Friday, May 29, 2009

Ella and her Kidneys

Ella had her kidney tests done this past week.

She still has Vesicoureteral Reflux (VUR) in both kidneys, but things look a little better than last year (her right kidney is now a grade 1-2 and her left kidney is a grade 2-3).

Her kidneys themselves look good though.  They are growing appropriately, are equal in size and show no signs of swelling or scarring -- which is really great news.

We now have some decisions to make, and they're not easy ones.  The pediatric urologist we see gave us a few options and we've talked with our pediatrician as well.

Our choices are:
1.  Continue with daily medicine, keep a close eye on her (for urinary tract and kidney infections -- kids with VUR can get really sick really quickly) and retest next summer.  However, long-term treatment with antibiotics may cause the bacteria to become resistant leading to more infections.  But it may not.
2.  Do a minimally invasive procedure called Deflux, which is an endoscopic treatment with a chance of being a single, daytime hospital visit.  Then keep her on a precautionary antibiotic treatment for at least 3 months and retest her in a year to make sure things look okay.  However, during the procedure the child is put under general anesthesia and some children may need more injection procedures over the years or may eventually need to have the full kidney surgery anyways if the Deflux doesn't work.
3.  Do the full abdominal surgery on both kidneys (which has a 98% success rate) but has a longer hospital stay and is, well, major SURGERY.

There still a small chance she could outgrow it, although this doesn't look too likely based on the reflux grade and her age.  Our pediatrician does recommend surgery by age five, if needed, which is also a consideration.  

Tom and I have been talking this weekend, have a few more questions for the urologist and will hopefully make a decision within the next few days.

As for the procedure itself, we had to be at the hospital by 8:15 am, so it was up and out the door earlier than normal.  Grama Dianne hung out with Zoe, which was a HUGE help!!  Zoe and Grama actually came in for the ultrasound part of the appointment and Ella did a super job keeping still while Zoe was very wide-eyed during it all.  Afterwards (and into the next day) she asked Ella numerous times to show her her tummy (even though there wasn't anything to see).  I thought that was kind of funny.

Ella was a trooper, like she always is with medical stuff.  She was also really sweet and thoughtful -- anything she got (chapstick for the gas mask, stickers, little treats and Teddy Grahams) she asked for another to give to her sister. 

Ella before the procedure, smelling the chapstick in her gas mask.

She also really enjoyed the 'Giggling Gas'.  During the procedure she did really well, got laughing so hard at one point the nurses and tech person were laughing too, and even fell asleep for a bit.  Afterwards, the combination of being really tired and not feeling great (it hurt to go to the bathroom because of the catheter and dye) made for a fussy girl and she cried on and off.  The worst part really was how much it hurt for her to go potty for the rest of the day.  

I have to say, I am so impressed with our awesome Children's Hospital.  They sure know their stuff and they know how to make things not as scary for little ones.

We had big naps that afternoon and since then the girls have been playing in the mud, literally.

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Meet Henry

Look close, can you see him?

He's kind of greenish-grey and likes to hop -- a lot.

Ella and Zoe named him Henry and made this nice home for him.

They carried him all over the place this afternoon.

They thought he'd really like the big swing.

They did anyways.

We hope he liked being held.
He got a lot of attention before they let him go.
I wonder how much time we'll spend
with Henry the Toad (or a look-alike version) this summer?
I'm guessing a lot.
As long as they don't get too chummy with a snake, I'm fine.

Norway and the Conservatory

Last week we met our dear pal Heather and her niece Norway at the Como Conservatory.  I don't know what Zoe and Ella enjoyed more -- spending time with Norway or all of the beautiful plants and flowers.  One things for sure, they always love being with Heather.

In case you didn't know, you can click on the photos to enlarge them.
This took me a while to figure out.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009


Just wanted to share.

I wish I could somehow add how delicious
our backyard smells right now, too.
I love late Spring in Minnesota.

Guess Where We Were . . .

The Sculpture Garden in Minneapolis!!
Do you see the Spoon and Cherry??

Zoe and Ella were mesmerized.

After checking out some other sculptures we
walked up all these stairs to look over the highway.

Z and E take after their Dad, no fear of heights.

They also loved all the climbing and the giant swing,
just like their Dad.

