Oct 20, 2011

Ainsley, My Baby, Is 5!

What an eventful week. Sunday was Ainsley's 5th birthday party. About 30 of us, family and close friends, gathered at our house to celebrate. The past 5 years have been full of joy and tears. Ainsley is loved beyond all measure but it would be a lie to say these 5 years have been easy. They certainly haven't been easy on her. Sometimes if I think about the things she's been through it makes my heart ache and my eyes burn and sting. She SO deserved to have a big party. She is so easily pleased it is tempting not to make a fuss. But in our family we've been known to do some pretty fancy parties so we decided it was time that Ainsley had a special party and so a special party is what she got.  
Since it is October, my favorite month of the year, we had an owl and fall theme. I bought the owl graphics from AndersRuff, (click the link to drool over the most amazing parties you've ever seen) thinking that would save a lot of time, but in fact it fueled our creative demons. I about died when at 1am the night before I didn't have enough moss to finish the last side of my box (so I had to wash and dry more and bring out the hot glue the day of the party when I had plenty else to do), I was cursing my oldest daughter for suggesting we make an owl nest as a bowl for the party favors (now I have a whole new appreciation for the talent of birds), and if you'd seen the house an hour before the party you'd be pretty shocked it came together. But it did. Most importantly Ainsley had a blast. The other kids played Calico Critters with her, which is her favorite thing to do. She loved all the people and the fuss. She was even able to open the gifts herself and it was so wonderfully like any other kids' birthday.

There is no rest for the weary. The following day was her IEP. I'm glad to say it went really well. This IEP will last until 10/2012 which will be Ainsley's Kindergarten year. Her teacher had nothing but wonderful things to say about Ainsley: that she is very social, loves to participate in every way she can, and has a great attention span.  She's just the kind of kid they love to have in class. She is impressed with her abilities says Ainsley is one of the top kids in her class despite her limitations. She's higher functioning than many of the kids in the higher functioning preschool class (which we will be trying out to see how she does very soon). Of course we are so proud!

Then on the 18th, her real birthday, I took her to Farrel McWhirter Park to see the farm animals. It was the most beautiful October day you've ever seen. The light was gorgeous. In the sun it was warm so at first the animals were hiding but eventually they came out. We saw chicken, a turkey, a cow, ponies, a rooster, goats, sheep, a little pig and the biggest big you've ever seen! It's a very quiet, peaceful place. We had a picnic. Then we played in the leaves. There was a huge field and smack in the middle was the biggest maple tree you've ever seen and it had dropped its leaves everywhere. Ainsley still cannot stand but I was able to help walk her through the leaves and she got to feel them crunch underfoot for the first time. We were there just for her, with all the time in the world to linger. She bent over and picked up the leaves to inspect them, smell them and then throw them up in the air. She had so much fun! It was really wonderful! A day I won't forget. 
Then yesterday was Steve and my's 15 year wedding anniversary. We decided to go to the Matador. A restaurant and tequila bar in downtown Redmond. My sister Sheryl came over to watch all three kids. She has been doing trach training so she can provide respite (paid for by the state). She is the first person other than our nurses to care for Ainsley.  Steve and I can count the number of times we've been out without the kids in the last 5 years on one hand, usually to someones wedding. It's amazing when you consider the very high divorce rate for parents of kids with special needs that we've managed to stick together. So it was a real treat for us to go out. The restaurant has a great atmosphere and I could almost imagine we were on our honeymoon in Spain, 15 years ago. Just for fun I wore my wedding jewelry, a garnet and marcasite choker (I don't know how my poor baby can wear a trach tie around her neck I was so glad to get it off by the end of the night) and put in my contacts for the first time in several years.

It's funny but I think the only pictures I ever have of Steve and I are taken on our anniversary. 

Outside the Matador.

At our table. The food was delicious!!! Loved the giant mirrors and all the ironwork.

The bar and the three stain glass pieces were incredible!

We had a great time! We didn't have the Jose Cuervo 250th anniversary tequila. At $300 all I could say is WOW, I hope that was for a bottle but I think it's a shot. I got plenty of more affordable drinks.

And when we got home.....

...it was back to reality. Yes she was awake. She cracks me up!

It's been a fun, but tiring week. I'm hoping for a bit of a lull before Halloween. Of course we have soccer. LOL. Have a great weekend everyone!

Oct 11, 2011

The Countdown to 5!!!

Sorry for disappearing there for a bit. If you recall Ainsley was sick again in September. A trach culture showed she'd had the flu. So likely that's why I was sick for so long. And she also had strep pneumonia bacteria. So though she didn't actually have pneumonia, it could have gone there. After 2 weeks of antibiotics she's doing much better.

