Kelsey’s Birthday

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Kelsey 1 year (14)Time for a major celebration!! It’s Kelsey’s first birthday! A whole year is behind us and over the past few days I have been thinking a lot about all that has happened over this 12 month period. It was on this day last year that my life would change forever. When I think back to the events of the day, I can’t help but get a little teary-eyed. As I sit typing this, big tears are falling down my cheeks; okay so maybe a little more than teary-eyed. Why? I have no clue. I am fine. Really Mom, I’m fine. Kelsey is incredible and to watch her perseverance is amazing. But as I recall the sequence of events on the day of her birth, I can’t help but be a little sad when I remember telling friends and family about Kelsey and reliving their reactions.

As I sat in my hospital bed on the phone with my friend, I told her the news of Kelsey’s dwarfism. She reacted just like everyone else by saying, “What!? Really?” Then, my nurse walked into my room and I handed the phone to JJ so he could talk to her while I spoke with the nurse. “She hung up,” he said. I wondered why. When I called her back, she told me that she hung up because she was crying and she couldn’t talk. We laughed then, but now I cry. The only thing I can figure about my tears refers back to the Welcome to Holland poem. Please read it if you haven’t already, what I’m about to say may sound harsh if you aren’t familiar with the poem. Maybe my tears are a way of mourning the loss of the child who I was expecting to meet on June 12… that would never come to be. The baby I have is amazing, but still, the the baby I thought I was going to have was a significant loss and although I am overjoyed that we are all in good health on Kelsey’s 1st birthday, I can’t help but to also describe this day as a little bittersweet as well. Can anyone out there relate to this feeling?

Kelsey is doing very well. Sure, she is a little slow to reach milestones and still weaker than most babies her age. Upon her diagnosis I learned that is to be expected, so for me she is right on target with where she should be and I am happy with that. As a friend once told me, all that means is that I’ll get to hold her a little longer. But the scary part is the uncertainty. I know Kelsey will naturally adapt to her environment and we will make all of the modifications that are necessary. I know that we can help her to overcome the physical obstacles and together we can learn how to make things physically easier for her. But, how will the ‘being different’ affect her? I know its inevitable that she will have moments of insecurity, I know she will face non physical challenges that will be even more difficult to over come than the physical ones. Will people accept her and her differences? This is my biggest worry and fear although I try to put it aside for now. I know that people will stare. But I also know that people will stare because they are fascinated by her. I am fascinated. Just because I am more familiar with dwarfism than most people does not mean that I don’t find the condition fascinating. Will she understand this? How will she react, and most importantly how will I react? I already find myself imagining situations and practicing my response. I know it will be hard but I must remember to show her the way.  This will be difficult for me. Any parent out there reading this can relate, I’m sure. My instinct will most certainly not be the calm, gentle, understanding reaction that I would hope to see from her. I will continue to practice. I can only take things day by day and address these challenges as they’re upon us. My mom always said to me that the anticipation is often the best part. However in this case, its the worst. My imagination takes me places that I don’t want to go. Not yet anyway. She is so special. She is beautiful. I hope to do everything in my power so that she can live a very happy life filled with joy and great memories.

After I process all of these thoughts I must remind myself, she is simply short. There is nothing that can hold her back. I never imagined that I would have to raise a child with unordinary challenges, but this is where I find myself now. I know I have been given this task for a reason, so I will continue to stay positive and make the best life possible for my sweet Kelsey baby. Today, I will take a few moments to be sad as I remember learning of her diagnosis 1 year ago… And then I will put the tears aside and celebrate this wonderful day that God blessed me, JJ, Annie and the rest of our family with the most beautiful gift I could have ever imagined. Today, we will celebrate her big beautiful brown eyes with the longest lashes, her tiny sweet face and that silly tongue that is always sticking out, her head full of long black ‘crazy hair’ as Annie calls it, and of course… the softest sweetest fat rolls on every part of her 17 lb. body!  I could not be more proud to be Kelsey’s mother.  Happy 1st Birthday to my sweet Kelsey Q.

Kelsey 1 year (10)

Little People Regional Conference

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Before last June, I’d never seen a little person… EVER. Would you believe me if I told you that last week, the Little People of America had a Regional Convention right here in our home town?? Do you think that’s a coincidence? I don’t.  As I’ve said before, I don’t believe in coincidences. Read HERE to learn why.

