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Sunday, May 3, 2009

I've Loved These Days

Chinese New Year

"No, Floyd. No, Floyd!"

When I asked her if she wanted a sip of my smoothie, I didn't think she'd slam the rest of it.

Happy Birthday to me!

Uncle D and Nana!

I fit perfectly on top of Mommy's baby bump!

Oh, I wanted this!

"Whoa, Grammy, this is a good one!!!"

Oy...opening all these presents is exhausting. When do we do cake?

I don't have time for a fork. I need to just use my hands to shove it in.

Ever since I was around 19 or 20 years old, I have always considered "I've Loved These Days," by Billy Joel, to be the representative song for my life. I'm assuming that everyone has at least one song that sums up their life and for me "I've Loved These Days" is it.

It came on my IPOD when I was walking Floyd this morning and I realized that although it may lend itself more towards the years before Cody, Frankie and even Floyd, there are still several parts that presently remain true--namely, the title.

Frankie just recently turned two-years-old (she loves to tell you that if you ask her) and as I look back on our brief time with her, there are already a montage of memories and experiences to behold. Some are sad, some are scary, some are funny, some are triumphant and some are frustrating, but there is one common thread that not only holds all of the memories together-- it has also led us to the following conclusion:

The kid we picked up is not the same kid that is living with us today.

I'm not sure when it happened, or how it happened, but I dare anyone to disagree that Ms. Frankie Jade Coden has become a product of her parents. She is us. She is a complete and total mixture of her father and myself. It is absolutely uncanny. In fact, she is MORE than us. She is amplified and she is overemphasized. She is actually an exaggerated version of us.

For example, When I walk through the mall, I usually have a smile on my face and my eyes are constantly moving so I don't miss anything. When Frankie walks through the mall, she has no trouble keeping up with me and she has the same smile on her face, but she has to take it to the exteme. She has to wave and say"Hi" to everyone who passes by like she is the Ambassador of Somerset Mall, she has to go into each and every store, and she has to keep her sunglasses on because, well... I don't really know why she has to keep her sunglasses on, but she does.

What else? Oh, there's more...

It is no secret to anyone who knows me that I love cake. Frankie doesn't just love it, she lives for it. Cake trumps everything. I know, I know--who doesn't like cake? BUT, besides me, I don't really know of anyone who loses complete and total focus when cake is in the vicinity. If we prompt "Who wants cake?" It is undoubtedly my kid who yells "Me!!!!" the loudest. She is either first in line or the first one at the table, impatiently waiting for her cake--and if there is ice cream to go with it, all the better. What's more, since she is invariably the first one to finish, she has no shame about going right up to the hostess, plate in hand, and saying "I...want... sum... moah... cake... pahleez." And, really, who can refuse that?

It's like I birthed her. I can't even believe I didn't. And she's not just mine--she's Cody's too:

It kills me when Cody pulls out the CD of all the different bugles from camp and we play the morning wake-up "Reveille" call. Frankie goes crazy. She starts dancing and going nuts. She was only there one summer and camp is IN HER. It's in her like it's in her daddy. It's a natural fit, for both of them. Cody has been singing "Friends and Taps" before we put her to bed most nights and we realized last night that she is actually starting to learn the words.

There is no shortage of self confidence in Frankie and it's very rare that we see a shy or sad side. She is a happy, funny, bright, resilient and well-adjusted kid who is living and loving her life. She wakes up in a good mood every morning excited for what her new day will bring. It's infectious. I'm so proud of who she is and I'm constantly amazed by something new every day. There are parts of me that wish I could bottle and preserve her because I can't imagine her being more fun than she is right now.

Am I going to miss the carseats and diapers? No, but I will miss the "OK, Mah-mee!" when I ask her to throw something out, put something back or throw her sippy in the sink... Am I going to miss the backaches that come from bending over at bathtime? No, but I will miss when the frequent trips that Frankie makes to the junk drawer, pulling out Snickers or Kit Kats at 7:30 A.M. and saying "These??" and me replying: "No, silly goose! It's 7:30 in the morning. You don't need candy at 7:30 in the morning! Go put those back, please" and she laughs while repeating "No, silly goose..." and puts the candy bar away, but quickly bounces back with a big smile, a sucker or a bag of chips pleading: "These??" ...Am I going to miss "I want Barney!" 20 times a day? No, but I will miss how much I love hearing her say "Thank you!" to anyone who gives her something and "Bye, see-ya!" to anyone who will listen as we are leaving. She is sweet and she is scrumptious and she makes everyone around her feel special.

