Wednesday, April 28, 2010

If I Knew You Were Comin', I'da Baked A Cake...

This year, Ellie received her very first gift card as a birthday present.  Or, more accurately, the first gift card that we actually let HER use!  She has become a bit of a shopping diva and loves to pick out toys and clothes.  Especially at Super Target.  Oh, yes.  We're only in the States for a few months, but I have quickly taught the girl well. 

So, with Auntie Cherise's gift card in tow, Ellie and her dad perused the aisles of Super Target and she chose to buy an Easy Bake Oven.  She's going to be a world-famous chef, just like her mama!

I'm sure that Ellie's occupational therapist would be happy, as there is ample opportunity for fine motor practice with the hands-on Easy Bake.  (For those who are wondering if the SDR surgery resulted in fine motor improvement for Ellie, I would have to lean towards "no".  She has improved in that area, but I think it's a result of age and practice.  Dr. Steinbok said that we might see significant improvement in this area, but we shouldn't expect it.  He only operated on the nerves which send messages to Ellie's legs, so any residual upper body effects would be a big bonus.)

What follows is a pictoral synopsis of Ellie's Easy Bake Adventures:

1. Stir up the water...

2. Add the outrageously overpriced packaged mix to the water.  Stir...

3.  Put the batter into the huge pan....WITHOUT eating it first!

4.  After waiting (not so) patiently, listen for the Easy Bake Light Bulb Oven to beep, and then carefully pull your masterpiece out...

5. Show fellow Chef Extraordinaire (Mommy) the amazing cake.  Hope you're hungry because we'll each get a piece at least the size of a finger nail!

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

The Florida Way

Ellie's strength and stamina are improving at such a fast rate that it's allowing me to be (extra) "Mean Mom".  Now, instead of stroller-ing her to the pool, I make her WALK there (it's approximately 1 block from the house)!  It still makes me laugh to watch her zoom around in her walker, while sportin' her bathing suit.  Gotta love the South!

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Catching Up

Well.  I blinked and then it was a week later.  How did *that* happen?

As usual, things have been busy.  Ellie did some daddy-bonding this weekend as I flew up to Washington for a bit of a girls' weekend (it's strange to refer to DC as "up" north!).  It was a FANTABULOUS break for me (though my gut is still sore from all the laughing I did with the chickas!), and a good time for Richard and Ellie to do some father-daughter activities.

'Course, Richard couldn't last an entire weekend alone with Ellie, so his parents drove down to Orlando to help out.  (Just kidding....They had scheduled their visit well before I decided to go away for the weekend!)  They're here till the end of the week, so the good, yet busy, times keep rollin'...

Ellie's doing sooper-dooper.  I was just chit-chatting with her conductor-therapist, and she was very pleased with Ellie's new-found ability to sit (both with legs to her side and in front of her) from lying down.  We've been working on this skill for YEARS now, and it's only been in the past couple of months that Ellie's gained the trunk strength to accomplish it.  Whoop! 

Since I don't have any new Ellie pics on my camera, and it pains me to post a photo-less entry, I'll leave you with a goodie-but-oldie.  Love y'all!

April, 2006. 

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

It's Going SWIMMINGLY...

I'm not sure if this is directly related to Ellie's SDR surgery, but we've been so impressed with her ability to SWIM this year. She has always been a fish and loved the water, but it's only been in the past few months that she's really been able to navigate herself in the pool. She can kick those legs and give 'er!

And then last week, another one of my dreams came true.

Ellie swam ALONE. I was actually able to perch myself on a lawn chair and admire her aqua-beauty while on dry, warm, non-hair-wrecking land. It was pure bliss!

I think it's time to investigate some private swimming lessons for Miss Ellie when we get back home. I know that she'd love to ditch the tube and REALLY swim solo. Maybe she'll be the next great Paraolympian swimmer!

Here's another one that's just for fun, so you can hear Ellie talk a bit and breathe in a little more of her sweetness!

Monday, April 12, 2010

Give Me A "P", Give Me An "R"....!!

Plenty of things to be excited about, I know, but sometimes I have to admit that I'm plagued with discouragement.  At times, I sit here in front of the computer, contemplating what to post.  Do you want to see yet another video of Ellie walking the same way, with the same purple canes?  Do you want to behold yet another picture of Ellie squating at the wall bar during her conductive education class?  Retraining the brain is a painstakingly slow process.  BUT.  I also know that Ellie has been improving, almost daily.  I need to focus on those "little" things when camping in the valley, waiting for my hike up the mountain.  So, here goes...

Rock-star Ellie continues walking with assistance in her canes, quietly building up strength each time she accomplishes the task.  She lost some strength over spring break, while sick and on "therapy holidays", but I was pleasantly surprised how quickly she built her stamina back up.  By the end of last week, she was back to her pre-spring break self. 

Other people are struck by Ellie's awesomeness too!  I love this picture, as Ellie's assistant is obviously taken with her.  Sweet, sweet girl.

Gargantuan generosity.  Those are words that describe YOU, our dear friends and family.  Ellie has been showered with snail mail lovin' from the day we arrived in Florida.  Words cannot adequately express how our hearts have soared because of these constant love-reminders.  Thanks to ALL of you who have hugged us in this special way.  Ellie's face lights up when she sees her name written on an envelope or package--see, you're teaching the girl to read!

Running.....her MOUTH, that is!  Except, Ellie's running it in a GOOD way, ha!  During one of Ellie's pre-op visits, Dr. Steinbok mentioned that he'd seen a lot of speech improvement after Rhizotomy surgery.  He was cautiously optimistic that we would see similar advancements in Ellie.  Well, I don't know if it's a result of the surgery or "regular" development, but Ellie's sentences are becoming more complex every day.  She chatters pretty much non-stop...just like her daddy. :-)

Everywhere we go, Ellie wants to zip around with her walker.  Especially when we're shopping.  I think she loves the independence it gives her.  She is also just starting to get brave enough to hold onto her walker with only ONE hand, while grasping something (usually a toy, in a store) with the other hand.  That action requires a lot of balance and strength!  She only lets go of her walker for a couple of seconds, but the mere fact that she's initiating it on her own is really fantastic.  Usually Ellie is timid when it comes to "pushing her limits", but obviously the shopaholic in her overrides.  (Oh, man, Richard and I are in for some trouble in the coming years, aren't we?!)

Simply Sensational.  That's what Ellie is.  Really.  She is working SO.VERY.HARD.  Every day.  Sometimes I forget that every step she takes is a fight against what her body wants to do.  Ellie rarely complains.  She just continues to fight. 

Amazing PROGRESS, I'd say!

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Back to the Grind

Goodbye, Spring Break.  We sure enjoyed your visit!  Be back soon!

My family was here over spring break and it was fabulous time.  Ellie loves her little cousin and it was fun to watch them play.  Of course, true to "vacation" form, we all came down with nasty colds, which dampened our fun a bit.  Otherwise, we had a great time, relaxing, hanging out and taking in some of the Orlando sites.

Ellie had a break from therapy, which was also nice.  However, we noticed yesterday, upon our return to rehab, that the week off and bad cold had really stolen some of Ellie's strength.  So, I anticipate that this week will be themed "Getting Back On Track".  Poor Ellie!

While my family was here, we had a belated Birthday Party for Ellie.  Richard is the Ace of Cakes, so he made Ellie what she requested: a Belle cake.  I'll leave you with pics of both princesses.  Hopefully I'll have more pics and less boring posts towards the end of the week!

Admiring her birthday cake with cousin Zach

No, really, Belle DOES taste good!

Opening presents with some "help"!