JJ and I returned from vacation on a Friday morning at 2:30 am. We were exhausted when we went to the LPA mixer on Friday night. We were so glad to go knowing that it was 15 minutes from our house and we’d see a lot of our new LP friends  from our local support group, Little Cajuns, so despite being tired we didn’t pass up the opportunity to visit with everyone. The mixer was inside of a bar in the hotel lobby. JJ and I, along with a few others including our LP friend Jenny, walked into the bar. The bartender began yelling and pointing at Jenny, “She can’t be in here, she can’t be in here!!”  The bartender thought that Jenny was a child. Making the best of it, Jenny, who stands as tall as a 7 or 8 year old girl, laughed and said, “Yes, I can. I’m 27. It’s okay…happens all the time.” I felt sorry for the bartender, it was an honest mistake. However, you would think she would have been prepared considering that the reserved section for us had tables which were only 2 feet off the ground.

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JJ and I spent a long time visiting with one couple who’s son is 18 years old. He drives, he lives independently, he attends college, he works. He is nothing short of an amazing inspiration. And so are his parents. I had met them previously at my first Little Cajuns meeting. His mother told us the story of how her son was a perfectly healthy and large baby. Pediatricians told her that he would be over 6 feet tall. It wasn’t until around the age of 3 when she noticed that his wrists seemed double jointed and after several tests, he was diagnosed with a very rare form of dwarfism. JJ sat quietly and listened for hours. He absorbed every word. In my mind, I believe he was absorbing every word and letting it soak in. In reality, he probably had questions he wanted to ask or things he wanted to say, but I was asking so many questions that he couldn’t get a word in edgewise!

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I had a babysitter lined up to watch the girls at home, but I felt like I couldn’t go to the little people conference without my little person. So, the next day we went back with Kelsey. Her souvenir t-shirt that I brought back from vacation said “I’m little and loving it,” so of course she had to wear it to the conference.   Mandie, our wonderful babysitter, came with us. Kelsey got to visit with everyone and Annie had a blast running around with the other kids. I tried to warn Annie beforehand to let her know that she would be seeing some little people. She never noticed the kids, but she would point and yell, “Look Mom!! A little person!!!” every time she’d see an adult. It was cute and embarrassing all in one.

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We came home for a nap and then went back to the conference around 7:30 that evening for the dance. Kelsey and I were visiting and making new friends. Annie, my dancing machine, stayed on the dance floor all night. She would yell and signal from the dance floor for JJ to go dance with her and reluctantly, he would go. It was precious. She danced with the other kids too. She even learned the Cupid Shuffle. Around 10 pm, she was so tired that she head butted one of the tables and spilled a coke all over her head and down her dress. It was time for our exit.

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The conference was very nice and well attended. We had over 90 people there from Texas and Louisiana, which was a good turn out I’m told. Remember, dwarfism is not very common. I thought that everything was well organized, lots of fun, and everyone was extremely friendly and helpful. We had a really nice time and are looking forward to bringing some of our family members to the next conference in Austin, TX.

Vacation

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Grand Cayman (39)JJ and I just went on a most fabulous vacation to the beautiful island of Grand Cayman. It was great, peaceful, relaxing, sunny, serene, and gorgeous just to give you an idea. This was an exclusive work trip that my hubby qualified for and he and I had both been looking forward to it for several months. For several weeks before we left, I had been running like crazy to prepare for the trip by lining up babysitters (my MIL and Mom), lining up help for the babysitters, grocery shopping, labeling  medication, laying out clothing and essentials for the girls, along with shopping and packing for myself and JJ to make sure we were bringing everything we needed.

