Dec 30, 2009

A Great Christmas

Out of the hundreds of Christmas pictures I took I'll share a handful.

Christmas #1
Evie and Adrian decided to perform a Nutcracker dance complete with a costume and music. Evie is of course the mastermind behind this.

Ainsley helped Grandma unwrap presents. Big ones too!

She got a "talker" you put a picture card in it and push a button and it says the name of the word. I'm excited about this. And it seems like she can do it as long as I can keep her from putting the cards in her mouth. Ainsley says thanks for the generous gift Grandma!

Christmas #2

Evie, Adrian and Ainsley playing with a toy from when I was a kid with Grandma. Ainsley loved shoving the gingerbread people in the cage.

Not a single piece of this candy is real. Bummer. Zoom in close to see the detail.

Adrian playing chess with Uncle James. They take their chess seriously.

Christmas #3
I was so excited Ainsley got this book. Evie and Adrian both LOVED it but we lost our copy. It looks like Ainsley is going to love it too!

Christmas Eve

Ainsley missed her nap so it was straight to bed for her.

Christmas #4
Ainsley looking at the kids to see what to do. It was cute to see her lift her entire stocking up and turn it around(she's gotten strong). She caught on quick but needed a little help pulling her gifts out, they were wedged in there.

Adrian, actually pretty happy to receive socks. That shows how badly he needed them.

Evie was SO happy to get things for her American Girl doll, Kit.

All Adrian asked Santa for was a Webkinz canary and Sorry (the board game.) He's easy to please. But don't worry, he got other stuff too.

The look on Adrian's face is priceless.

Ainsley opening her socks. She was pretty excited and crawled around the house with them until I put them on her.

Christmas #5
Christmas wouldn't be Christmas without the cousin's Nintendo DS.

She stacked all these blocks up by herself. They are great!

Granpa's couch was the perfect height to pull to a stand. Even after days of festivities and late nights, it was 11:00pm, she pulled herself up and down multiple times. I wish I had the space for a couch just like this one, she'd be walking in no time.

Pretty cool to see!

We had a great Christmas. The kids got great gifts. Ainsley received the talker, some sign language books, lots of Sigining Time DVD's (we're so excited), things to chew on, a bat and ball and some clothes for her doll which she is playing with more and more these days. It was amazing that she needed minimal assistance to unwrap her gifts. She was even able to sit at the table during dinner (even though she just plays with the food), no more highchairs for her. It was really fun to see her be able to truly participate in the festivities this year.

I saved my favorite picture for last. The best gift of all is that Ainsley is loved, very very much.

I hope everyone had a great Christmas!

Dec 22, 2009

Busy Holiday Season

I did it to myself. This year we tried something new and put a piece of paper with an activity in each box of this advent calendar. Steve and I are notorious procrastinators so this seemed like a good idea and provided some structure to the holiday season for us. It's a lot to do 24 activities even if you sneak some boring ones in there, like wrap presents and put out the Christmas lights. And of course, nothing goes 100% as planned. Like losing the paper snowflake templates....

.....Or like the night this was taken. We were supposed to go see Santa and got all ready to go but discovered at 8:15 that because it was earlier in the month than our normal last minute visit they closed at 8:00 instead of 10:00. I was annoyed to say the least so rather than waste all that energy getting ready, I broke out the tripod and got a family shot in front of the tree. Lemonade from lemons, right? Except that the kids didn't think it was fun and cried.

Here we are trimming the tree. Evie's wearing her Heidi costume. She always has some crazy dress-up outfit on. This was another Goodwill find.

I do love the look of the tree at night. I just wish it didn't take 3 days to put on all those ornaments. And I wish there was more time to sit around looking at it so it felt worthwhile. In reality I have to admit I'm a bit of a scrooge.

We didn't get as lucky as last year when our neighbor brought us a gingerbread house ready to decorate. We had to make it this year and it's still half decorated on the kitchen table. Even the kids are bored with it. Maybe we'll finish it next week.

Ainsley "got it" right away.....