I love the "Master of Obvious" role she has taken on as of late. "That's a flower! That's a mailbox! That's a doggie! That's an apple!" It's not unusual for us to tell her something once and she will remember it and point it out when we see it again. I have no idea if that is normal, and I really don't care because to me, it's amazing. It's all just amazing.

It has been some kind of ride with Frankie Jade and I can't wait to see how the road unfolds when Kid 2 comes to town next month. I'm hoping, as the big sister, that she helps teach the little one how to behave and communicate much in the same way Floyd has helped teach Frankie how to be "nice, nice" and say "I'm sorry."

There's no sense in speculation because, naturally, only time will tell what's in store for our family. I'm quite confident, however, that we will live through many, many more rough patches and long nights, hysterical moments and family jokes, awe-inspiring incidents and parental scares-- but for now I can honestly say, without reservation or hesitation, that I have really and truly loved these days.

Monday, January 26, 2009

Bye, Jangles

Frankie and Grampa Jimmy at this past Thanksgiving

There was no bigger fan of Frankie's blog than Frankie's Grampa Jimmy. He would check every day to see if I made a new entry. If I did--he always had a positive comment for me. If I didn't-- he wanted to know when I was going to write one. We spent a lot of time with Jimmy and Frankie loved and cherished every minute. So did Jimmy. He would drop anything for her...even a Pistons or Red Wings game, and I defy you to find me a bigger sports fanatic than Jimmy. Although he
saw Frankie quite often, he never got enough of her so frequent phone calls and blog check-ins helped fill the gaps on days he was not with us.

Unfortunately, he is no longer with us at all.

We lost Jimmy, very unexpectedly, on January 18th. We were not prepared and we had no idea it was coming. It just came, and now Grampa Jimmy is gone. We were robbed of one of the greatest, kindest, sweetest men this earth will ever know and we all miss him terribly.

It has been said that over 700 people showed up for Jimmy's funeral. Everyone, EVERYONE liked Jimmy. When I showed Frankie his obituary picture and asked "who is that?" Frankie exclaimed "Gampa!" It is very important to me that Frankie remembers her Grampa's happy face, how special he was, and how lucky we were to have him in our lives.

I said a few words at his funeral and I hope that when Cody publishes this installment of blog entries for Frankie, the words will help preserve her Grampa Jimmy's memory:

When my mom called me on Saturday to let me know that Jimmy was in ICU, I instantly started preparing for the worst. My initial thoughts went to my mom. My mom and Jimmy had the best marriage ever. What was SHE going to do if he didn't make it? They did everything together from running our family business to Saturdays at Trader Joes. My mom...I was so worried about my mom. It didn't, however, take long for me to abandon my mother's prospective situation because I suddenly realized I had something else to concern myself with: ME. It was, after all, Jimmy who always said: "It's Robyn's world--the rest of us just live in it."

If something happened to Jimmy, what would happen to ME?

This man was not like a father to me, he WAS a father to me. What in the world was I supposed to do without Jimmy?

I have spent almost every day for the past 10 years with Jimmy. We worked together, we had lunch together-- we even liked each other enough to do social things together not because we had to, but because we WANTED to. He loved hanging out at my house playing with Frankie, watching sports with Cody, or giving Floyd doggie treats he did not need that he thought I didn't know about.

We spent a lot of time with my mom and Jimmy because they were fun. Jimmy made everything fun. Holidays, road trips, fundraisers--even my mom was more fun (not that you're not fun, Mom, but well, you're not "Jimmy fun.") Yes, we bickered off and on, but we never once had a fight outside of our OSU/UofM rivaly which was just stupid because... well, I'm not going to slam Jimmy's team because he's not here to defend them but I'll just say 42-7 and be done with it.

I wish I could say that Jimmy made me a better person, but he didn't. He loved me, embraced me and laughed at me for EXACTLY who I am, and to me--that is even better. I recently started seeing him do the same for my daughter, Frankie. He and my mom babysat for Frankie quite a bit and I always loved coming home to hear his commentary from his evening with my girl.

I realized the last time they babysat that Jimmy was starting to talk about Frankie the same way he would talk about me, with love in his heart and pride in his eyes. He was also very excited about Kid 2 coming in June and I'm so SO sad that she is is going to miss out on knowing how warm and amazing her grandpa was...but at least she'll never have to know just how hard it is to lose him.