The weeks prior to the trip, you may remember that Annie & Kelsey had been feeling a little under the weather. The dog was sick too.  Read the previous post for a refresher. I’m guessing it won’t surprise you to know that the week of the trip, Kelsey got sick with Hand, Foot, & Mouth disease. If you have kids under the age of 3, you’ve probably heard of this. If not, look it up… its very common and not as scary as it sounds. She didn’t have a terrible case of it, but it is highly contagious and there is nothing you can do for it besides let it run its course. So that’s what I did. At the end of the week, just as she was recovering from Hand, Foot, and Mouth, she started with a terrible cough. I gave it a day or so and it didn’t get any better. I began breathing treatments twice a day, then up to four times a day; the cough still did not improve. Great! Now its Friday and we are planning to leave on Sunday morning. I decided to give it one more day, so I watched her closely all day Saturday. She was in a great mood that day, until that evening. Her cough was still present and it was getting worse. She became very fussy, she coughed alot, she refused to eat and fell asleep early. At this time I just knew something was not right and that I probably wouldn’t be able to go on the trip. I was so sad.

I had not mentioned to JJ that I thought she was sick, and of course he didn’t notice. So when I finally told him in a panic, he suggested calling the pediatrician. JJ also told me that he thought our living room rug could be what is causing her to always be so congested. He said he laid on it for 10 minutes earlier that day and he and an allergic reaction all over his skin. As you probably know, Kelsey spends alot of time on the floor. Although I usually keep the rug covered with a blanket or sheet for Kelsey, I didn’t want to take any chances. We rolled that rug up and tossed it out faster than you can imagine. I was glad to get rid of that old dirty rug.

I called our doctors office and it just so happened that Kelsey’s pediatrician was on call.  He told us that he was working at the ER, gave me his personal cell number and told me to text him when we got there. We woke Kelsey up, drove to the ER, sent a text to our doctor who found us immediately and took us straight to a patient room. He checked her out and said she was fine, this was just an upper respiratory thing going on and he said we would be fine to go on our trip. Needless to say, I was relieved and also very impressed with our doctor for accommodating us.

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The next morning, we kissed our girls goodbye and hit the road. I had alot of anxiety and guilt about leaving them and leaving our families with the burden of taking care of them, but I tried really hard to just relax and enjoy myself. It was difficult… until we arrived at the beautiful Ritz Carlton resort and saw the beautiful white sands and crystal clear water. It was amazing!! I called home and was glad to hear that things were going well.  We got dressed and went to the welcome reception and enjoyed the days and activities that followed such as beach time, laying out, snorkeling, paddle boarding, sailing, kayaking, lounging around, dinner parties, drinks at the pool, awards ceremonies, shopping, after parties, and so on. Did I mention beach time & laying out??!! I’m such a beach bum. My skin was in shock since it hasn’t seen the sun in almost two years. Yikes! Can we say sunburn!!? I called home twice a day and was happy to hear that everything was under control. Annie was only concerned with when we would be getting home with her surprises.

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On our trip back, our flight in Houston was cancelled so we had to rent a car and drive home. It was only about 3-4 hours, but we didn’t get home until 2:30 am. Of course, this would be the day that Kelsey decides to wake up at 5:30 am, but that was okay with me. I was missing her and I’m guessing she was missing me too. Our luggage was still in Houston, so Annie was a little disappointed when she woke up only to find us and NO surprises! It didn’t take long before I was back in the swing of things, getting little ones dressed and off to daycare, working, running errands, unpacking, cleaning up, and putting my house back  in order after being gone for a few days.

The canvas below was located in a long hallway in our hotel. It reminded us of Annie. JJ and I would both stare at it every time we would walk past the picture. It looks just like her, how she walks, her toys, etc. It really made us miss her!

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I really enjoyed my vacation, however Dorothy had it right. There really is no place like home, even when you’re constantly running around like a chicken with your head cut off!

Enjoying the Silence

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I am writing in my living room. All dressed up with no where to go… well not until 6pm anyway. Both kids are napping and JJ decided to take a nap too (very rare!), so I decided to take advange of the quiet time. When we plan an outing this only means one thing, that I will have to get ready early. VERY early. So immediately after lunch, I took a shower, washed, dried, and fixed my hair, and applied full make-up. I even tried on my dress, but then decided that would be ridiculous to wear it around now. So I sit in my robe… Hours in advance but I am ready to go!! This is a first.

