Saturday, July 30, 2011

We Have Moved

My very kind brother-in-law, Zach, created a new blog page for our family. It is easier for me to do posts and looks 100% better! Please change your bookmark or your blog roll to to view "Days with the Jensens" so you can still keep up with our family!

Friday, July 22, 2011

The Highs and Lows

It's been a good week around here, even though we have missed our big girl. She comes home tomorrow so we are happy to have our family complete again soon. The allergist called today and Ella-Ann's shots start on Monday...dun, dun, dun. Let the games begin, I say! I am so ready to get her on these shots and feeling better...feeling good for a change!

I took Pierson to physical therapy on Thursday and the therapist was happy with how much progress Pierson has made in a week. She can now turn her head left to right a full 115 degrees both ways, which she could not do last week. The therapist said she could tell we have been working her hard at home over the last week. It has helped that we haven't had much to do so I have had a lot of time to focus on Pierson. Rane has been very sweet with her and patient with me during all the stretches and exercises I have to do with her. He is such a sweet and good big brother to Pierson. The low of the visit was when I told the therapist that I have noticed Pierson isn't progressing with certain physical things as she should be for her age. She doesn't reach for toys, she doesn't hold them for very long and you have to open her hand and put one in it, she has no muscle tone in her arms so she cannot hold herself up while on her belly, nor can she keep her arms from flailing when she is on her belly or anytime for that matter, she doesn't open her hands much and when I put a "heavier" rattle in her hand she cannot lift her arm to bring it to her mouth. I explained to the therapist about the 2-vessel cord and that this isn't something new for Pierson, she has always been kinda lazy. She doesn't show much interest in toys and is perfectly content to sit and watch her siblings and the world go by. She does babble and makes eye contact with you at all times so that is good news. I asked the therapist if she thought it could be mental and not just physical and she said at this point it is hard to tell but she probably thought it was poor muscle tone and we just need to strengthen her. I was told to bring up my concerns with her pediatrician at her 9-month check up, so obviously it isn't that urgent. The therapist said that she could just be a very relaxed, laid back child and I do think she is just that. I just wish I would've noticed some of the red flags earlier on, like her not opening her hands (we used to have to wash her hands every day because they stunk so bad from never opening), the fact that she doesn't transfer a toy from one hand to the other, doesn't bring "heavy" objects to her mouth and still lacks control over her arms. She also keeps her legs stiff all the time so we are going to work on bending her knees, going from squatting to standing and sitting with her feet touching one another. I left the therapy session with a heavy heart as a mother but I know we are on the right track to getting Pierson stronger! I was told that we are now in therapy for 6 months, until January, 2012, instead of 6 weeks, which we were initially told. We are working a lot with her at home by doing lots of new and different exercises frequently and pushing her to do things on her own, like touch toys and hold them with both hands. I still have to do a few neck stretches as well but not as many, whew! I do have to say Pierson is doing a lot better than she was last week, like sitting and raising her head instead of always having her chin in her neck. I know we will get there. The therapist keeps reminding me that this is a marathon not a sprint!

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

For the Love of Trains

Rane loves trains; or for that matter, he loves any type of car, bus, tractor, truck, etc. Since Ella-Ann is in Kentucky having a blast with my parents and getting to do some fun things with her grandparents I wanted to do something just for Rane while I had him and Pierson by myself. I decided that we would head north to Duluth this morning to visit the Southeastern Railway Museum. So I really don't know what I was thinking. It was 95 degrees here today. Trains are outside. The sun was blazing. There was no breeze. Train cars have no a/c and are boiling hot. I pushed a stroller with Pierson in it but quickly realized that strollers don't board trains so I had to carry her in the boiling, hot, sweltering said train cars. At least one person had a ton of fun...Rane, and that was enough for me to endure all the painful heat!

There wasn't many people there, duh, so we had full run of the place for the most part. This was the absolute perfect place to take an energetic, crazy, running 2-year-old boy because he could pull on things, run up and down the train cars and around them, be as loud as he wanted and do whatever he wanted! He had so much fun and I had so much fun watching him in his element. It was certainly a boy thing to do and I loved doing it with him. I would have enjoyed it more had it not been so hot and I could've stopped and read about all the trains and memorabilia. We went inside an air conditioned room, just for the a/c itself, and I got to see china on display from the trains. They had little butter pat plates from all the railroads! I couldn't even imagine how luxurious that was back in the day...butter pat plates...fine china...on a train! Some trains were kept in mint condition and that was neat to see. We viewed state rooms with full size beds, bathrooms, kitchen cars with a 12-burner coal stove, dining cars, lounging rooms and state rooms. The highlight of the morning for Rane was riding on a train. He didn't move a muscle and was so excited! The very loud whistle about caused him and Pierson to jump out of their skin a few times but other than that he was in heaven!

We headed home around lunch and I was pooped for the day. The heat and carrying around poor little lethargic Pierson in the hotness was very tiring! It was worth it, though, and I know he wants to go back because he kept saying tonight that he and Daddy were going to go tomorrow!

Rane was ready to rock with the trains! I took this picture while standing in line for our tickets. He couldn't even keep his wiggly body still beside me. He HAD to run over to the train and touch it!

