Friday, December 23, 2011

Big Girl, Big Night, Big Week!

It's been a week of firsts for Miss Ella! After weeks of waiting, and breaking in her new skates, she finally got to hit the ice. It was such a nice afternoon having the entire rink to ourselves. Jason and I were able to share something we love with the person we love the most. She did really well. It was awesome to see her huge smile as she marched across the ice holding Jason's hands.
We spent about 25 minutes on the ice and she was so happy the entire time. She kept looking at her feet....determined how to make those skates work like Mommy and Daddy. I am sure we will have plenty of more fun days on the ice.

I got this skating thing Dad!
Our little Pnut moved up the ranks to big girl this week too. She spent her first night in her new bed last night. We got her a toddler bed to make the transition from her crib. I really wanted this to happen now before her sister/brother arrives, so she doesn't feel like her crib has been snatched from under her when the baby is home.
All smiles trying out her new bed!
It was a pretty good first night. She fell right asleep, with only a few little disturbances overnight (she fell off the bed!) She was one proud girl when she realized she didn't have to wait to be rescued from a crib and could walk in to wake up Daddy in the morning! Things could get interesting now :-)

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

No Wonder!

To say that I am frustrated with Ella's endocrinologist is an UNDERSTATEMENT! I have been questioning whether her thyroid hormone levels are correct for several months now (actually since June!) I have taken her for at least three blood draws to check and every time, the doctor seemingly brushed me off and said her levels were fine. I called again last week for another blood draw because Ella just seems to be a little off. She is sleeping lots, her skin is super dry (more than just winter dry), and she had a few other signs that I noticed a year ago before she was even diagnosed. At first I was told the results of the latest draw showed her thyroid levels to be borderline...and that they wanted to re-test. 24 hours later I got another phone call from the nurse who was backtracking big time. She said after "thorough review", the doctor decided to increase Ella's synthroid, without doing another blood draw. The history showed a decline in levels and she needs to go to one and a half pills a day...WHAT!! No wonder she hasn't seemed like herself. In one day she went from being borderline low to a significant increase in meds. I am thankful that I was at least persistent in having her tested multiple times. I hate to put her through so many needle sticks, but clearly it is best for her health at this point.

This was the final straw, solidifying my reasoning for heading to Boston for a second opinion. We have another check-up in Albany January 3rd. I am not expecting much from it. We head to Boston Children's hospital January 23rd where I am confident we will get more answers. In the meantime, I am optimistic that the new dose of synthroid will boost Ella's energy. She will hopefully be feeling good just in time for Santa's arrival.

Monday, December 12, 2011

Loving Lake Placid!

Ella and Jason taking in the view of Lake Placid
from the lobby of the 1932 rink.
If we weren't already feeling the holiday spirit, we do now after a wonderful weekend in Lake Placid. A Union hockey game was a good excuse for us to load up the car and head north for a little get-away. 

Pa and Ella enjoying some fun in front
of the hotel fireplace.
My parents joined us, making the weekend extra special. I have such wonderful memories of summers in Lake Placid at skating competitions. It was a blast to be back after nearly 20 years to share the magic of this beautiful little town with Ella.

Ella thought "hiding" behind the curtain in
the hotel room was hilarious!
 It was chilly, but the scenery was beautiful. There was just enough snow on the ground to look festive and not be a nuisance. There were all kinds of holiday events happening all around town. We saw Santa, there was Christmas music everywhere, and lots of good shopping! Our stay at the Golden Arrow Inn was Ella's first hotel experience. Who knew that one room could provide sooo much entertainment!

We packed a lot into our short stay. Ella wasn't a huge fan of being all bundled up in the stroller, but we did manage to make it a little fun for her too. She thought the bobsleds that were outside of many of the shops on Main St. were pretty cool!

Posing in one of the bobsleds on Main Street.

 By the time we got to the hockey game, she was loving that stroller. My mom was able to do laps around the 1980 rink and keep her away from the dreaded noise of the Union fans cheering on the team to a 5-2 victory (she is still not a fan of hockey games :-/)

Our big goal of the weekend though was to be able to take Ella skating for the first time. Unfortunately we missed the public skating session and a youth hockey tournament was consuming all the ice. It isn't quite cold enough for many of the outdoor skating areas in Lake Placid, so it looks like Ella's skating experience will have to wait a little longer. She is ready though. We finally found some little skates and of course she has a brand new skating dress! She has been practicing just walking on our carpet and has done surprisingly well. Hopefully we'll be able to try the real deal soon!
All ready for the rink!

