Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Friday, August 23, 2013

Dog Days!

It has been a warm week in MN so we took the opportunity to get out and get wet!

Earlier this week we filled up the pool and splashed around!

Then we went out on the lake with my parents. We try to get out a few times a year, but just lost track of time this summer. Once is better than nine I guess! Parker loved splashing on the beach (those photos are on my other camera!) and liked riding in the boat. He hated the life jacket last year, but did well with it this year.
Playing in the sand after swimming and drying off.

Monday, August 19, 2013

The A Word

Thanks for your patience as I have processed things over the weekend.  We met with two doctors last Thursday to discuss their evaluation of Parker.  While it was not a surprise, it was still very hard to hear.


To be marginally more specific, Autistic Disorder is his official diagnosis.  I know, still kinda vague.  But, it's not Aspergers or PDD-NOS, I think, since we weren't given that specification.  I apologize for not being able to give more information, but I am still learning.  I have found there is a LOT to learn...

He was also diagnosed with hypotonia, or low muscle mass.  This is apparently common with Autism.  They was concern about his head growth (or lack there of) over the last year or so.  We were not expecting these last two diagnoses so that was surprising.  

So, what is next?  Therapy, lots of therapy.  We have a game plan and hierarchy of treatments.  Speech therapy is the foremost priority.  Currently Parker has no words.  We were told his language skills are mostly at a 6-9 month level.  We will be started speech therapy this week, which is very promising.  We also have occupational and physical therapy scheduled to start within a few weeks.  We have also scheduled a neurological consult and may need to have an MRI done to check on his brain growth.  The wait for that is 3 months...YIKES!  We will also be doing blood work and genetic profiling.  There are several weak genetic correlations that don't have visible indicators now due to his age.  Knowing these can help us understand the best way to treat him now and in the future.  Less important, but still on the list is an eye exam to get his base visual status.  We have no reason to believe he has sight issues, but it is standard practice to rule out any physical barriers to treatment.  Whew, it is tough to get a list of "recommendations" a page and a half long.

I am dealing with this as well as you could expect a mom to.  Thursday was tough.  I was a trooper during the meeting with the doctors, but broke down on the way home.  I had a work function that evening so I had to pull myself together again, but lost it by the time I was home again.  I pulled in to the garage and just wept.  For a good 10 minutes, I wept, uncontrollably.  When I finally walked in, I went straight to Parker's room.  I had just missed bedtime so he was still awake.  I went in and kissed and snuggled him.  And he ran around his crib and smiled and squealed.  And I cried.  This is a beautiful picture of this moment in our life.  It is tearing me up inside, but nothing is different for Parker.  He is the same happy, energetic, loving boy.   I expect there to be a few more fits of weeping, but my emotions are starting to level and reality of this new journey is setting in.  I am hopeful and optimistic, all while trying to remain realistic.  I have been wanting to reach out for support for a while, but didn't know (for sure) what I needed it for.  I have already spoken with a co-worker who has been on this journey for 12 years.  I have been reading this amazing blog for a few months.  Chrissy inspires me every day to never give up.  I can't give up on this beautiful boy.

If you chose to stay with me on this long road, thanks for your support.  This is one of those "I don't know what to say" situations and that is ok.  Just knowing you are here means the world.  

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Ready or Not!

Parker's team evaluation for developmental delay starts tomorrow.  In approximately 40 hours we will (hopefully) have a diagnosis and definitely have a plan of action.  I was excelling at not over-thinking it until an hour ago.  My heart started to race and I was suddenly scared and nervous for what may come.  It was such a relief to have this day scheduled 2 weeks ago, but now it's terrifying.  

I am worried that he will be in a bad mood or not want to do anything for the doctors.  I am worried that the hour long break between appointments tomorrow will not be enough to feed him and drive around till he falls asleep.  I am worried that if he doesn't nap (even for 20 minutes) he will be a crabby terror for his second appointment.  I am worried that they won't be able to tell us what is wrong, that they won't know how to treat him.  I am worried about how many appointments he may need a week.  I am worried about accommodating all his needs and still working full time.  I want to give him everything possible, but I am worried that I won't be able to.  Selfishly, I am worried how this will change our lives.  The time, the energy, the money that already seems so slim sometimes.

And then I look for peace.  I have not found it yet, in this moment.  I am hoping it is there when I wake up, or leave the house, or walk into that office tomorrow.

I don't know what will happen, but I know God has a plan for us.  A plan for Parker.  God made him perfect, no matter what the world says.  I know that no matter what happens, I will wake up to the same smiling face.  The same happy boy.  He is my heart and soul, my everything.

Thanks for listening.

Sunday, August 11, 2013

Iowa! (Are you excited?)

I was on vacation all last week.  It went WAY too fast and I am not ready to go back to work.  Jimmy and I have long been planning a trip to Des Moines.  Why, you ask?  Well, I left a little tidbit out of this post.  I also gave Jimmy tickets to see Owl City in Des Moines!  It was a little Parker-less getaway.  My parents kept him for a couple days and we road tripped it to Iowa!