This quiet time is so nice considering the past two weeks. My extreme chaos began when our dog, Marina – known to most at Tootie, began vomiting. She has a very sensitive stomach and she does this alot, but it was happening more than usual. It was happening almost daily and I began to notice that she wasn’t eating much. She never really does eat much anyway, so I wasn’t sure what was going on. Although she gets sick alot, she never throws up on our rug… until now. Three times, and did I mention its a shag rug!!?!? UGH! ICK! I was furious. This rug is the place where Kelsey spends most of her time. Tummy time is all the time around here, and our living room rug is basically Kelsey’s play room. I always keep the rug covered with a blanket or sheet, but somehow Tootie still managed to make a mess on the rug itself. Needless to say I was not happy. It was late one night when she got sick again that we noticed there was blood. We couldn’t do anything about it then, just give her some love and apologize for getting upset with her earlier in the day :-( Dog Mom of the year here! Epic fail. We would call the vet first thing in the morning.

So, we all hit the sack. Annie fell asleep immediately which is unheard of! She typically gets in and out of bed 100 times and then she loudly sings herself to sleep around 10pm. I found this odd, but it was 8pm and both kids were asleep. It felt great. At about 10pm as I was getting ready to slip into la-la land, a frazzled Annie enters our room and asks to sleep with us. Also unusual. She climbed in with us and went right to sleep again. Odd, she has NEVER slept with us before. JJ and I both took advantage of her snuggles, until about 11:30pm when I had her big toe in my rib cage and she was giving JJ all the snuggles. I wake JJ and he transfers her back to her bed. Again at 1:30 am, she comes in and wants to sleep with us, so I go back to her room and lay with her. All of this is totally off – she typically sleeps all night in her bed without ever waking. I knew something was going on, but thought it was possibly a one time deal. We made it through the night.

The next day, we take Tootie to the vet early in the morning. I spend lots of time on the phone with Dr. Broussard throughout the day trying to figure out whats going on with our family pet. “We think she swallowed something, there is a bulge in her abdomen, or it could be a large kidney stone, or she could have a tumor…” After an x-ray that showed nothing, they decided to do exploratory surgery. Turns out, its a big ole tumor. Our little 8 year old poodle who only weighs 5 lbs had an intestinal tumor the size of a golf ball. Okay, so they go ahead and remove it. The day goes by, its approaching 5 pm and I still haven’t heard anything about how she’s doing so I drive over to their office to find out they are still in surgery – this is about 4 hours later. I finally get to see her, she looks pitiful and she whimpers when she sees me. I have to leave her over night at the animal ER. This whole time, I’m wondering how much this is gonna cost me and what JJ is gonna say. Its a terrible feeling to have to make a decision on the spot about whether or not to remove a tumor so your dog can live without suffering,  or put her down… when it all comes down to money. I felt like we did the right thing when I heard her little whimper. She wanted to live. Okay – so a night in the ER. I go home without her.

That night, Annie had the same routine. She fell hard asleep at 8 pm, then up at 10 pm, 11:30 pm, 1:30 am, 3:30 am. I knew something just was not right. Around 3:30 am, she was so miserable, she just asked if she could get up at watch TV. I was so miserable that I almost agreed, but after one more try she did fall back asleep. When we finally did woke up (exhausted) the next morning, I called the ENT immediately. I knew this must be another pesky ear infection. Or the same one (double) that we’ve been trying to get rid of since January. Thats right, January!! The ENT couldn’t fit us in, so she suggested we visit the pediatrician. If in fact it was an ear infection, we were to call back to schedule tubes. In fact, it was another terrible infection so we scheduled tubes for the following week, on Monday. Thank goodness!

Throughout all of this, I was still dealing with Tootie. I had to pick her up from the animal ER before 8am and get her back over to the Vet for the day. I got all that done, very slowly and carefully as to not hurt our sweet liTootiettle healing pup. She spent the rest of the day being monitored and then was sent home that night. Great, right!? Wrong. She was up all night vomiting again :-( Annie was up at 11:30 pm, 1:30 am, 3:30 am, etc… What was JJ doing this whole time, you ask?? Sleeping like an angel. Grrrrr! I called the Vet in the morning and had to send her back there for the day yet again. She had a bad reaction to the pain patch that they had on her skin, so they removed it and gave her some fluids. She came home that night. All weekend I had to feed her every 3 hours. I had to feed her from a syringe, make sure she drank, bring her outside to the bathroom, love on her. She got alot of special attention. The nights continued as usual with Annie waking every 2 hours.