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Going With My Gut...

Ella and Jason just after she was born.
Love at first sight!
Since the day Ella was born, Jason and I have vowed to give her everything she needs to have the best life. It was actually a promise we made to each other long before we had children. I think we have done pretty well so far...especially given the many issues we have dealt with over the past few years. Ella is growing and thriving. It is a wonderful thing to experience. It's not enough for us though. I have had this gut feeling for a while now (call it mother's instinct, I guess). I feel like there is still a missing piece of the puzzle or something more that we could be doing for Ella to make sure she reaches her full potential. She sees her doctors regularly and we seem to have her medications sorted out. It bothers me that I have to feed her five different doses of drugs every day though. I constantly wonder if we are doing the right thing. The specialists we see here in Albany are good, but they are not the best. I am not always confident they can handle the complexity of Ella's situation. When it comes to your child and medical care, confidence is very important.

 We want a second opinion and that is exactly what we are going to get! The process is underway now (insurance approvals, referral letters, etc) to get Ella into Boston's Children's hospital. I have done some research and found a specialist at children's. Dr. Joel Hirschhorn is a pediatric endocrinologist specializing in genetics. He works with a team of doctors in Children's endocrinology department which treats children with some of the rarest conditions. It seems like it would be a good fit considering Ella's genetic diagnosis and her hypopituitarism. Dr. Pelnik, our phenomenal pediatrician supports us 100% We have had many conversations over the past year about pursuing this opportunity. I had a long conversation with her yesterday and she assured me that this is the BEST thing that we could do for Ella. While she knows the doctors here in Albany are very qualified, they do not have the experience or resources that the doctors in Boston have.

Hopefully we will have all the necessary paperwork and appointments set up within the next week. I am anxious and nervous about the entire process. It opens us up to another round of difficult visits, but Ella will have the best doctors following her. I know in my heart we are making the right decision!

Monday, December 5, 2011

'Tis The Season

I am soo excited about Christmas this year. The holiday seems to get better and better the older Ella gets. I must admit, Christmas has not always been my favorite holiday. In fact, for years I actually seemed to dread December 25th. You quickly learn when you choose a career in news that there is no such thing as a "holiday" and for many years that meant my Christmas was spent in a newsroom with my co-workers. It's just not the same when you are away from family! We are fortunate this year for a more flexible Christmas falls on a weekend (my days off!) I am embracing the season and really enjoying every special minute.

Ella and Santa 2011!
I took Ella to see Santa this weekend. I have taken her every year, but this was the first year I was actually a little nervous about how she would react. She is certainly old enough now to realize stranger danger. Plus, an old chubby man with a big beard and a bright red suit can be a little intimidating. We waited in line and surprisingly she seemed unaware of the screams and tears from some of the children ahead of us (phew). She was a little more clingy than normal though! When it was her turn, the look on her face was priceless. She was very serious and a little unsure about why this Santa guy knew her name and was asking if she was a good girl. I wish I could have captured the whole thing on video but there are strict rules about personal pics and video in Santa land!

We managed to get a pretty cute picture thanks to the efforts of Santa's elf who wasn't going to stop until Ella smiled. We made it through another year without the screaming kid on Santa's lap picture. I have added Ella's two previous pictures with Santa. It is amazing how much she has changed. My baby is looking more like a big girl these days!
Ella's 1st Christmas!
Smiling with Santa in 2010!

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Happy Thanksgiving!

Happy Thanksgiving! I hope everyone had a wonderful day enjoying time with family, friends and lots of good food. We had a nice day with some good friends here in New York and then we will head to Woburn for the weekend to continue celebrating (and eating with family). It's really the best of both worlds for the Tapp's.
Thanksgiving 2011
This year we have so much to be thankful for. We have a healthy, beautiful little girl. Jason is loving his new role as the assistant coach for the Union College Men's hockey team, and I am enjoying my morning routine at work that allows me to be there for all of Ella's activities. We are also excited for our future! We will welcome a new addition in early June. Ella will officially be a BIG sister and Jason and I will be parents to 2, ahhh! We couldn't be more excited and are so happy to be sharing our news with everyone.

