Friday, November 28, 2008

Happy Thanksgiving!

We had a fun day yesterday celebrating Thanksgiving with our families. We took our camera with us to the Gaston shindig but forgot about it until we were ready to leave. Once we mentioned "leaving" Emily was in no mood for a photoshoot.

After lunch and chatting for a bit we hit the road to pick up Ryan and took him along with us to Thanksgiving Part II.

Here's Papa H.

I mentioned to Papa that Emily adored him and that I wasn't quite sure if it was because of his charming personality or if it was because her favorite picture of him is of him holding a giant yellow cupcake. I was to learn later in the evening that he was working the system to earn Emily's admiration and Emily was eating it up... in the form of red, green, blue, and yellow M&Ms (as evidenced by the new colors on her outfit from last night)!

Emily had a blast and is one of Papa's best buds now.

Here are Ryan and Emily's cousins, Keegan and Rachel. Rachel is showing off her missing teeth which she kindly put under her pillow for the tooth fairy!

Emily has been enjoying an older picture of these two and when she first saw Keegan live and in person last night she was a little timid. Keegan was cool and gave Em her space until she had warmed up to him. She kept pointing at him and saying, "Biiiiig!". Well, of course he's big! She's been looking at a picture where he's only about 2 inches tall!

Emily was worried that she'd lost Keegan whenever he'd get up from the table. She'd let us know of her concern by shouting, "Uh-oh!" She loves her Keegan!

Emily decided to help herself to the bowl of chex mix that was harboring Papa's M&M's. She was equally excited by the multitude of raisins and dried cranberries that were mixed among the chex mix, cheezits, and other crunch stuff.

Rachel was just told that it was time to leave and as you can see, she wasn't at all impressed with the idea. Jeffrey, however, was happy to oblige and have a quick picture taken with his cousin, Emily!


Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Botox and a Surprise Update

Sorry, gang. No pictures today. I've been holding off on posting an update because I really wanted to include some fun pictures. I lost the memory stick to my good camera about a week ago. Fortunately, I had all the pictures already off of it, but it took me a while to replace it.

A few of you have asked for an update on how the botox injections are working. Let's just say my jaw dropped last Wednesday when Emily's physical therapist asked her to walk across the room with "feet down" and she complied. I was amazed that with just a little reminding she dropped down from tippy-toes and shuffled across the floor with her feet flat. Since then, we try to remind her several times a day to do this but we try not to be obnoxious about it either. We still need to help her stretch since the structure of her feet and ankles having been working to their full potential. So far, botox has been an answer to prayer and with some work she'll be able to walk and run with a normal gait. Thanks everyone for the continued prayers!

My mom offered to watch Emily on Saturday morning so we could spend some time getting our Christmas decorations up and get some work done around the house. Tom and I have been planning on rearranging furniture in our living room and moving Ryan's room into the upstairs office and putting the office back downstairs again. We spent a couple hours on rearranging things and then I put the new Christmas tree up (which we bought at Hobby Lobby for about $25 last year on clearance)! Before I knew it, it was time for me to run to Mom's and pick up Emily!

Emily had eaten lunch at Mom's and it was time for her nap when we got home. Under the guise of "hiding from Daddy" I threw a blanket over her head as I carried her into the house and into her room. She didn't get to peek at the surprise waiting for her in the living room as we walked through it. Grandma must have had a busy morning with Emily because she napped for nearly 2 1/2 hours! After she got up from her nap, I told her we had a surprise waiting for her in the living and asked if she wanted to see it. She happily said, "Yeah!" and walked out to take a look. Her response... "Whoooooaaaa!" Now when she sees a Christmas tree she throws her hands up in the air and shouts, "uh-rise!" (translation: surprise!) Yeah, this is going to be a fun Christmas.

That's about it for this entry. I promise to take my camera along with me to our Thanksgiving adventures with both of our families. The next update WILL have pictures. ;-)

Be Blessed and Happy Thanksgiving, Everybody!

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Thanks for the Botox Prayers!

Today was Botox day!

To be honest, Tom and I were a bit anxious about what all was going to go down and how Emily was going to react to it all. I think it was more nervousness about the unknown than anything else.

Tom had trouble getting away for the afternoon today so my mom accompanied us to Children's Hospital today. It's recommended that you show up a half hour prior to your appointment to get checked in but I think they just tell you that so you have time to find a parking space. We inched our way through all 5 or 6 levels of the parking garage and up to the rooftop parking. We turned around and inched our way all the way back down and ended up at the exit without a parking spot. Did I mentioned that Em doesn't like to inch anywhere in a car? She was a bit perturbed once she realized we had turned around and were going back the way we came. Fortunately, there was an attendant that let us out without having to pay. He falsely informed me there was no other parking aside from that garage so we went around the block and drove back into the garage again. This time, though, we were blessed to find a spot opened up near the elevators on the 2nd level. We still checked in for our appointment with 8 minutes to spare!

When Em's name was called we went back to our exam room and whipped out our crayons so we could color on the table paper. Then she glanced out the door and spotted the toys lining the counter at the nurse's station. She made quick friends with the play therapist, Annie, and I would venture a guess that she played with each and every toy that was in Annie's arsenal.

After a few minutes, Emily's new doctor (the botox specialist) and her entourage came in. This part was really cool (in my eyes at least... ) A young male doctor stuck his hand out, introduced himself and shook my hand. Next was a young lady that introduced herself as Dr. Kaitz's interpreter. I was a bit confused but shook her hand and said I was glad to meet her. Next was Dr. Kaitz. Her wheelchair did not define her but added to the great impression she made. She appeared to be a paraplegic that was possibly deaf but she spoke very clearly. The interpreter stood slightly behind me and signed a few things that I said. It was obvious from the get-go that this team was used to working together and had a fine-tuned rhythm to everything they did. Also joining us in the room was Patti, a nurse and Annie, the play therapist whose job was to distract Emily. Prior to us getting all situated, Dr. Kaitz asked if Emily like dogs and that maybe her dog could come in for a visit when we were done.