Monday rolls around and I could not get to the surgery center fast enough. The surgery went well and was over with so quickly. The doc said how terrible her ears were and that she couldn’t believe how badly infected they still were at this time of year. ShAnnie surgerye gave us the special ear drops to place into each ear twice a day. (there are many things easier to do than putting drops in a 3 year old’s ears, FYI). So relieved, we went home for Annie to recover. I just knew she would be feeling much better now. Around noon that day, she was back to her old self. “Yippee, we are in the clear!!” I thought to myself. Wrong again. That night, she coughed and coughed and coughed. Same thing the next night. Her cough got worse and sounded terrible. I called the pediatrician only to find out that there are many cases of walking pneumonia going around now and they would treat her with an antibiotic because that’s what her symptoms sounded like. I mentioned that Kelsey was also getting a cough but that I thought was allergy related and they insisted that she be brought in for a visit. So… the next day, off to the doc we go with Kels. Luckily, he didn’t seem to think it was anything more than a cold on top of allergies for both girls but he decided to treat her with the same antibiotic that Annie was taking just to be certain. Meanwhile, the Vet called to say that Tootie’s tumor was cancer. It could have spread to the lymph nodes and we need to keep a close eye on her for any strange sypmtoms.

Medicine time at our house is like a circus. There are medicine dispensers, cotton balls, saline, nebulizers, vicks, q-tips, nasal suctions, and more all over the place! There is lots of bribery happening as well. It lasts a while and tests my patience, but we get it done. Poor Tootie doesn’t get the royal treatment anymore; yet again she takes a back seat. We are almost finished with ear drops and just a few more days on the antibiotic. Hopefully everyone really will be in the clear at that point! I still have to bring Tootie to get her staples removed. Now, the kids are both awake and its almost medicine time (and once again, JJ is still sleeping like an angel). See… this is why I had to get ready 3 hours early. Maybe next week will be a little less busy.

Here is Kelsey getting a little key lime pie from her favorite Aunt Kathy.Kelsey Eating

One Small Step, One Big Inspiration

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As I’ve mentioned previously, Kelsey is doing her own version of an army crawl. She has been toying with my emotions for weeks and weeks because she’ll only perform this activity for something she realllly wants. Those items being big sister’s toys, my iPhone or Kindle, the remote, a laptop or anything that could possibly be electronic, etc. Ya know, the good stuff. This weekend, she crawled farther than she ever had to reach a new (old) toy that Annie had pulled out of her toy box. By “farther” I mean that she probably moved forward about 3-5 inches. If you saw how much effort she puts into it, you’d see why I’m so excited. On Facebook, I came across an interesting article titled,  “Dwarfs, Little People, and the M-word.” You can read it for yourself here. In the article I came across this quote, “every step, no matter how big or small, is a step.” This is so darn true. I am so proud of her. She is so little, so tiny, so innocent, and she doesn’t even know what a huge inspiration she is to me. She is just amazing and she doesn’t  even know it yet. It’s incredible!

Another thing that is totally incredible and a total inspiration, is my amazing friend and Kelsey’s nanny. You have seen her pic on the Guest Blogger page, although she has yet to write anything for me. I guess she  is too busy, running half marathons and such. As I thought about what to write here, I began to realize how many similarities there are between Kelsey and Kristan. Kelsey has been faced with such a challenge, yet she perseveres and she moves forward, putting one foot in front of the other (you know what I mean) and taking things day by day…learning to do things in her own way. Certainly things are and will be difficult for her, but she is determined. Kristan lives similarly as she  recently (less than 1 year ago) turned over a new leaf and started a new fit & healthy lifestyle. It was around the time Kelsey was born last year that Kristan decided it was time for a change. She began using a trainer at the gym. She followed a strict nutrition plan. She worked out religiously and then some. She, like Kelsey, started learning a new way to live. She has had many difficult days that were so hard physically and emotionally. She has overcome so many tremendous obstacles with such seemingly ease and grace and she has inspired every person around her who has been keeping up with her story.

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This weekend, she accomplished one of her goals, to run a half marathon. When she began her weight loss and life transformation process last year, she tells me about a time when she thought she’d never be able to complete a 1 mile run on the treadmill without stopping. I wish I had said to her, “every step, no matter how big or small, is a step” but she didn’t need to hear that anyway, she showed that treadmill!