This was just the start to what will surely be a wonderful holiday season. We are all full from a great turkey dinner tonight and grateful for all that we have. Thank you to the Dumais' for hosting us this year and thank you to our families and friends for the endless love and support. I can't speak for Jason and Ella, but I can say MY heart is filled with happiness. I feel like the luckiest girl in the world!

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Icing On the Cake

I have already mentioned how much Ella LOVES to clean, and it seems that is not the end of her domestic appreciation. She also seems to be a budding baker. This girl loves to be in the kitchen. It is certainly not something she gets from me. I have a hard time following a simple recipe and if I can manage to make something without burning it, I'm cheering!
Ella helping mix the cookies!
Since I have to work on Thanksgiving, we will not be having dinner with family. Instead, we have been invited to some friends house to celebrate. I offered to help out and have been tasked with desserts. This is a good thing, since I have a few (just a few!) recipes in my repertoire that I have made often and feel confident enough to serve to others. I decided to get a head start on things this weekend since our weeks are usually packed with one activity after another.

I pulled out the mixer and all the ingredients and my little helper was by my side and ready to go. It was so fun to have Ella standing next to me on her chair, checking out each ingredient as I dumped it into the bowl. She watched in awe as the mixer whirled around and she studied me scooping out each dollop of cookie batter onto the pan. This was all so new to her and seemingly so exciting. As we waited for each batch of cookies to bake, she would run to the kitchen when the timer went off. Of course, taste testing was the icing on the cake! (Sweet tooth courtesy of her dad)

Hopefully the rest of the Thanksgiving baking will go just as smoothly. At least we'll know the cookies were made with love :-)

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Spoiled With Visitors!

What a week we had! Ella was spoiled with visitors. Grandma (Jason's mom) came to stay with us for the week. It was great to see her and for Ella to show off her turf. The last time we saw Grandma was in Michigan in August. Ella was really just starting to walk then and she wasn't talking much at all. Wow, have things changed in a few short months. Ella was full of energy and kept Grandma on her toes all week.

On Wednesday, we were joined by more visitors. Auntie Sharon (Jason's aunt) and her grand daughter Ava drove down from Vermont to spend some time with all of us. Sharon met Ella when she was just a newborn and this was Ava's first introduction (although she's seen lots of pictures on facebook :-)) Ava, who is 10 years old, was great with Ella. She kept her laughing for almost the entire time they were here. By the time the visit was over, Ella was exhausted from trying to keep up with her new big friend. It was so nice to spend some time with everyone.

We are all pooped and taking the quiet weekend to recharge our batteries. Even Tucker has been napping lots! I think that's a sign of a good time had by all. We will need all the energy we can get too...Thanksgiving is just a few days away. Time to start cooking!

Thursday, November 10, 2011

The Cleaning Lady

Ella LOVES to clean...the kitchen, bathroom, sweeping, scrubbing, even laundry....if it's a household chore, Ella is by my side to help out. As soon as she sees me head to the washer and dryer she runs over to join me and she gets really excited when it's time to fold the clothes. Break out the dust pan and broom and this girl is in heaven!

I can't complain. I do like to keep things neat, so Ella's affection towards cleaning is far better than the alternative. We like to refer to her as "Tornado Tapp" when she is playing (she loves to empty out the toy bin), but she does help pick up her toys and really prefers things to be neat. She likes drawers and doors closed so much that she is generally trailing behind me in the kitchen to keep me in check.

 Since we are realizing Ella's growing independence and love for "work", Jason and I have started giving her chores. Ella is in charge of feeding Tucker his breakfast and dinner. She proudly scoops his food into his bowl every day. It's become quite the routine. Last week, in a rush to get dinner done and keep our evening on track, I accidentally fed the dog....only to hear Ella from the living room shout "I do it!" as clear as day. Jason and I were floored. Not only did she realize she was missing out on her favorite chore, she also spoke an entire sentence. Her speech is improving every day, but this was like she has been talking forever. More and more we are hearing clear words and even some phrases. It's reassuring and exciting. We still have a long way to go in the speech department, but her progress is steady and that's all we can ask for. She just started a third day at school which will hopefully help her continue to make big strides!

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Happy Halloween! (A day later...)