The girls called the greenhouse a 'treehouse'.

And we took a moment to stop and admire the flowers.

Then it was time to eat some dinner.
The fancy furniture at the Old Spaghetti Factory was another big hit.

But the ravioli was an even tastier treat!!

The theme of 'Taking After Daddy' continued,
although neither girl realized
they weren't actually playing the video game.
They still are cheap dates.

After dinner we took a hike up the hill at Gold Medal Park.

Our last stop -- looking out over the Mississippi River in the yellow box at the new Guthrie Theater.  Very cool.
Ella and Zoe were more interested in the bugs caught between the glass than all of the amazing scenery though, which made us laugh.

And then the girls took after me, just a little bit . . . 
. . .  tired at the end of a fun adventure and ready to head home.

Monday, May 18, 2009

I ♥ Faces ~ Blurb Photo Book Contest

I recently found this cool photography blog (I ♥ Faces) where they have weekly themes and contests.  I am totally an amateur photographer (I don't even consider myself a photographer, I just really enjoy taking pictures of Ella and Zoe), but thought I'd participate just for the fun of it.

This week the theme is "your best face photo EVER!" 

I have SOOOO many favorite photos, so it was hard to choose.  But I'm short on time and am still learning how this all works (I hope I submit this post correctly).

The photo I chose was taken last summer of Zoe and Ella -- I love how truly happy and in the moment they both are and how the photo shows how much they love being with each other.

(I am submitting this photo into the Blurb book photo contest. If chosen, I grant I ♥ Faces permission to use my photo in a printed version of a book for commercial use and possibly advertising of a photo book on both the Blurb and I ♥ Faces web sites.)

Be sure to check out the other entries at I ♥ Faces,they are all so good!!

Sunday, May 17, 2009


This past Friday was the last day of ECFE for Zoe and Ella.
Their LAST DAY of Early Childhood Family Education.
This makes me a little sad.

It was a fun morning though.  Tom went with us and we brought hanging baskets full of colorful begonias as a
'Thank You' for their teachers (from the whole class).

To celebrate we had a picnic lunch after class.

But seriously, how did we get to the end of our ECFE time?
Five years ago, the thought of going to an ECFE class
with my own child was something I only dreamed about.

Three years ago I brought my
5 month old twin daughters to our first class.
We only went one day that first year (our pediatrician recommended not going because of the risk of RSV),
but that one morning was a highlight for me.

Two years ago our Fabulously Fun Fridays began . . . 
School, teachers (Teacher Lee and Teacher Kristi), new friends (Bella and Billy), lots of playing, lots of learning and lots of fun times.

This Past Fall . . .  
. . .  the girls met Teacher Randee, Teacher Louise and Teacher Susan
and started the Two and Three-Year Olds Class.  New friends (Kiki, Mia, Maddy, Mac, Justin, Lincoln, Teagan and Johann), old friends (Bella and Billy) and lots of new learning experiences.  It was a year full of fun and many memories.  I'm going to miss it.

But  Next Fall Zoe and Ella will join
the Ladybug Class at North Como.  They'll meet new teachers
and make new friends.  They'll learn all sorts of new stuff.
Preschool here we come!!

Friday, May 15, 2009

Dr. Fred

Last year the girls went to the dentist for the first time.

Zoe was very curious about it all and enjoyed being the patient.  Ella absolutely loved it.  She flew through the front door saying 'Dr. Freeeed' in a very cheerful and excited voice.  Later that night she insisted she was even named after Dr. Fred (she's not, I promise).

This year both girls started out excited.

Zoe wanted to go first and really got into having her teeth checked.  She took the whole thing very seriously (was very wide-eyed), followed directions and thought bubble gum flavored toothpaste was the best thing ever.

Ella wasn't as into it.  She tolerated it and did what she was asked to do, but each time her mouth was free of dental tools she immediatly turned her back and told me she was all done.  She did love the mirror though (not a surprise).

Both girls have healthy, strong teeth and NO cavities.

Possibly the best part?
They have been playing 'dentist' and keeping each other occupied for good chunks of time.  And their dolls and stuffed animals have never had such clean, fake mouths.

Getting ready to leave

Zoe's turn

Ella's turn

Dr. Fred's turn

And yes, holding your sister's hand for support does help, at least a little bit.