When Kelsey was born and I asked Kristan to be the Godmother, she gladly accepted. She even told me not to worry about finding a babysitter when I went back to work, that she felt like there was a reason that things were working out in such a way that she was able to stay home and keep Kelsey for me. And so she did. I hope a little bit of Kristan’s strong will, dedication, courage, commitment, strength, honesty, and power have rubbed off on Kelsey and will continue to do so. She is an incredible friend, wife, and mother. She always says how blessed she is, but I am blessed to know her and have her as a friend.

 

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And now I have one more thing to say… A few months back, we were shopping in the mall with friends when we suggested that Kristan pierce her ears. She had never had them pierced and I had always beggggggged her to let me go with her to get it done. She finally agreed and had her ears pierced. She is going to kill me, but here is a picture of that very memorable day! She yelled at us as we snapped pictures and tried to video the whole thing! I just had to share because Kelsey just got her ears pierced too – this just proving how many similarities there are between these two inspiring people.  I love you my friend. Don’t be mad at me for posting the ear picture. You are beautiful, inside and out. I am proud to know you.

Ava & Kristan

Life Lately

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Well guys, I’ve been slacking lately… I’ll admit. Things have been quite busy during the month of March. Kelsey was sick in early February so I tried to work from home and keep her on house arrest as much as possible. Can we say CABIN FEVER!!? And then March came around and I hit the ground running! My child care situation was still unstable, so I began each week with a call to my friends… “Who wants to watch Kelsey for me this week???” Between meetings, conventions, and my regular marketing and recruiting duties, I was one busy lady and I could not have gotten through it all without the help of my fabulous friends!!! Thank you to Kristan and Candace, I owe you both big time! One other thing I was busy with this month, was celebrating Kristan’s incredible 100 lb. weight loss goal!!! I will write more on her story soon :-)

So, during this month Kelsey has made great improvements! First of all, we began giving her an allergy maintenance medicine once a day which has helped her immensely!! She  seems to have some relief, finally! Don’t worry, I’m knocking on wood as I type this. It seems that the tubes have helped her ears a great deal as well, so overall I find that she has a very happy disposition. I am enjoying her so much. She is trying SO hard to crawl. She is doing her version of an army crawl that I have tried to capture on camera or video a million times with no success. She rolls from side to side, inching her way forward a little more with each roll. She is still spending lots of time on her tummy, so she rolls and rolls anywhere she is trying to go. She is starting to really enjoy her food. She looks at the food we are eating and licks her lips. She says, “Mmmmm” when she is eating her food. Newest meals that I’ve made include chicken & sweet potato, chicken noodle, turkey & rice, and banana & mixed berry. I say Mmmmm too, they are good! She is also trying very hard to sit up. Her strength has improved a great deal, and she is very, very close! We are waiting to hear back from Early Steps for a PT evaluation. We are currently working with an early interventionist (she is a Speech Therapist) who tells us that Kelsey is doing great and is right where she needs to be in her cognitive development. It seems that her physical development may be the only thing that will be delayed, which we were expecting. It was great to hear that she is doing well cognitively. She loves to say Dada, we are still working  (VERY HARD) on Mama!

I am looking so forward to next week. Kelsey begins going to a sitter full time and I won’t have to depend on my friends to help piece together my childcare. Jenn is our babysitter that we used for Annie. Annie absolutely LOVED her and she did so well there. I am hoping the same for Kelsey. It was my initial plan to put Kelsey in daycare. However every time I was faced with that decision, I just couldn’t do it. I always loved and appreciated Jenn so much when Annie went to her, but now that I have Kelsey who has a few more restrictions and requires a little more attention, there is nobody that I would trust more than Jenn to make sure that Kelsey is well taken care of. She is an amazing woman and I know Kelsey will just LOVE her!

We have a big weekend planned for Easter. Annie and I have plans to dye eggs and I can’t wait. She was so excited when I showed her the egg dying kit that I thought she would lose her mind. Of course we did this last year too, but obviously she doesn’t remember. We plan to see our Hebert family Friday, and we will finally get to meet the newest member of the family, Allison Brooke. Aunt Cha Cha is coming to town too and Annie is very excited about this! We will see  my side of the family on Sunday at Honey’s house, and I’m looking very forward to the yumminess she’ll have prepared for us.