Happy Halloween! What a fun weekend we had celebrating with family and friends. Ella dressed up as Abby Cadabby from Sesame Street this year...and I may be biased, but she was the cutest little Abby I have ever seen! My mom custom made her costume to be a nearly EXACT replica of the real thing. (I'm really hoping Ella gets her creative genes!) She was very excited to be all dressed up as her favorite character. She wore her Abby costume all day on Halloween!
Ella and The Nan at the parade!

Everyone all bundled up for the parade!
Halloween wouldn't be complete in my family without a trip to the annual Halloween parade in Woburn. We always went to the parade as kids, then we were in the parade during middle school and high school and now it's even more fun to take our kids back. This is the second year Ella has made the event. It was also the second year that we made it a family affair.

Lucy and I getting ready for her first parade.
She LOVED it!
There are lots of "little Lally's" in Woburn, so a big group of us decided to meet at my grandmothers to catch the parade together. We ended up having nine little ones running around. It was chaos...but in a good way of course! This year we had to bundle up too since it was FREEZING outside.

Our little Abby was not the happiest at the parade. The chilly weather and lack of nap made her less than impressed to be out and about at the parade. She rallied as long as she could and then sleep won out!

Sleepy Ella!

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Crazy Busy!

I think this is the longest I have gone with a gap in my blogging. We have been crazy busy! The days are just flying by. It's hard to believe that we are nearing the end of October. In just the past week alone, we've had a trip to the pediatrician, a visit to the ER, meet the teacher night, and a check-up with the developmental pediatrician!

Ella is doing great and proved once again that she is amazing. The developmental pediatrician sees her every six months. He was very impressed with how much strength she has gained and how much more active she is. The last time Dr. Malone saw Ella was February. She wasn't walking or crawling then. She had really just gotten used to the Synthroid (thyroid meds) and hadn't even started the growth hormone. Dr. Malone was the one who really urged us to consider growth hormone. He has seen tremendous results and really felt this would help in Ella's situation. I am soooo glad we took his advice.

Dr. Malone did suggest that we increase Ella's time at school. He thinks she would really benefit from a consistent schedule. We decided to add another day of Toddler group. Ella will love this. At meet the teacher night, she was so excited to show me all the fun things in her classroom. Her teachers were great. They say Ella is a rule follower and doesn't really like when the other kids step out of line! She is also warming up to the other kids a little more too. They say she doesn't like when others invade her space! This will be great practice for pre-school next year. We already registered her in the Rensselaer School District. Time is flying!
Happy Girl! This is the day we registered with
the Rensselaer School District.
Now you're probably wondering about our trip to the ER! Last week, I noticed a rash on Ella and was immediately concerned about MRSA. She contracted MRSA (a staph infection that is resistant to many medications) when she was just a few days old in the NICU. At the time, my little newborn looked like she had chicken pocks all over her body. She was treated with IV antibiotics and the rash eventually cleared up. We had another bout with the "super bug" (as it is commonly known) when she was six months old and we discovered her belly button wasn't healing because of another MRSA infection. This is something she will likely always test positive for and it's hard to understand how she even gets the infection in the first place. The good news is we have found a medication that works to clear up the infection. This time, she had a pretty big sore and the pediatrician wasted no time prescribing the strong meds to clear it up quickly. For some reason, the sore got much worse and by Saturday morning it was almost the size of a nickel and very clearly infected. I took her to the ER, where they drained it. It was a painful procedure since they only used a little numbing cream. Ella was great through the entire thing. A few M+M's right after they were done also seemed to help wash away her tears. Here we are almost a week later and the MRSA seems to be just about gone. Her cut where the soar was is healing nicely. The whole event was much harder on me than Ella I think. She bounced back immediately!

We are getting ready for Halloween now. Ella LOVES her costume! She was so excited to try it on. We probably won't do much trick-or-treating on Monday, but she will get to wear her costume to the big Halloween parade in Woburn. We're going once again this year with many of our cousins. I can't wait to see the kiddos all dressed up!

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Go Union!

Another hockey season is upon us. This is Ella's "3rd" season and last night was Union's home opener (Jason is the assistant coach). She has a brand new Union jersey and we painted U's on her cheeks to celebrate the night. I may be a little biased, but she was the cutest little cheerleader at the rink.
Pre-game....all smiles in Daddy's office.