What else have we been up to?.....

Lots and lots and LOTS of SOCCER.

Ah, that smile! Ainsley seems pretty happy about it (soccer) for the most part, even being drug to a field 5 days a week she doesn't complain (unlike me). Some days I put her in her walker, and it's tough wheeling it through the grass so it's an extra good work out. I bought her a soccer ball as an early birthday present and she tries to kick it around. You should see the looks we get at the soccer field.

Remember the swing set project?

We discovered that for an extra $150 you can have the truck come and blow the chips in. Loading 12 cubic yards of wood chips would have been a HUGE job so we were thrilled to have them do it. Unfortunately at $750 that ate up our garage sale funds. Yikes! Hopefully this is a one time expense. So much for our intention to use the funds to finish the play house.

Isn't this cool? An hour or so later it was full and DONE. I like DONE.

After going in and out the side door (leaving it ajar) several times Ainsley was curious, so I brought her outside to see, even though she was sick. Thank goodness! Not realizing that the second lock was locked I shut the door and LOCKED US OUT. That was quite a close call and very lucky. Locking your trached child in the house by herself. THAT would have been scary! I guess I'd break the window. Luckily I had the phone outside and was able to call Steve and in 10 minutes he was home.  Hooray! Living in Redmond pays off.

When the kids got home they tried out the swings.  With the swing set rotated in it's new position Ainsley's tire swing now fits at the end. After a year and a bit she can finally use it.

 She loves it! I'm thrilled she can now swing with her brother and sister.

When I was a kid I LOVED to swing!  Nothing is as great as getting so high up that it feels like you will fall off. Evie takes after me.

Adrian can do it too now. Look how scared he is. Awesome!

Now kids can come over to our house to play without me worrying about them tracking in mud from the "wood chip swimming pool".


I've spent hours and hours in the yard weeding and pruning and barely made a dent. It's so depressing.


We made it to Salmon Days for curly fries, elephant ears and to watch the Salmon return to Issaquah Creek to spawn. It's a cyle of life that is amazing to see. Steve's been mixing sound there for the concerts for 27 years. (He was practically a kid.)

While we were there Ainsley met a kindred spirit. An adorable Daschund, Malibu, with a love of life. She isn't letting anything stop her! How cool is that?! Evie was fascinated that she also had a set of wheels to help her walk.

Ainsley loved meeting her. It was very sweet!

Little Missy is getting into stuff. And learning stuff. Boy oh boy is it a little scary. And impressive.

 Have I mentioned Ainsley likes to play with water? I allow it because it's good for her to stand as much as possible. Wow was I suprised to see that she managed to get out the doll bathtub from under the sink. And FILL it. Without spilling much water.......this time.

See how good this is for strengthening her ankles? Tip toes? No problem!

She does like to line things up. I wish I could talk to her and find out what she was thinking here.

She's helping hersef to bananas.

During a tube feeding she signed eat. So I told her to go get a cup and straw (we were using formula). She crawled to the kitchen, got all three pieces and proudly crawled with them back down the hallway. I was SO proud!

She has been trying her hand at using the remote control. Successfully I might add!

She's even been putting DVD's in by herself. Scary. Very scary.

Then there was the day she got herself up into the office chair by herself. No small feat considering it swivels. I think she was planning to use the computer!!!

She's been using her walker more and more and was even able to navigate herself from he driveway through the two parked cars to the door. Her legs are getting strong. Hopefully the balance will come.

Now for the biggest news of all....

On the 4th Ainsley was able to take a few steps for the first time with me holding her arm. It's still a new skill but it's progress and I'll take it! Afterward we walked down the hall and she used the wall for support and Evie snapped pictures (Steve was at work). I can almost imagine a day when I can walk with her hand in hand.

We are engrossed in party planning. Ainsley turns 5 next week on the 18th. We scaled back our plans and are not calling it a house warming or anniversary celebration (15 years on the 19th) in addition to her birthday like I'd said on the blog a few weeks ago because Steve is super busy due to his game deadline. We've invited family and the friends who care most about our beautiful amazing girl. It's been an extraordinary 5 years. Full of tears and joy! I'm a little emotional at the thought. Anyhow, the party is at 1:00 on Sunday. Anyone who wants to come give Ainsley their love is welcome. We just didn't have the energy to make it as big as it would have been. If you'd like to be added to the guest list just e-mail me at ainsleyblog@comcast.net . Thanks to all who've offered their support over these 5 years. We love you!