Bye, Jimmy Angles. We miss you terribly.

Monday, January 12, 2009

Better Late Than Never!

I love Mommy's shoe and purse tree. Is this present for me?

Frankie's ornament on Andy and Angela's tree. So cute...

Frankie's first tree: Andy and Angela Stevers' House

Back off, Daddy. I can do it.

What in the world are these supposed to be?

Theresa and Jeff Mazur's party: When is Santa going to call my name?

"Ho Ho Ho! Hello, Frankie! Santa has been informed
that you have a new address this year!"
*Santa was being played by Grampa Jimmy--Frankie had no idea

Did I make this? It's good!

I love this organic tea set that Uncle Fun got me.
He is SO green!!


More clothes? Another jacket? This must be from Mommy...

More cool toys...I will rule at basketball.

That was fun. I got a lot of good stuff. Is there anything else?

Frankie had a very eventful holiday season. People were in and out of the house most nights just visiting, playing games, having dinner or hanging out. It's my favorite time of the year and I'd venture to say that Frankie had as much fun as I did.

My girlfriend Theresa throws a great XMAS party during the holiday season. This was the first year that we got to bring a kid (probably because it's the first year we had one). There has never been a year that she didn't have a Santa at her party. This year, however, she had some trouble finding one. Thankfully, Grandpa Jimmy not only has a Santa costume, but he comes equipped with his very own elf and many years of "HO HO HO" experience. He was brilliant (especially for a Jewish guy) and Frankie had no idea it was her Grandpa. I actually forgot myself for awhile.

As a kid growing up, there was nothing better than lighting the candles and getting a present (or two) every night after dinner on Hanukkah. Several days before the holiday started my mom would stack all the colorfully wrapped Hanukkah presents under the table in our living room. I loved seeing all those presents-- and I do love presents. My brother and I would sniff around to see which ones were ours and sometimes I would, very carefully, pull the tape from one or two if I was very curious. Come on--I had to know if I was getting my Guess jeans or my ESPRIT sweatshirt! (I don't do that anymore).

For the past few years, Cody, Floyd and I have been opening all of our presents on XMAS morning. We get up very early, make coffee and go to town. This year, even with the addition of Ms. Asian persuasion, was no different. Yes, we are still Jews and yes, we still light the Hanukkah candles and say the prayers, but I have learned something very valuable in my many years of being Jewish: Hanukkah is great...except for one or two of the eight nights.

There are inevitably one or two nights of Hanukkah that honestly kind of suck. They usually fall on nights five and six and we Jews commonly refer to those nights as "Sock Night." You may not actually get socks, but whatever it is that you get, it's always kind of lame. Let's face it--eight nights of awesome presents can get pretty expensive; "Sock Nights" have been built in to save parents from financial ruin. If, however, you open all of your presents on one day, then the totally awesome presents are balanced out by the unpreventable crappy presents and instead of being disappointed on the one or two unavoidable Hanukkah "Sock Nights"-- we instead have one morning full of fun and one bag full of wrapping paper.

That is what we did this year. I can't say that we'll do that forever, especially as Frankie and "Kid 2" get older, but for now--for us-- it's the way to go and we love it.

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Mommy-isms (Just a few)

I'll have to have my secretary get back to you.

I love my Uncle Fun!

These chairs really should be in the kitchen...

The "Fray J Squat" dance move

Hey, where did my balloon go? I've been robbed!

In the last few days, I have bounced some child rearing questions off some of my girlfriends, and after brief discussions with all of them, here is what I have come up with:

Mommy-ism #1:
Unless your instinct says it's a real problem, we need not stress about progress--and we definitely shouldn't compare our kids to other kids. Easier said than done? Probably, but look many adults do you see out there who are still crawling, eating their boogers or throwing food? (Fraternity boys are exempt as an answer--and it's a rhetorical question anyway).

Mommy-ism #2:
I told my friend Liz that I was a little worried that Frankie wasn't doing everything that she should be doing as listed in the What To Expect: The Toddler Years book. We spoke at length and concluded that although Frankie (at 20 mos) can not presently throw a ball underhand, she can, on the other hand, recite the entire "ABC" song so that still makes her brilliant and I'm not going to read that book anymore.

Mommy-ism #3:
Abbey and I have decided that if your child is crying incessently for some unknown reason (and you have confirmed that she is safe, changed, fed, not sick or harming herself) it's OK to turn off the monitor for a bit. I won't tell anyone and I promise that not only will she not hold it against you years from now, but she won't remember in the morning.