 You may recall that I have written in the past about Ella's love-hate relationship with hockey games...more specifically the national anthem. She has a history of crying, freaking out actually as soon as the anthem starts. I went into Friday's game with a new attitude....renewed optimism that this season will be different. Ella is an independent toddler. She's walking and starting to talk. She is ready to take on the games!
Another hockey season, same result: TEARS!

HA HA HA...I may have over-estimated things a bit. The meltdown started with the introductions, reached a fever pitch by the national anthem, and by the time the first puck dropped, the U's on her cheeks were partly washed away by tears. The crying (freaking out) lasted pretty much the entire first period. We regrouped in the coach's office and I thought we could redeem ourselves for the second period.....NOPE! More tears, and complete misery ensued. We didn't even make it ten minutes into the second period when I raised the white flag. Less than halfway through game 1 and we were done!

There's another game tonight. Call me crazy, but we are going to try again. Since hockey games will likely be a part of Ella's life for a very long time, I have to TRY to at least get her to cope. Wish me luck!

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Stand Up TALL!

Look Mom, I can stand up!
Sometimes it seems like Ella is under a microscope because of all the therapy and doctors visits. So when she makes strides, it's always a celebration. Tonight we are celebrating! Ella can now get herself up to standing without having to pull up on something. It seems like such a natural thing that most kids manage to accomplish with little fanfare. However, for us, this is a goal we have had for a while. In true Ella fashion, she decided tonight was the night and she stood up and walked away like she has been doing it for years. Although I do think she may have even been just a little impressed with herself, since she practiced her new skill in front of the mirror for quite some time.

I love the excitement that I feel EVERY time Ella surprises us. It's almost like she knows when we need a little pick-me-up. While we are by no means sad or upset, there is always a worry. This morning it was the phone call telling us last week's blood work shows her growth factor is low again. Her levels dropped to 36 (normal is over 100). It's an easy fix. We just have to increase her growth hormone dose. In fact, Dr. Gleason says this just shows she is growing quickly and her body needs more of the medicine to continue her great progress. This is something we'll have to deal with and monitor for many years. The hope is that as Ella gets older, she'll be able to recognize when she's not feeling 100% and we can make adjustments accordingly.

So tonight we will boost her shot up a bit...and who knows, standing up on her own today....running tomorrow?!

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Giddie Up!

Today was Ella's fall carnival at school. It has been postponed twice because of rain, so everyone at Unity Sunshine was very happy the sun was shining today. The annual event is so much fun for the kids. They have face painting, a hay maze, bounce houses, a petting zoo and pony rides. I knew Ella would enjoy the day, but I never expected she would be as excited as she really was. She LOVED the goats at the petting zoo. I think she would have stayed there and pet the babies and fed them grass all day. In fact, when I arrived to pick Ella up her teachers couldn't wait for me to see her with her new "friends". They said today was one of Ella's best days and the animals seemed to bring out a lot of personality (and new conversation)!
Ella feeding the goats!
The pony rides were also a big hit. She took two turns around when I was there and kept asking for "more, more". I was amazed at how comfortable she was on Jellybean the horse. She held on to the saddle and rode around with so much confidence....and kept the pony working, kicking her legs when Jellybean slowed down.
A very confident Ella taking a ride with Jellybean.

This was such a great experience for Ella, my little animal lover. Now if we can just keep her from saddling up on Tucker, We'll be all set!

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

And The Results Are.....

Six months....5.7 lbs....4 inches....these are Ella's stats from her Endocrinology visit today!

Weighing in October 4, 2011...22.7 lbs
Ella now tips the scales at 22.7 lbs and stands 30.5 inches tall. AMAZING! Today's visit went very well. Ella was happy to show off how much she has grown and developed. Since her last check up in July, Ella has gained 1.7 lbs and grown 1.5 inches. Her growth is still going very well and the growth hormone therapy is working. Dr. Gleason admitted she would have liked to have seen a little more of a weight gain with this visit, but attributes this to all of the activity and walking, etc that Ella is doing now. She's not too concerned about our little skinny minnie. Dr. Gleason did however change her dose a little. She bumped up the shots to keep up with Ella's growth. We also had routine blood work done to check her other hormone levels. Her thyroid medication may actually have to be adjusted as well. Of course, Ella was a trooper in the blood lab. We should have the results back in about a week.
30.5 inches!
Thank you to everyone who wished us well with today's visit. I can't say enough how much the incredible love and support from family and friends means to all of us!