This was the first train car we were on and look how hot the kids already are!

Checking out the big stove in the kitchen car.

On our way to the gift shop to buy some trains! This was the coolest part of the day, literally. The only place where fans were going was in the gigantic warehouse where some of the nice trains were on display.

In one of the dining cars. I bought Rane a whistle and he couldn't put it down long enough for a picture. Poor Pierson, she was so ready to leave!

He's got a ticket to ride! He held onto that red ticket the entire way home too!

Checking out one last train before we headed home.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Just Two

This past weekend my parents came down for a visit. We had a great time with them and I completely forgot to take any pictures while they were here. They took Ella-Ann back with them for the week and I know she is having a ball because my Mom has already taken her to Chuck E. Cheese yesterday with another little girl, Briley, and her grandmother, Vicki. Rane, however, really misses his big sister. He keeps asking me where she is and, unfortunately, I have lied to him and told him she is at a friend's house for the week. He would be devastated if he found out that she was at Mimi and Grandpa's house. He was already crushed to see them leave with her on Sunday so I just told him they were taking her to stay with a friend. It worked out much better that way! On Sunday he was playing next to me and turned to me and said, "I want Ella-Ann." He has gotten used to her being around and playing with him all summer long. Also at dinner that evening he was saying the blessing and he asked God to "bring Ella-Ann home." Bless his little heart! It was so sweet.

I am going to take him to the Southeastern Railway Museum tomorrow in Duluth, which is about 18 miles away from where we live. He will love to see all the trains and I hope we will get to ride on one. He is such an easy kid and plays so well by himself that having just him and Pierson is a breeze. My house is quiet and peaceful! Without Ella-Ann there is no one to argue with but there is also no one for him to run around the house with so I think he is enjoying playing with his toys with no interruptions but he misses his playmate! While Ella-Ann is gone I open up her bedroom door and let Rane go to town with her toys! He destroys everything in her room when she is there to witness it but if he is by himself he plays very carefully. He gets lost in his imaginary world and will play for a while in her room.

We all look forward to when Ella-Ann gets home, even though we are enjoying the quietness!

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

PT for P

I took Pierson to see a physical therapist yesterday afternoon....with Rane, at 1:00, during both their nap times. It was quite fun. Ella-Ann is at camp this week at her school all day (8:30 a.m. until 6 p.m) so at least I didn't have to drag her there. We were there for an hour and a half and Rane did pretty good. He was hard to handle at times and it was difficult to listen to the therapist explain things to me (like 100 things) but I managed. At one point Rane turned the lights off in the room so we sat in the dark until I could find the switch. I was exhausted by the time we got in the car to leave, as was Pierson! On the other had, Rane was screaming on the way home because he wanted to stay!

The therapist evaluated her, measured her head and found her to have a moderate case of torticollis, which is a stiff neck. She said the entire right side of her body is stiff as well. I never noticed (shame on me) that when Pierson turns her head her neck muscles majorly protrude and are super tight. The therapist had to point it out to me. She has a flat head on the right side, which I have mentioned before, but that doesn't have anything to do with the torticollis. She has a difficult time turning her head to the left and keeping it there so it just automatically falls to look right. Pierson is also learning her midline to be a little to the right, since that is the way her head naturally falls, instead of center. There is about a 15-degree difference between how far she can look to the right and left and bend her ear to her shoulder. If we were to let this go she could have physical developmental problems so I have to take her to therapy once a week and do many exercises with her three times a day. Since Pierson is not fond of her stomach, which is probably why she doesn't roll much, I have to start getting her used to laying on it by having tummy time at least 5 times a day. This also helps to stretch out the front of her neck, which is also tight. Keep in mind Pierson is only awake for a maximum of 1.5 hours in between naps and in that time I have to feed her a bottle, feed her solids, run errands and now do a bunch of exercises! I have a lot on my plate but I can do it! The good thing is I have Ella-Ann, who adores Pierson, wanting to help me as much as possible. I think I can, I think, I can, I think I can!

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Catch Up

This week was busy with the usual happenings, like errands and doctor appointments. I meant to post the below pictures of Pierson with a previous post, like from a week ago, but forgot. This was taken before church one Sunday when she was wearing Ella-Ann's dress...

Pierson discovered her feet a few weeks ago and now she is obsessed with them. Often when I get her up from a nap or in the morning her socks or pajama feet are soaking wet because she's been chewing on them for a while! She loves them and I love her baby feet too!

On the 4th of July, since Spencer and I were pooped from running and all the excitement that went along with the Peachtree Road Race, we just laid low around the house and let the kids stay up and do fireworks and sparklers. Craig and Kasey stopped in Tennessee to buy our fireworks since they are better there and they brought us a bunch of good ones. The kids loved the sparklers and that's about all we did because it rained really hard that afternoon and the big fireworks that Craig bought were way too loud and crazy with the tall trees surrounding our house so we only did one and that scared Rane enough to never want to be around another firework!

We also got the firepit going and made smores....

I mean, this kid loves smores!