Stay tuned for more updates. But until then, take a look at some recent pictures. Happy Easter to all!

Kelsey Hat 2 (2) Kelsey & dad Kelsey Hat

Time for Tubes

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Kelsey is having surgery tomorrow to have tubes placed in her ears. It is a common problem for children with Achondroplasia to have chronic fluid in the ear which if left untreated can lead to hearing loss. We can’t have that! So, hopefully this little operation will provide her with some relief. I wish I had more time to explain it in more detail, but I don’t. Instead, I’m borrowing this post from another POLP (parents of little people) blog. Chelley has a 10-month old daughter with Achondroplasia and is a very informative writer. She goes into great detail and explains this whole process much better than I could have.  Please check it out!

Also, I wanted to share some news from Kelsey’s Early Steps instructor. Mrs. Lynn is a Speech Therapist and early interventionist and she works with us twice a month. She told us that Kelsey is right on par with her cognitive development and she should not have any problems at all with speech development. As long as we can keep her ears clear, we are expecting that everything should be great in that part of her development, YAY! Because of this and due to the fact that Kelsey has become a little more physically capable and started her own version of the army crawl, we are having a consult with a Physical Therapist soon. Kelsey will likely start seeing a PT monthly for the next 2-3 months. Once we get established with this new therapist, we will most likely stop seeing Mrs. Lynn and continue our regular Early Steps visits with the Physical Therapist. I am hoping to have some exciting updates!

Thanks for reading! Updates regarding Kelsey’s surgery will be coming soon.

Pizza in a Bowl

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I said I would post recipes, so here I go! I am all about things that make life easier and I love a home cooked meal. This recipe is a combination of both, so I simply must share! I found it on Pinterest, where else! It is actually Chicken Parmesan, not Pizza in a Bowl…

Easy Chicken Parm Casserole

Ingredients:

2 tbsp olive oil
2 cloves garlic, crushed
hot red pepper flakes, to taste
6 boneless skinless chicken breasts
2 cups marinara sauce
1/4 cup chopped basil
8 oz mozzarella, shredded
4 oz Parmesan, grated
1 (5-oz) package garlic croutons

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350. In a baking dish, pour the olive oil. Add the chopped garlic on top of that and disperse evenly. Sprinkle the hot red pepper flakes. Next, add the chicken breasts in one single layer. My chicken breasts were very thick, so I smashed them down with one hand and cut them across horizontally (you only need two or three if you do it this way). I added a little salt and pepper here to season the chicken. Now, cover the chicken with marinara sauce, then add the chopped basil (I used dried basil, not fresh). Add 4 oz of mozzarella and 2 oz of parmesan and cover that up with the garlic croutons. Once the croutons are evenly distributed, layer the remainder of the mozzarella and parmesan cheese.

Bake for 40 minutes (may take longer depending on the size of your chicken breasts).

Last night, I fed this to Annie and 4 of her friends. Annie was asking for spaghettios instead of this delicious meal until one friend said, “Mmmm, this tastes like pizza!!” Annie then tried it and agreed with her friend. We renamed this recipe Pizza in a Bowl! I hope you like it!

 

Our Hospital Stay

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I couldn’t sleep at night. Kelsey wasn’t resting well but besides that, I was getting annoyed inside. Nobody was helping me to figure out what was wrong with my girl. I knew she was SO sick. Her surgery to have tubes placed in her ears was just a few days away and I kept thinking that the tubes would make everything better, I was wrong. Kelsey had a terribly case of RSV and once we were admitted into the hospital we learned that she also had Atelectasis.

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Between mid-December and end of January, we had been to the ENT, Urgent Care, and our Pediatrician a total of 6 times. She was swabbed for RSV once and it came back negative. She was diagnosed with an upper respiratory infection twice and given medication. She was checked (not swabbed) for RSV again and got the same result, negative. Things finally came to a head when she was tested for RSV the third time and it came back positive. Off to the hospital we went.

She was admitted into a room. After her initial workup and one breathing treatment, the doctor decided it would be best to send her to ICU. So that’s where we landed for 2 days.