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

So Long September....

Wow! We are already at the end of September. Where has the month/year gone?! Time flies when you are having fun....and we certainly have had a lot of fun this year. Ella continues to impress us with new things every day. It's hard to I believe that just six months ago we started her growth hormone therapy. The shots have become just a routine part of our day now. The benefits of growth hormone have made such a difference. I really feel it was the best decision we could have ever made for Ella.

I know that kids change so much, so quickly in a year, but I feel like for Ella the changes and growing she has experienced are almost at light speed. Looking at pictures from just six months ago really show how much she has changed....and going back to pictures from last fall, her growth is amazing!

Picking pumpkins last fall...look how tiny she looks. Wow!
We have a BIG appointment with endocrinology on October 4th. Dr. Gleason hasn't seen Ella since July 5th. (I am a little crazy about these dates...each visit marks a milestone in it's own right!) She has definitely grown in height since her last check-up. She even has some too-short pants now! Weight may be another issue. All the height combined with a lot more activity has turned Pnut into a string bean. I'm not overly concerned though since her eating is much, much better now. I really don't think we could ever have imagined one year ago where we would be today.

Monday, September 26, 2011

The Dipping Queen

It has been a really busy month for us with Ella starting school, Jason's work and travel schedule has been hectic and we've had lots of good reasons to go back to Woburn on the weekends. We decided to lay low this weekend though and unfortunately that meant missing out on family fun (sorry we missed Keira and Lyla's party). Ella and I both had colds all week and I didn't want to risk spreading any more of our germs. It was really nice to not be running around and busy and definitely what we all needed. Of course by Sunday afternoon, the walls of the house were closing in on us and I needed to find something to do. Jason was recruiting in Ontario, so it was a girls afternoon!

The dipping queen! More bbq sauce please...
Ella loves to eat out and Panera is our usual go-to spot. I thought we'd change it up today and try Friendly's. It has been a long time since I have been to a Friendly's, but I knew it was kid friendly and I also knew if anything Ella would at least eat the ice cream. It was also a little treat since we try stick to a pretty healthy eating plan at home. Ella ate and ate and ate. She polished off nearly everything I ordered for her....chicken strips, carrots, and french fries and of course she saved room for her sundae. She really enjoyed dipping EVERYTHING in the bbq sauce that was served with her chicken. She used so much bbq sauce that I had to ask the waiter for a second order. She topped it all off with ice cream. I thought she would explode when I lifted her from the high chair. This was by far the most she has ever eaten in one sitting. She was so happy walking out of the restaurant.

Now if I could just get her to eat her meals at home that well, we'll be packing on the lbs in no time!

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Hairy Situation!

Mom, I could probably get through this tunnel faster if
my hair wasn't in my face!
It's back...Ella's "mullet" hairdo is making a comeback these days. Her cute little face is framed by a mop-top of dirty blond/light brown/sometimes-with-a-tint-of-red, stick straight hair. It's creeping over her eyes, barely skimming her ears and always close to a matted mess in the back. I have had it cut once and it was very nice and neat for a little while. I was assured by Cha-cha (the wonderful and quick hairdresser) that the cut would help Ella's hair "grow in better". Here we are a few months later and Ella's 'do is looking more like a don't.

Here's a good side view of the "mullett"!
HELP! Do I cut her hair again...(and risk her forever having a "boy" haircut)? Or do I stick it out and hope that by some stroke of luck her hair makes it past this horrible stage? I can usually manage to keep her hair looking neat with pig tails, pony tails and clips, but that's not always the case. I can already hear the conversation in about 13 years...."mom, how could you let my hair look like that!"

Monday, September 19, 2011

Frequent Flyers

Such a trooper...all smiles even when she isn't feeling good!
If the ENT doctor's office handed out freguent flyer miles per visit, we would be well on our way to our first free trip. Today will mark my third visit in two weeks to Ella's ear specialist. I am 99% sure she has ANOTHER ear infection. The poor girl spent the better part of the last two days pulling at her right ear, she has a low grade fever, stuffy nose, and many of the other symptoms that are all too familiar for us. The tell-tale sign of an ear infection with Ella is that she won't drink anything. If my instincts are correct, this will be Ella's 2nd ear infection this month. She was just cleared last week after battling a double ear infection. This is not good considering she had tubes put in this summer. The tubes are supposed to help with infections and drainage and they are helping, but for some reason she can't shake these infections. The doctor told me last week that there is so much fluid draining from her ears at this point, her ears and the tubes can't keep up. She had a build up of wax and fluid once again which has a serious impact on her hearing. For every step forward Ella is taking in her development, these ear issues set her back. It's an ugly cyle :-(