On Saturday Rane was invited to a birthday party for his friend, Henry (my friend Megan's little boy). The theme was superhero so I bought Rane a Superman costume and he loved it! The invitation said siblings were welcome and princesses were considered superheros as well so when I told Ella-Ann this she immediately said, "Cinderella is a superhero! I am wearing that costume!" She was dressed for the party, that started at 10 a.m., at 7:30 yesterday morning! Her friend, Anna-Kate, was also dressed as Cinderella so those two girls had a ball together. I was really excited for Rane to be invited to a party. We do a lot for Ella-Ann because her friends are the children of my friends and their middle children are not too close in age to Rane so, besides PMO, he doesn't get out much! ha! He had so much fun at the party and indulged in the beautiful cupcakes Megan made before the party even started. I found him with his hands covered in white icing! I'm sure he also made a few rounds around Megan's house exploring everything and touching things he's probably not supposed to! When we got in the car to go home the first thing Rane said was, "I had SO MUCH FUN, MOMMY! What a great day!" It was so sweet that he had so much fun at a birthday party that HE was invited to!

The Cinderella's, Anna-Kate and Ella-Ann!

As soon as we arrived the kids got to decorate a lightening bolt cookie and make a mask.

I couldn't exactly yell across the table at Rane while we were all singing "Happy Birthday" to Henry so he stayed in the middle of Dave and Megan...right by the cupcakes, of course! I'm sure they will appreciate Rane being in their family photos!

Friday, July 08, 2011

Oh The Allergies

The girls, they are becoming quite a handful with all of their allergy and skin issues. I took Pierson in for her 6-month check up on Wednesday. She weighs 14 pounds, 9 oz and is in the 20th percentile. She is 27 inches in length and in the 80th percentile. She is on the same track as the other two kids. She has quite a flat spot on the right side of her head so we have to see a physical therapist soon to avoid her having to wear a helmet. I have to start doing neck stretches with her at home and will learn more to do for her from the PT. Her eczema has always been bad and has always covered her whole body so I was given a prescription for her and was told to bathe her more so I can put it on damp every day. The pediatrician told me I also needed to start feeding her more solids, i.e., breakfast, lunch and dinner. This is not a fun task for me because she doesn't have too much interest in eating. She loves fruits but I have a hard time feeding her vegetables so that takes forever. So that's Pierson's update.

On to Ella-Ann. Spencer and I noticed that her allergies seem to have gotten much worse so I made an appointment with the allergist, who we saw yesterday. They needed to perform another skin test on her (she had one when she was 2 years old), which I wanted to do so we could get her on allergy shots. She screamed as they pricked her skin and cried during the 15 minutes of "marinating" time. Her back immediately started getting red and the whelps started developing as soon as the serum hit her back. She cried and cried because she wanted to scratch so badly. It was torture for her and torture for me to watch her. The nurse came back in when the time was up and measured her whelps. Anything over 5 mm was considered to be an allergy....nearly every whelp on her back was over 13 mm. She was allergic to everything. The worst were dogs, cats and nuts (which we knew). Oak trees and grass were also bad. When the doctor came in to check out her test he immediately said, "Oh wow," and said it two more times when examining the whelps. He said he had never seen such a bad reaction, especially to dogs. Needless to say, pets are not in our future. The doctor said, when he sat down to talk to me after the test, "Let me first tell you what she's not allergic to....dust. That's about it." So in a nutshell, I have two new prescriptions to give her and Zyrtec, which she is already taking, two times a day. She will start allergy shots in 2 weeks and those will be three times a week for 3-6 months and then, hopefully, be knocked down to once a month for 4-5 years. The clinic is about 15-20 minutes away from our house, depending on traffic, so this is not going to be an easy in-and-out thing for me, especially since I'll most likely be toting along Rane and Pierson with us. We have to stay in the office 30 minutes after the shot to make sure Ella-Ann doesn't have a reaction. I was also given another prescription for two EpiPens because we need to carry around 2 now at all times. We've always had one with me and one at school but now there needs to be two with me and two at school, just in case.

I also have to start giving Ella-Ann bleach baths two times a week. The doctor said people with eczema have more bacteria on their skin so the bleach bath kills the bacteria. She has to soak for 15 minutes. After that I have to lather her up in her steroid skin cream and Aquaphor while damp, just like I have to do with Pierson. Please keep in mind that Ella-Ann cannot stand baths so a bleach bath is not pleasing to her whatsoever. I told the allergist about Pierson and how her skin is worse at 6 months than Ella-Ann's was at that age and he said she is on the same track as Ella-Ann and should get an allergy test between 9 and 12 months.

When I think about it all I am very overwhelmed with all of it. I know Spencer will be there to help me as much as he can, so that helps me feel better about the tasks at hand! I know that this is the best thing for Ella-Ann and we are on the right road to helping her feel like a brand new person. She has gotten so used to feeling miserable that I don't think she realizes that she is going to feel so much better and will be happier once the shots and all the meds get going in her system. I honestly think that a lot of Ella-Ann's whining and drama issues have to do with how bad she feels. I would be cranky too with all that she is allergic to! So, we will just take it day-by-day and I know God will help us get it all done...He has to provide all the time it is going to take for the girls, that's for sure!