Tuesday, November 30, 2010

I Could Have Danced All Night...

Here's MY fair lady, dancing the Saturday morning away!

Ellie is loving her little dance class.  Was there any doubt?  I am loving her loving it.  And I am loving on my sweet, sweet cousins; one who is her dance instructor and the other who is her dance helper.  We are so blessed to have such Ellie-adoring family.

Forgive the quality of some of these pictures.  In my defense, I had to shoot most of them from behind a glass window.  And, you know, librarian-types are terrible photographers.

Getting her ballet slippers on in the foyer...
Goody, goody gumdrops!  Class is starting!
Joining her ballerina friends...
Intently listening to the instructions (and secretly hoping that a song from The Little Mermaid will be played :-)...

Time for the tap shoes!
Sitting in the circle, while everyone gets a chance to perform a 3-second "tap solo"...
Fred Astaire Ellie's turn!
To say that she loves the sound her tap shoes make is a bit of an understatement...

When do I get to come back, Mom?

As you can see in the pictures, Ellie is fitting into her class quite nicely.  She has obvious limitations and differences, but the girls have accepted her with open arms.  In fact, one of her fellow ballerinas asked if she could borrow Ellie's walker for the recital.  HA!
Again, I can't say enough about Ellie's dance helper.  She pushes Ellie to the next level and, although Ellie's exhausted by the end of class, she is so happy.  

I'll admit that it's sometimes hard for me to bring her to dance class and watch, as I so wish I could make her movements come as easily as for all the other girls in her class.  Ellie's difference is marked and it hurts my heart.  But, then I look at her smile and realize it's okay.  And I'm proud that we're doing this for her--and so thankful for everyone who's made it possible.  

She really is my ballerina princess.

Friday, November 5, 2010

Tender Tennessee Fall

We went on vacation last week! It was truly glorious. We met up with Ellie's "Southern Grandpa & Grandma" and Uncle Jonathan in Gatlinburg, Tennessee. Right smack-dab in the middle of the Smoky Mountains. The absolutely gorgeous, leaves-turning-colors-for-fall Smokies. It was a wonderful time of enjoying family and soaking in the beauty of scenery that's not as flat as a Canadian Prairie pancake.

We flew down to Tennessee, and our travels were a great testament of how far Ellie's come in the last few months. She did so well with her walker in the airports. This was the first time that she went through the security screening in her walker, instead of her stroller. She was very proud of herself! When the security agents were done with her, Ellie insisted that she "pat down" Mommy and Daddy, to make sure we were safe. Tee hee!

Ellie also surprised us at the cabin. Our bedroom was downstairs and Miss Ellie decided that she could walk up the stairs by herself. Well, almost by herself.  With one hand, she held onto the railing, and she put her other hand inside ours.  But, she was able to get her foot up on top of each stair and pull herself up!

I know that pictures speak louder than my words (which is hard to believe, because my words can be LOUD!), so here's a bunch for you:

Everywhere you turned, there was a "fall display" just begging for picture-taking!  Here's Ellie outside one of the displays at the Gatlinburg Aquarium.
When did her legs get so long?  She definitely gets those genes from me.  HA!
I am not a fish-lover by any means, but, like Ellie in this picture, I can appreciate weird creatures.  And these guys were WEIRD.  They're little water worms that poke their bodies out of the sand.  A mix of gross and kinda-cool.

Sweet girl lovin' all the marine life....
There was "Big Game" fever all over Gatlinburg!  Of course, we had to get a picture of Ellie in front of fellow Alabama Crimson Tide fans!
Can you hear it?  Can you hear my precious girl saying ROOOOOOOLLLLLL TIDE ROLL?!
And now, can you hear Richie and me saying ROLL TIDE?!  We took advantage of our babysitters and drove the hour down to Knoxville to take in the Alabama vs. Tennessee game.  It was SO. FUN.  Especially since Alabama won 41-10.  Man, I could do that every Saturday...

Another photo op at the Christmas Store...

Ever wondered how Ellie plays pool?  Here ya have it...
The view was breathtaking.  Truly. 
From our cabin's deck, you could see a quaint little church.  There were several weddings taking place during the week we were there.  Cute!
Ellie LOVED sitting out on the deck, breathing in the fresh mountain air....

Even more than the beautiful surroundings, Ellie loved spending time with her Southern Grandma and Grandpa.  Richard's parents live down on the Tennessee/Alabama border, so we don't get to see them nearly enough.  But, when we do, they certainly shower her (and us!) with love.  

Throwing leaves (and, boy, were there lots to choose from...)!

Picking out homemade taffy to bring back and give to all her kindergarten buddies!
Only in Tennessee do you find rocking chairs at the airport.  It helped make our six-hour delay a little more tolerable (ack!)....

If you ever have a chance to get to the Smokies in fall, I highly recommend it.  We had so much fun and the colorful leaves were amazing.  And, Ellie just keeps getting easier and more fun to travel with!  A great time was had by all!