I need answers. I need to find a way to make Ella feel better. It breaks my heart to see her battling constant ear problems. It effects so much. She doesn't like to drink because its painful to swallow, her balance is thrown off and even riding in the car hurts because of the pressure. Not to mention, it's hard to grow a vocabulary and improve speech when you still can't hear well. Whenever we run into an issue like this I turn into "Crazy Col". I scour the internet for information, I badger friends and colleagues for advice and I bombard the doctors with questions.  Right now I am consumed with finding a way to help Ella. I have a full list of questions for Dr. Scheid today....mostly concerning how diet may effect Ella. I am considering a switch to soy milk to see if that helps curb these ear infections. I also wonder if there is a coralation between the excess fluid and hormones. I am no medical expert, but I am a mom and I will stop at nothing to get answers.

To be continued....

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Mom Guilt

Ella is heading off to her second day of school today...and the first day that Jason has to get her there before heading to work. Since I go to work at 3:30 am, the mornings are Daddy Daycare. Ella and Jason have breakfast together, a little playtime and usually a morning walk with Tucker before our babysitter comes for a few hours. Jason is a pro by now...managing to get it all done and get himself out the door (most days on time!)

Ella and me at the Tulip Festival Mother's Day weekend

In an effort to keep Ella out of daycare, we have both worked some crazy schedules in order to be home with Ella as much as possible. At times, this has been stressful and quite a juggling act, but in the long run WELL WORTH IT. We make a pretty good team and seem to have our routines down to a science (after two years!). I have no doubt that Jason and Ella will be just fine getting out the door to school and work on time. But...I am sitting in the live truck this morning, thinking about what THIS morning will be like. I left Ella's clothes out, her shoes are at the door and we even had a crash course on hair with daddy last night. Everything will go smoothly and it's nothing Jason can't handle. Still, I am sad that I can't be there to be the one helping get her ready. My mom was always home with us and the one to get us out the door to school. I guess it's more of that "mom guilt" that creeps in every so often. Every working mom makes sacrafices. I get up early and choose to work the am shift so that I can be home in the afternoon with Ella. I get to pick her up from school. I take her to swimming. I can play all afternoon and I can put her to bed. I am really only gone for a few hours in the morning. I can't complain considering I could be working all day or even all night. It's never enough though. It's a balance that I will never be satisfied with.

This is "guilt" I will have to live least until I win the lottery or find a way to clone myself. For now, I will just wait for my phone call this morning from Jason saying all went well (secretly, I can't wait to see how he does with her hair ;-) haha!) and by 1:00 HOPEFULLY my guilt will be tucked neatly away in the back of my mind again when I see Ella's smiling face and hear all about her day at school.

Family photo...LOVE xxoo

Friday, September 9, 2011

First Day of School

September 8, 2011 - Ella's "first day of school"
Thursday was Ella's first day of school...well the closest thing a 2 year old has for school! She had a successful start to Toddler Group. It was an exciting morning in our house. Ella was in a great mood and ready to go. She even cooperated perfectly for the obligatory first day of school picture. While Ella was happy and seemingly unaware of where we were headed at 8am...Jason and I were a mixed bag of emotions. In reality, you could probably say we were nervous wrecks (though neither one of us would admit it!) This was the first time we were leaving our little Pnut with strangers, outside of our house. We knew she was going to be in good hands. I had visited Unity Sunshine, toured the classroom, met the teachers and therapists, and even spoke to her teacher on the phone this week. We had good recommendations as well. Jen (Ella's PT) worked at Unity for several years. She explained the program to us and even walked me through much of the registration process.

