect fit! It will be a bit weird to trade in the Jeep for a van, yet at the same time, it will be great to finally be able to drive together.

It is hard to believe that you are six months old already, dear boy. In other six months, you will be a year old!!! Ack, Mama isn't ready to think about that just quite yet!

We love you very much, sweet boy.

Mama, Daddy, & Forrest

Friday, April 24, 2015

FDR is FIVE Months Old

Dear Frankie,

You are FIVE months old. You are becoming heavier, and heavier these days. Mama thinks you are in 15-20 pounds range. You are wearing 6 months clothes. The clothes are a bit big on you yet, however, length-wise, they fit you just fine. Baby clothes are funny like that. You are still being exclusively breast-fed. Mama isn't planning on giving you solids until month 6; once you have hit 6th month mark, then Mama will see if you are ready for baby-led weaning. It basically means you will be introduced to normal solid food rather than pureed food. However, if your neck strength is still weak, and you're having a hard time sitting up, then it's home made pureed food. It's wait, and see at this point, and a decision will be made by then. 

You celebrated your first Easter! You looked quite sharp in your little bow tie, and outfit, even though you were quite intent on expressing your disapproval by having three blow-outs in it. Mama managed to save it, then dry it, and put you in three times before she gave up. Silly baby, you. Soon, there will be more holidays for you to enjoy. 

You are in your cranial doc band full time now, which consists of 23 hours day cycle, and you have a one hour break from the helmet wear daily. During that break, Mama spends the time cleaning your helmet really well to get the stink out, and to wash your hair to get sweat, along with hair mats, out. Then she savors the time kissing all over your head, and holding you against her chest without the helmet being in the way until bedtime.

Much to your parents' surprise, you have adjusted pretty well to wearing your helmet. You rarely fuss with it on. Mama has been making sure you remain comfortable, and cool by putting you in light outfits. At the night, you sleep in a light cotton sleeper, and there has not been any trouble with you staying cool at night with the helmet on. 

You have been sleeping your crib for a month now. It has been a relatively easy transition for you, and it surprised Mama how easy it is for you to make the switch. This is where all the stuff Mama has learned from Forrest comes in so handy for your transition. Once you hear the music going in the background, and your belly is quite full from nursing, you are out like light, and stay asleep until your 3 AM feeding. You are usually up between 6:30-7:00 am with Forrest every morning.

Wearing a helmet to bed was a bit of an adjustment for you. The first night was rough on you, and you had a hard time finding your sweet spot to get cozy until you found that sleeping on your side was much more comfortable than sleeping on your back. Forrest started sleeping on his side around five months old, and he turned out to be just fine. Because of this, Mama, and Daddy weren't worried about you sleeping off your back as long as you were comfortable.

You don't miss being swaddled, and find your blankets very comfortable to sleep with. Mama is using the same trick with you that she did with Forrest. The blanket is tucked onto the edge of the mattress on the sides, which prevents you from pulling it out, and getting tangled with your blanket. With the blanket being tucked securely into the sides of the mattress, it feels almost like you being swaddled, and it helps your wiggly legs to be safely tucked underneath. You prefer sleeping on your side ever since you learned how to roll over to your right! Mama has yet seen you rolling to your left, which is your "bad" side.

You take between two to three naps a day. Out of three naps, you usually have one very long nap, and you don't have a predictable nap schedule down just quite yet. Once your nap schedule is more predictable, you will start sleeping in your crib instead of your glider. It is funny how as how you are becoming more consistent with your naps, Forrest is becoming more inconsistent with his naps, and Mama can't seem to win with having both of you to nap at the same time! 

You had a small regression with the helmet on. You tilted your head a bit more, and had difficulty with tummy time. However, with each passing day, you built your strength to hold up your head straight, and to lift your upper body off the floor during tummy time. Mama continued to find different ways to promote your neck, and upper body strength.

You had your second hip scan. It came back showing that you had some immaturity in your hip. The information was faxed over to orthopedic pediatrician to look over the result regarding your hip. Mama was told that if there was something warranted to be seen, then the orthopedic pediatrician was going to call your parents. Otherwise, this was something that has to be waited until your third scan around six months old. Because of a long time frame from this result to your next scan result, Mama, and Daddy decided not to worry about this until they had more answers about your hip.

Your next appointment with Dr. Karbon is not until end of May, which is your sixth month wellness check, and in the meanwhile; you are still visiting Dr. Katie for chiropractic care, along with doing physical therapy sessions with Dave, and you are doing great at both. You continue to receive PT at home by stretching, and doing tons of tummy time.

Your infant car seat carrier has gone into a retirement. Mama is not sure if that car seat, which had seated both you, and Forrest, will be used again for a third baby. So it is a bit bittersweet to pack up the infant car seat, and say so long to it. You are now riding in a style, and comfort! Your new car seat is Britax Marathon Cowmooflague Clickfit  car seat. You seem to be so much more comfortable, and less squashed in it. The challenge is since you are still unable to sit up, Mama has to figure out how to "transport" you from the car, and into places. This is where Ergo carrier comes in so handy! You are put in the Ergo carrier, and problem solved, Mama doesn't have to worry about figuring out how to sit you up in shopping cart, or having her arms get tired while holding you.

You continue to be such a sunshine in our lives. This is where your theme of nursery room, You are My Sunshine by Johnny Cash, come in so fitting. It is a metaphor to what is going on in your life. The grey skies represent your health issues, such as Torticillis, doctor appointments, PT sessions, and all the medical jumbo mumbo that you are overcoming like a BOSS, and you are the sunshine that shines through a storm of problems. You are always cooing, laughing, and smiling. It is not very often that you are unhappy. Even during your appointments, doctors, and PT coach are always commenting on how happy you are.

Yes, you are such sunshine in our lives. Please always be such a happy little baby that you are.

Mama, Daddy, & Forrest