Friday, May 28, 2010


Goodbye Orlando.  You have been good to us....thanks, in part, to the toll roads, which, while robbing us dry, allowed us to bypass any significant rush hour traffic when leaving the therapy center at 5:30 every weekday.  City life, sans traffic, is my best!

Goodbye Conductive Education Center of Orlando.  You have been beyond good to us.  Words simply cannot express how we have fallen in love with so many people who grace your hallways every day.  The people who have loved on Ellie to the point of tears.  The people who have believed in Ellie from the moment she slowly walked through the door.  The people who have work tirelessly to ensure that other Ellies can receive the same sort of treatment and education.  The people that Ellie has asked about first thing every morning: "Which kids are going to be there today?"  "Who's going to be my helper?"  The people who have dropped their kids off to "work hard" with Ellie for 3 hours and, in turn, have become sweet new friends to me.  Mmm.  It's a wonderful place and we will miss it dearly.

Goodbye palm trees.  And warm winters.  And hot summers.  And the weird, mystery fruit tree in our back yard.  I have enjoyed you every day.  I have also enjoyed the team of gardeners that weekly tend to you.  Nothing is better than taking in the beauty of yardwork performed by other people.

Goodbye swimming pool.  Oh, how we will miss you!  My previous bathing suit lasted 4+ years (though it probably should have retired by year 3).  Now, I'm looking to replace my swimsuit of 6 months!  We have had a LOT of fun in the water this winter and spring.

Goodbye beach.  Thank you for providing Ellie with hours of sand castle-building and salt water-tasting fun.  (Thank you, also, to the inventor of the portable vaccuum cleaner.  That sand gets EVERYWHERE!)

Goodbye Einstein Brothers Bagels.  Sniff, sniff.

Goodbye Caroline.  Actually, I really mean BYE, Caroline.  While you are a cute 10-year-old neighbor, I could have done without the noise of your pink Barbie car at 7am on Saturday mornings.  But, Ellie is fond of you and I'll miss her asking, "Is Caroline looking at us?"  every time we pull into the garage.

There are, of course, many other "little" things that my heart will miss about Orlando, about Florida, about the South, and about the States.  Our time down here has been blessed.  We are so thankful. 

We look onward and upward (literally) as we start our long journey home.  See ya next Sunday from the other side!
Our special goodbye picture with "the twins".  Sweet Sophia and Ellie are so similar in personalities and abilities, it's funny!  Ellie refers to Sophia as her "Florida Best Friend".  I've had a great time getting to know Sophia's mom too.  Here's to the "Thursday Crew"!

This was the stuff I was sending down on the elevator.  Yikes.  It's gonna be one full van!  Pray for safety as we likely won't be able to see out the back window!

Monday, May 24, 2010

We Can Tell You How to Get, How to Get to Sesame Street...


Remember me?  The bad blogger?  The BUSY blogger?  I'm still here!  And so's Ellie! 

These have been a couple of jam-packed weeks for us.  We're trying to tick things off the "Things I Want To Do While In Florida" list, and with only about a week left, we've got to be diligent (ie: crazy)!

Ellie, of course, continues to thrive in her Monday-Friday therapy/conductive education routine.  She's working on her strength and stamina, especially with solo cane-standing.  Learning how to walk with canes is a very difficult process (as I'm sure I've mentioned before), but every (literal) step means that Ellie is one inch closer to the goal.  We're so proud of her!

Last weekend, we cashed in Ellie's birthday gift from Southern Grandpa and Grandma and headed down to Tampa.  We took Ellie to Busch Gardens because they have a "Sesame Street Land" on property.  Ellie loves her some furry monsters!  She had a "sunny day, sweepin' the clouds away"... (In fact, maybe her experience was a bit *too* sunny...we could have used some clouds to break up the 95-degree day!)

Ellie wanted to walk EVERYWHERE!  We made her drink a LOT of water, cuz it was HOT!

Lovin' all the rides...

Daddy taught Ellie how to REALLY ride the "roller coaster"!

Ellie definitely wanted to keep her distance from the "in real life" characters...silly goose.

Best part of the day: SHOPPING in the (air conditioned!) Sesame Street Store!

Showing off her new cup.  Her therapists have been working with on getting her to use "big girl" cups and she's doing really well with it.  So, this cup goes with us to therapy every day now!

During the song-and-dance show, Elmo asked the audience to "laugh like a hyena" .  Apparently, Ellie knew what that meant!

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Pictoral Update

("Pictoral Update", also known as "Nothing Exciting Happened This Week, So I'll Just Leave You With a Few Cute Ellie Pics" :-))
Ellie is learning how to stand up in her walker all by herself.  In order to do this, she has to hold onto the back bar of the walker and pull herself up.  Then, she has to turn herself 90 degrees so that she's facing forward.  Here she is, trying to side-step (VERY difficult for her to do) so that she can face forward and start walking.

Practicing her fine motor skills by using utensils...
Ellie's "Florida BFF".  Sweet, sweet girls!

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Life's a Beach

I get it now.

It all makes sense.  I now understand why Southerners flock to the beach in the summer. 

Up until last weekend, we had been to the coast a few times during our Florida stay, but each time, it was windy and chilly and we had sandy toe jam for days afterward.  Not my idea of an amazing time.

But, that all changed last weekend.  The temperature in Orlando was nearly 100 degrees (40c) on Saturday.  The temperature at the beach was 80.  And breezy.  And the water was perfect.  And Ellie thought she had died and gone to heaven.

It was truly wonderful.  No doubt that we'll do it again this weekend!

Once we were all cleaned up and out of our bathing suits, Ellie kept begging and begging and begging to go walking by (and into!) the water.  It was so precious.  Once she got in her walker, she was OFF!

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Shout Out

We LOVE our church.

We MISS our church.  A lot.

And, without question, we are loved back.  They have cried with us.  They have rejoiced with us.  They have supported us; spiritually, emotionally and financially.  They have prayed.  And prayed.  And prayed.

Last week, one of the church staff asked if I could whip up a little "update video" that could be shown in Sunday's service.  There are still some non-techies out there who don't have the internet, which means they can't read the frequent blog and Facebook updates. (For shame!)

So, being the rock-star computer-savvy person I am (HA!), I put something together.  And it was shown in the morning service.

Since Sunday, I have heard from so many church-friends, saying hi and thanking me for the updates.  I have also heard that following the video, Ellie was prayed for and loved on, even from 1500 miles away.  How amazing is that?!

So, I just wanted to send a special "We love you and miss you" to our church family back home.  THANK YOU for loving our little Ellie so very much.

Monday, May 3, 2010

Walking With Canes, Part III

Look at her go! 

It's hard to see on a video, but Ellie is moving the canes all by herself.  She is not yet strong enough to balance them completely on her own, so the only thing that Joyce, her assistant, is helping her with is stabilizing the canes on the ground as Ellie brings them to the floor.  What's really great is that she's now walking with her AFOs (leg braces) on.  While initially it's more difficult for Ellie to walk with her braces, they really help keep her feet flat and straight (her natural tendency is to tip-toe and turn her feet inward).  When we first started with canes (2 1/2 months ago), Ellie threw a fit when we put on her AFOs and asked her to walk with them!  She said, "It's too hard!"  And now....

Well, just look at her!