There was no reason for us to be nervous. Ella walked into the classroom, right to the center of the room, looked around and seemed pretty impressed. There were kids everywhere. The drop-off room was busy with kids arriving and moms and dads meeting teachers and saying their goodbyes. Jason and I put her stuff in her cubby and chatted with the staff briefly. All the while, Ella never looked back! She didn't seem  concerned at all that we just brought her to this new place. She just stood there in the middle, taking everything in. We said our quick goodbyes, she waved to us and we were off. You would think that relief would set in....haha, NOPE! I even walked back to peek in the window of the classroom to make sure she was okay. Jason was worried because she was standing alone. We hashed out every situation possible during her two and a half hours in the classroom. Of course, all our worry was for nothing. Ella was all smiles and playing with another little girl when I arrived to pick her up. Her teachers said she had a good day!

We all survived day one. There were no tears (not even from me!), positive feedback, and lots of smiles and laughing from Ella for the rest of the day. I can't wait to see how well she does with all this change. Ella ALWAYS seems to rise to the occasion and impress us. I think this experience will lead to tremendous growth for Ella...and for Jason and me :-)

Friday, September 2, 2011

HUGE Personality!

There is little doubt that Ella does NOT have any of Jason's reserved personality. There is not a shy bone in this girl's body. She loves anyone that will hold her. She is full of hugs every time she meets someone new. She is quite the social butterfly. That was very clear this week when she had to come along to a work event.

News 10 hosted a fundraiser for Irene relief at the Saratoga Race Track. I have been reporting on the damage all week and was asked to share some of my personal experiences on our evening shows.  The storm certainly left it's mark here in upstate New York. Record flooding has literally wiped out entire towns. It is so sad to see. Every story has been so emotional. I am always humbled when I am talking to someone who has lost so much and they can still smile and see hope in the future. It makes you step back and realize that everyday problems that stress you out are minor compared to the heartache and loss these people are dealing with.

Ella helping Dave get the show on the air.
I took Ella to the track fundraiser with me...the one thing about every tv station I have worked at is that they tend to be "family friendly". Ella has been to the studio plenty of times and is pretty familiar with many of my co-workers. I had no doubt she would be on her best behavior at the track. She was walking all around our track set.

Posing with Albany Mayor Jerry Jennings.
 She helped our producer Dave make sure the show was perfect. She was very well behaved for our field producer Nicole (who watched Ella during my live shots). She posed for photos with Albany Major Jerry Jennings and she was all smiles for Billy Fucillo, the owner of several local car dealerships. Billy has a HUGE personality (anyone who has seen the commercials would agree with this), but he had some competition with Ella. She hugged Billy and was all smiles like she has known him forever!
One of my great co-workers Nicole with a worn out Ella.
Being cute takes lots of energy!

It was a great day at the track. It am happy that I could bring Ella with me. I will be able to share these stories with her when she is older. The event made me proud to work for WTEN. I am very lucky to have so much...a beautiful little girl, a loving family, the best friends in the world, and a job that allows me to meet new people and learn something different every day to name a just a few things. The list of "good" in my life, in the words of Billy, is HUGE!
Ella with Billy Fucillo...Pnut meets HUGE!

Monday, August 29, 2011

Monkey See, Monkey Do

I just finished filling out a stack of paper work for Ella to start SCHOOL! As of next Thursday, Ella will officially be enrolled in Toddler Group. It's a 2 1/2 hour morning preschool program offered through Early Intervention. The program provides kids an introduction to the school setting, while including services such as physical therapy, occupational therapy, and speech therapy. It also gives children the chance to be in a social setting which is exactly what Ella is lacking. We don't have any family here in New York and most of our friends have older children, so Ella's chance to play with someone her age is limited.
Ella reading to Lucy
I got a preview of how beneficial toddler group is going to be. We were visiting Woburn this past weekend and Ella had lots of time to play with Lucy (my niece) as well as some of her cousins, Sydney and Caylee. It was wonderful to see her so motivated by her peers. Ella could be considered a copy cat and that's just fine with us. She wanted to crawl just like Lucy...if you know Ella, this was huge. She never cared about crawling and still rarely gets down on all fours. She also wanted to use the "big girl" sippy cup just like her cousin Sydney. Sydney was nice enough to even let us borrow the Dora cup for our walk home! If we can just get her talking like her cousin Caylee, we'll be making big progress. Caylee has a very good vocabulary for an almost 2 year old!!!
Hopefully once school starts Ella will be copying more than Tucker!

These small glimpses of Ella's monkey see, monkey do attitude combined with her determination and an incredible group of family and friends is what makes all the difference. She is going to do so well at school. Stay tuned for the first of many "first day of school" pictures :-)