... and tried her best to put some pieces on. She was able to pick up the candy with a pincer grasp. Just sticking it onto the Royal Icing was hard for her. Heck it's hard for us to get it to stick.

So we made it to see Santa the following week. Unfortunately I have a tendency to close my eyes in response to the flash so the kids don't look great in this shot but at least my eyes are open. Sheesh!

The kids got teddy bears from "Eggnog" the photographer. What a name.

The kids dropped their Santa letters in the mail box to be sent to the North Pole. A very cool thing, Macy's is donating $1 to Make-A-Wish for each letter received up to $1,000,000. We've had many friends receive a "Wish" and Ainsley may be a wish recipient some day. What a great thing for Macy's to do.

We always visit the trains in the Macy's window. The kids look forward to this every year.

We visited the Gingerbread Village made by local architects, at the Sheraton Hotel. (Thanks Jenny for that tip.) This year's theme was Christmas Films. Ainsley didn't get to come (she was at home with her nurse) but I thought you'd enjoy seeing some of the photos anyway. Remember if you click on the pictures you can see them full size. This one is the Muppets.

We loved the Snoopy house for its simplicity. But they were all fantastic.

How the Grinch Stole Christmas.

A close-up of A Christmas Story. Love the tongue stuck on the pole.

The full Christmas Story.

A Nightmare Before Christmas.

The Polar Express. Wow! I couldn't fit the whole thing in the picture with the crowd.

As always we put out the Christmas Village that I inherited from my Mom.

Making cookies. Ainsley knew what to do with the rolling pin. That was a surprise. She thought it was a blast!

She even seemed to smell the gingerbread cookies (I think her sense of smell is compromised by the trach).

The kids have had fun. But we're having a hard time keeping up with it all. Not every day was a sucess with the advent calendar but we did a lot more than we normally would have.

We also visited Madrona Beach to see the Christmas Ship carolers (I forgot my memory card in the computer.) We made Great-grandpa Herb's Swedish Almond Spritz cookies. We sang Christmas carols. Read our favorite Christmas books. Took a trip to Candycane Lane to see their lights (too many pictures to post). Made a gift for Daddy (Note to self: Big mistake!). We watched the Nutcracker ballet on DVD, Elf and the Polar Express. I'm sure I'm forgetting some things. We did more than we normally would because it was all planned ahead. I'm not sure I'll be doing this style of advent calendar again next year. I learned the chocolate ones are popular for a reason.

Now we start visiting family, all four sides within 3 days. So you won't hear from me until it's all over. I'm looking forward to the day after Christmas. I think it's my favorite day of the year. Gee I wonder why. I told you I'm a bit of a scrooge.


Dec 16, 2009


True to Ainsley's style, there have been no repeated feats of eating. We're back to 8/9 bites or less. But last night at dinner it seems she has decided she likes the taste of soy sauce. Of course I'll let her lick as much soy sauce as she likes without any concern over sodium intake. ANYTHING she is willing to eat or taste is a step in the right direction. And it's so great to see her enjoying it! Clearly she is tasting more. Soy sauce never got this kind of reaction before.

Dec 12, 2009

15 Happy Bites!

I backed off feeding therapy a long time ago. Just when Ainsley would do well and I pushed her a little she would regress. So now I don't ever push too hard. I just let her set the pace and praise her when she does eat. When she says she's done (with a head shake) I stop. Over the last week or so her eating has improved. Lately she stops at bite # 8 or 9. Sometimes sooner. (I think she fatigues and starts to micro-aspirate.) Today she ate 15 bites of her pureed food! It's so great to see HER approach the spoon and smile when she eats. Lately it looks to me as if the tonsils perhaps aren't as large as they once were even though it's still red. So I'll be curious if her ENT agrees when she goes in for surgery in February. (There have been no cancellations and now we are too close to her brow surgery in January.) I wonder if that could be a factor in the improvement. But she's also not sick so I think she has a bigger air leak so maybe she can just taste more. Who knows. I'm just happy for her and hope it continues.

Click on the picture below to see it larger. How cute is that?! She is so thrilled with herself!