Mommy-ism #4:
We are doing fine as parents. We aren't perfect and we make mistakes-- but on balance, we are doing fine. My friend Patti and I have decided that many parents WAY dumber than us have managed to raise kids who can color in the lines and eat with a fork and spoon, so I'm pretty confident that we will get there as well.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Riddle me this...

Knock Knock.
Who's there?
I'm pregnant.

It was October 23rd and were having a nice, family dinner at home. I thought it was the perfect time to attempt another discussion about KT (Kid 2). Cody was vehemently opposed the first few times I brought up the subject of a second child because he was very content with just Frankie. He would say things like: "Why do you want a second when Frankie is so awesome? There is no way we will get this lucky again."

This last time I brought it up, however, he permitted me to plead my case.
I was good.
This is what I came up with:

1. I was not put on this earth to entertain Frankie. She needs a sibling.
His response: "What else you got?"

2. I can't imagine not having my brother to turn to when I need to complain about my parents. (Sorry, Mom and Dad. You know we love you, but sometimes we need to vent). Let's face it, no one-- and I mean NO ONE-- knows your parents like a sibling. There is going to come a day, inevitably, when Frankie is going to need a sibling who will really understand when she is seething mad at her Daddy, or when she has just had it with his idiosyncrasies. (She won't complain about Mommy though, Mommy is flawless).
His response to that one: "Umm...anything else?"

3. (This is where I got him). We're not that young now and I don't think it's fair that Frankie is going to have to deal with us all by herself when we're old bags of $hit.

It was a lock. I had him.
Now we just had to figure out what our next move was.

Did we want to adopt from China again? YES
Do we have 3-4 years to wait for a kid? NO.
Do we want to get on that roller coaster again? Not particularly.

How about adopting domestically or fostering to adopt? Hmm...both definite options... but then Cody blindsided me with a very interesting proposition:

"If we're going to do the infant thing this time around, why don't we just have one?"
I honestly hadn't though of that. At least not for awhile, but it was an option. A viable option. I knew I could probably do it and that everything down south was in working order, I just hadn't really considered it since Frankie. I honestly assumed we'd adopt again because our experience thus far has been so great, but what the hell? Why not? I'll try almost anything once. I was in. Let's give it a whirl.

We had no idea I was already preggo. That actually made the "trying" part kind of easy. I figure that because our China wait was so much longer than we had anticipated, this time we didn't have to wait at all. Oh, is that not how it works? Well, whatever--it made sense at the time.

Interestingly enough, things seem to have come full circle for the Coden family. Our original plan (some years ago) was to "have one and then adopt one, " and we tried--albeit for only three months-- but we did try. I'm not the most patient of people so when we decided it was time to start our family, I went see a fertility doctor. (Why not speed up the process?) We went to the doctor, I sort of lied and told him that we'd been "trying" for a year-- (OK, so it had only been three months, what's the difference?) he put me on some fertility drugs, I tried them for a few months, I got nothing.

During that time, I kept whining and talking about a baby girl in China and Cody eventually acquiesced saying we could start adoption proceedings. That was that. I was on a mission. In retrospect, it's a good thing we adopted first because the wait now is so long we probably never would have made it, or even tried. Frankie, you could have had a completely different life! Too're with us now, kid-- and if all goes well, you're going to have a little baby brother or sister to terrorize at the end of June.

Oh, and if you could wipe your dirty, sticky hands on that kid instead of me, I'd really be great with that.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

The Return of Frankie...

Whoa...who said Puppa Steve could wear that stuff in our house?

Did someone say "tongue?" Here's mine!

I'll do a few photos with the hat and then it's coming right off!!

Um...I think the tights are supposed to go
OVER the spanky part of the skirt.
Oh well, I guess that's what happens when mommy lays the clothes
out and daddy dresses me. Go daddy!

"Hi, Floyd!! Hi, Floyd!! Hi, Floyd!!"

My first time ever seeing snow. I'm way into it.

It has come to my attention that Mommy hasn't sat down and written about me in quite awhile. I think it's been almost a month. That is unacceptable. Correct me if I'm wrong, but isn't she supposed to be using this blog as a vehicle to document my assimilation, growth and general awesomeness so I can, in turn, read all about myself one day? Looks to me like she dropped the ball. Whatever. Who needs her? I'll do it myself.