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She was so sick. She was just lethargic. She slept so much and didn’t want to be touched and didn’t want to be held. She would not smile. People would call, text, and email me saying “Hang in there” and such, but I was actually so relieved that we were given a diagnosis and getting some help. JJ texted me in the middle of the night on our second night in the hospital to say that Annie had been hit with a terrible stomach virus and that they were up all night hopping from bed to bed. Wow, when it rains it pours! Both my girls were so sick and I couldn’t be in two places at one time. I wasn’t able to see Annie for a couple of days either, just to make sure that the virus wouldn’t spread to Kelsey. That was hard.

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After 5 nights in the hospital and around the clock breathing treatments and chest percussion therapy (a technique frequently used for patients with Cystic Fibrosis), our girl was well enough to go home! You could now call me the paranoid, germophobic mom who wants to keep Kelsey indoors until the temperature reaches a consistent 70 degrees! She is SO much healthier and happier and we have rescheduled her surgery for tubes. My fingers are crossed that things will only get better from here!

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Homemade Baby Food Experiment

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I have spent a lot of time lately thinking about Kelsey’s weight gain. With one glance, you can see that she rarely misses a meal; she’s quite chunky and  although she is small, there is plenty of her to squeeze and love on – just the way I like it. When Annie was her age, she was also a chunky baby but I did not think twice about her weight. When we visit my parents, we laugh as Annie eats all of her favorite goodies that are readily on stock there, Cheetos, Marshmallows, M&M’s, etc… Papa enjoys his visits with Annie because he gets to indulge in those little treats too! He wasn’t overly excited when I told him that the snacks MUST change once Kelsey reaches this snacking age. We’ll be trading in those sugary treats for carrot sticks & grapes.

Why all the fuss and obsession? Obesity is very common among individuals with Achondroplasia. Often, individuals with dwarfism suffer from physical pain that limits their level of physical activity. In a short period of time, weight gain can lead to obesity which in turn can be debilitating. A body which already struggles with weak bone and muscle support can easily be damaged by excessive weight. These facts make it very important for Kelsey to stick to a healthy diet.   I hope and pray that this is something that we can control. I have thought about it over and over again and I figure that if there is one thing I can do to help her with this, it is to introduce her to the wonderful world of fruits and veggies and maybe she’ll like those things ALOT more than me :-) So, I began a little experiment… Homemade Baby Food.

First, lets rewind to when I had Annie just 3 short years ago. I often thought of “those moms” who used cloth diapers, breastfed for what seemed like an eternity, and made their own baby food. Why would you go to such trouble when there are products out there that can make your life so much easier!!!? Sure its cheaper, but sometimes the convenience is worth the money, right? Touche’ my friends… Touche’! Now I’m the one tearing my kitchen apart 1 or 2 nights each week with veggies in the oven, on the stove, and in the steamer making weeks worth of baby food because I know its the healthier choice.  It does make a huge mess, and it is MUCH more convenient to go out and buy the food, but I have to justify this by reminding myself that now is an important time for Kelsey to develop a love for these healthy foods that will be so good to her body later in life. I’m hoping that this homemade stuff will make the transition from baby food to table food a little easier too.

So my experiment begins… I got on the internet and did some research. My top foods to try: carrots, apples, sweet potatoes, squash, zucchini, banana, and avocado. In an effort to make as many foods at one time, I baked the sweet potatoes, boiled the apples, and steamed the carrots. Once everything was all cooked, I let it cool before blending it in my food processor – which turned out to be too small so I switched to using the blender. After reaching a good consistency, I poured the blended food into an ice tray, wrapped it with clear plastic wrap, and stuck it in the freezer. The next morning, I popped the individual sized servings out of the ice tray and dumped them into a big ziploc bag. Voila! Now I’m one of “those moms!” I later cooked the squash & zucchini, and plan on simply mashing the banana & avocado when I’m ready to serve those.

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The experiment was a success. Kelsey seemed to like the food (no more or less than the store-bought stuff), and I enjoyed knowing that I made it for her. The clean up wasn’t so bad, especially considering that in the grand scheme of things, she may greatly benefit from the little effort I put  forth into homemade baby food.