We left early Friday morning, stopped at Holiday to gas up and get coffee.  After a minor (or not so minor) coffee mishap, we were on the road!  First stop was in Owatonna!  Adam Young of Owl City is from Owatonna so I thought it was a fun little homage to him!  We had breakfast at Costas' Candies and Restaurant.  It was a cute little Greek inspired diner in downtown with great reviews.  It certainly lived up to the hype.  Jimmy opted for a traditional breakfast, while I went a little out of the box with a gyro omelette with pita and tzatzikii.  Then we walked around "central park" and took in some of the culture (this is funny if you know how small Owatonna is.)
Next stop was Austin, MN.  Home of Hormel and SPAM!  They have a free SPAM museum and that was a good enough excuse to stop!
The SPAM wall in the entrance has 3500 cans!
SPAM was first released in 1937, but really took off during WWII when it was sen overseas to help feed the troops.  Jimmy helped to feed the troops by hoisting a crate of SPAM.
I took a shot at canning SPAM for myself.  It was a game where you fill, bake and label 6 cans.  At the end it tells you how many cans the plant could produce in that same time.  Plus, I got to wear a fancy white Hormel coat.
That was the last stop before Des Moines.  We had a couple hours to burn before check-in so we headed to a local mall for lunch.  We also stopped by the Apple Store since it's Jimmy's favorite place!  We have now been to Apple stores in 7 states!
We checked in to our hotel and rested for a while before gathering our things for the concert.  We went to a local hot spot for dinner, Zombie Burger.  They had 20+ burgers, ranging from typical to outrageous.  Jimmy and I went pretty safe, although his did have goat cheese.
The concert venue was amazing.  It was the Simon Estes Amphitheater on the Des Moines River.  It was a fun outdoor show!  Echosmith was the opening act.  They are a band of 4 siblings, age 14-20.  They had a great sound and I could see them going places.
 Owl City came on one the sun went down.  We were pleasantly surprised by the diverse crowd.  There were teens, families, even a few senior citizens (those may have been Adam Young's grandparents.)  It truly was an all ages show!

 We woke up Saturday and walked to the Des Moines Farmer's Market for breakfast.  It is HUGE!  10 square blocks of produce, baked goods, crafty stuff and food stands!
 I had biscuit and gravy, which was delicious!

 I also came across a cute little ice cream sandwich truck.  I am a sucker for snickerdoodles and this was phenomenal!  A great way for end a great trip!
On the way home we stopped on Ames to visit my "little sister" Emily.  We ate at Hickory Park which has been an Ames institution for over 40 years!  Our food was wonderful and they have a bajillion flavors of ice creams and sundaes and malts and shakes!  Plus, it was cheap!  I recommend you all stop here on you next drive down (or up) I-35!

 Sorry, this was kind of a long post...Here is my special parting gift!  We had fried SPAM for breakfast this morning.  It was my first taste and it was pretty good!  Thanks for sticking will my stories and pictures!

In other news...

As you know, we travelled to Nebraska early last week for my grandma's funeral.  Despite the occasion for the trip we did have some fun.  We stayed with my aunt and uncle on their farm.  The first night we slept in a camper.  This was Parker's first "camping" experience.  He even got to take a bath in the camper shower!
 We got to run around outside and not worry about cars in the street!
 He was very hesitant when it came to bed time though.  He did not want to sleep!
 He got to eat at the table like a big boy in Grandma's old booster seat.
 In case you were wondering, this is what I look like in the morning...
 You KNOW you are in the sticks when you a sign like this.  We only have "Pavement Ends" signs around here!
 Parker was a super star traveller!  We got back just before midnight Tuesday night.

Thursday, August 8, 2013

Saying Goodbye to Grandma Jensen

Clara Theresa (Moser) Jensen, 84, passed away on Saturday August 3rd, 2013 surrounded by her loving family at the Stanton Health Center. 

Clara, the daughter of John and Clara (Henkenius) Moser was born on December 16, 1928, in Elgin, Nebraska. She attended St. Boniface School in Elgin, graduating in 1946.

On September 4, 1950 she married Reuben Jensen, Jr., at St. Boniface Catholic Church in Elgin, Nebraska. Clara raised 12 children while farming and milking cows with Reuben in Stanton County. She lived south of Pilger most of her life until moving to the Stanton Nursing home in 2007. Clara was a member of St. Peters Altar Society, Ladies Auxiliary VFW Post 3602, and the Valley Culture Club. 

Her spirit lives on through her children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren. Clara provided love and care for her husband Reuben and all their children instilling her faith and gentleness.
Clara loved to bake chocolate chip cookies for her grandchildren. There wasn't a time when we came to visit and the children would scurry down to the freezer to get those cookies.

Below is my favorite picture of Grandma Jensen.  That's not her real hair, just a wig she put on.  
When my brother would be mean to me she would chase him around the house with a fly swatter.  It was hilarious!  She was the kindest woman I have ever known.  She had more than enough room in her heart for 12 kids, 52 grandchildren and 44 great-grandchildren.  

I stayed with my grandparents for a few weeks ever summer.  One of my favorite memories was when I was probably 12 or so.  We were making the drive to church on Sunday morning.  All of a sudden she yelled out, "Oh no!  I forgot my teeth!"  She said we would have to leave right after church and not talk to anyone.  She milked cows into her 70's and seemed to love it.  She put everyone before herself and was always willing to lend a hand.  

She struggles with Alzheimer's over the last decade or so.  Anyone who has experienced this disease knows how tough it can be on family and friends.  I loved to visit her, but it was always a tough and emotional time.  She was strong woman of faith and I have no doubt that she is rejoicing with God in Heaven.  Her faith was central in almost everything she did. 

Below are the last pictures I have of her.  They were taken last spring, the last 2 at my grandpa's funeral.
Parker (7 weeks), my mom, Grandma Jensen
Parker (4 months) and Grandma Jensen
4 generations
I love you Grandma, see you up there!

Thursday, August 1, 2013

Family Photos

I mentioned a few days ago that we had family pictures taken last weekend.  We just got all of our photos and I could not be happier with the results!  Daisy Jane Photography did a fabulous job!  She has one more mini-session day scheduled for September 27th and it is an incredible value!  I highly recommend contacting her if you are interested.  So excited to share our pictures!

We were at Father Hennepin Park in Minneapolis which is by the stone arch bridge.