I'd like to open with a few comments about the OSU-UofM game of 2008. The Wolverines got crushed. It wasn't pretty. They got sent home in a bus that that reeked of 42-7. I would like to go to OSU. I think I can be a cheerleader. I look good in the outfit. It does not make me very happy that the stock market is in the toilet because every time Daddy opens up an envelope with a statement in it, he pronounces something negative about where my college money has gone. That is very bad. Out-of-state tuition is not cheap. Things better start looking up soon.

Right after "The Big Game" came Thanksgiving. It was at our house. We had 27 people over. It was awesimo. Mommy spent three nights getting the house ready. Daddy did a lot of schlepping--he had to bring in all the tables, chairs and "China." (That's funny to me..."China") Mommy went all Martha Stewart on the house so when she was done it looked like pilgrams exploded and pumpkins and gourds popped out. I saw her in our great room quite a bit fussing over everything. I think she is a little cuckoo about things being perfect.

Mommy and Daddy were pretty good about keeping the doors to the great room closed but on the Wednesday morning before Thanksgiving they forgot. I went in there and pulled on one of the tablecloths. THEY FREAKED. It was so funny. Daddy took me out of there and I went kicking and screaming. I wanted to play with the tablecloth and the China. (China...hee hee). I even threw a little tantrum. Nothing like some tantrum action at 7:30 in the morning. Daddy offered me one of my cell phones that they pretend is real and told me to file a complaint. So you know what? I did. I took that fake phone and I called a fake person and I walked all over the kitchen complaining about how much my Mommy and Daddy suck because they wouldn't let me play with the tablecloths and China. They didn't know what I was saying because I coded everything in gibberish, but I said some pretty bad things about them. They tried to get me to drink my bottle after that and I didn't do it. I may only be 19 months old but I know how to stand up for convictions.

Thanksgiving turned out to be a really fun night (once I freed myself from the hat Mommy made me wear). I had a blast with everyone and got lots of attention. Daddy made a nice toast to Mommy and included me because he thinks I'm great. We all partied and played and pretty much ate like we were going to "The Chair" the next day. I got to go to bed at 9:00. I also got to skip brushing my teeth. Rock star living.

I'm at a really fun age right now. I never shut up though and no one knows what I'm saying most of the time. I'm on the phone a lot and for now my conversations go pretty much like this: "Gibberish, gibberish, gibberish..." Pause for response from fake person and then I almost always conclude by saying "Bye" right before I flip the phone shut. I'm corgial like that. I love talking on the phone. I have unlimited minutes. What's your number? I'll call you.

I don't only speak gibberish. I say a lot of real words too. Following are the words I probably use the most: Hot Dog, Woah, Doggie, Up, Down, Phone, Keys, More, ByeSeeYa (all one word), Hi, Open, Close, Off, Yes, No, Shoes, Socks, Bottle, Banana, Apple (which I do with a French accent) and Let's go!!! (It's really cute when I do that one, people love it--it's a real crowd pleaser). My latest favorites are "Hi, Floyd!" and "Please" which comes out more like "peas" but no one can resist me when I say it and I get what I want about 85% of the time. Not too bad.

I know where my bellybutton, eyes, nose, hair, head, feet and ears are. I can say them out loud too (except bellybutton--that one is kind of hard to say). Nana taught me where my tongue is and I love when people ask me about it because it gives me an excuse to stick my tongue out. Sometimes when I'm doing something I shouldn't, Mommy will tell me to "Stop it" and instead of doing so, I just repeat "Stop it." I'm so mature, don't you think?

I can take a napkin and wipe my own face and when I'm done eating I smack my hands and say "All done!" How great is that? When I pet Floyd, sometimes I say "Nice...nice..." to prove that I'm petting him nicely. I'm VERY into Floyd right now. I ask for him when I wake up and as soon as we pull onto our street. One time we were at the grocery store and we walked by some toilet paper with a picture of a Golden Retriever on it. When I saw the doggie, I exclaimed "Floyd!" Mommy and Daddy were dying. Mommy started to tear up a little bit. She's weird like that sometimes.

I know almost all the words to "Twinkle Twinkle Little Star" and I'll join in anytime you feel like singing it. I can also do some of the "ABC song" but I'm a little lost as to the meaning of that one. I like the tune though and I've noticed Mommy thinks it keeps me from squirming when she's changing my dipe so I humor her...sometimes.

I guess that's enough about me. At least for now.