Emily layed on her tummy like she was getting ready for a photoshoot and watched as Annie blew bubbles. It was all well and good until the others moved in and started to hold her down. It didn't take more than a minute or two for them to rub some numbing cream on the back of her calves (not her thighs/hips like I originally thought) and to give the Botox injections. She turned on the tears and was more than a bit upset that she was being held down. I think being held down bothered her more than the shots themselves. This is a girl that enjoys her freedom!

After the shots, I gave her a big hug and helped her down from the table. As I turned around, I noticed a beautiful black lab had entered our room and was sitting in front of Dr. Kaitz. (Wow, she's quick!) She introduced Emily and I to Travis (her assist dog) and Emily hugged him and loved petting him. It wasn't long after that that Emily was giving everyone high-fives and blowing kisses!

We played for a few minutes in the toy room and said goodbye to everyone before we joined Grandma in the lobby.

In less than an hour after we landed our parking spot we were back on the road. Em was feeling fine so the 3 of us even ventured across town to hit the Once Upon a Child store to grab some new winter clothes for Miss Em. Here are some pictures of the Botox Hat & Boot Queen from tonight... she's very proud of her new hat and Land's End boots that we scored for $6! Proud enough to wear them with her PJs tonight while watching her favorite videos.

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

Em's Update

I haven't posted much lately as far as Em's developments or funny stories. Em will be 2 1/2 next week. She's still fairly quiet and doesn't have a whole lot of words under her belt but we're picking up speed. She's starting to combine words and signs to get her point across and we're getting very good at playing charades. She loves to "tell" stories about things that have happened and loves to make you laugh with a funny story. She'll tell the same story over and over again as long as she's getting a reaction from you.

What signs (sign language) does she know?
more • milk • eat • mommy • daddy • bath • drink • stinky • potty • big • flower • swing • table • ball • sleep • all done • cereal • baby • friend • play • red • blue • yellow • green • bird • dirty • orange • banana • car/truck • and I'm sure there's a lot more that I'm forgetting

What's she saying now? (In order of appearance)
Baa • Bow • BowWowWow • What is that? • What is this? • Wa-Wa (all gone) • Are you ready? • Cheese! • Josh • hi • bye • Whoa! • Wow! • Mom • Mommy • Dad • Daddy • RyRy • Papa • pst • Nana • Shell • Lalalalala (Laura) • Oww! • babies • uh-oh • no • Babby (Abby) • Babby (Debbie) • DooDoo (ChooChoo/Train) • Mommy/Momma (Amy) • bup bup bup weeee (up a ladder or steps, wee going down) • boom boom boom (going down each step) • beebeebee (school bus) • Deedee (Jesus) • away • ning-ning (ding-ding/referring to a bell or clock chimee) • nes (yes) • doedoe (donut)

Her new games (she's a big teaser):
• We frequently say the letters of the alphabet while we're driving somewhere. I say each one and sign it and she tries to repeat it and sign it back to me. We USED to be able to make it all the way through from A to Z and occasionally we still do. However, she's started a new game of following me and then a few letters in she seriously says/signs "WaWa (all done)." So I stop... she gives it a pregnant pause and then giggles and starts back at A all by herself.... then cuts me off if I join in again.

• Emily still loves to play under blankets. I was getting her clothes set out the other morning while she was playing in her crib and when I looked over she had her blankie draped totally over her body. I started playing along with her... "Where's Emily? Where could she be? Emily, are you in the living room?" I had to chuckle when I heard a muffled voice from under the blanket respond with a shaking head and "Noooo". I tried again with a few other answers and each was met with a "no" until I asked if Emily was hiding under her blanket. It got really quiet but the blankie was nodding yes in response.

• Tom loves teasing back with Emily. This involves another set of yes/no questions.
Tom: "Can I tickle your toes?"
Em: "Noooo."
Tom: "Can I mess up your hair?"
Em: "Noooo."
Tom: "Can I nibble on your ear?"
Em: "Noooo."
Tom: "Can I love you?"
Em: (Leans in for a big ole hug and/or kiss and now she's also starting to add "yessss".)

She likes:
• blowing bubbles • jumping in leaves • going up and down stairs • hopping on her knees on our bed • playing under blankets • trains and railroad tracks • lining her toys and food up in a row like train cars • watching Elmo, Barney (ugh!), SigningTime DVDs, and Baby Einstein • visiting with Nana's scarecrows each morning and night she's there • playing with the kids at the sitter's • re-enacting funny stories • building tall towers • building with blocks • helping with chores around the house • quiet time with books • playing with her dolls and stuffed animals • playing dress-up • looking at picture books, picture screensavers and videos of our family and friends on our laptops • playing and visiting at speech therapy and physical therapy • playing independently in her bedroom • ransacking her dresser drawers and then putting things back almost where they came from • babies (real ones) • Asian kids and people (probably remind her of her Kazakh heritage) • looking for the moon in the sky each morning and night • dancing with her daddy • loving and teasing our cat • wrestling with mommy and daddy • playing with the other kids at church • playing chase • playing with her cousins, Brooke and Logan and their parents • pointing out which direction we should turn when we go places (and she's usually right!) • and getting upset when we don't turn to go somewhere she thinks we should be going!

Speech and Physical Therapy Updates
We go to speech therapy and physical therapy (PT) once a week right now. She loves to go to both and gets a little worked up if she sees us going by the buildings without stopping in for a visit. The staff at both places are really sweet and Emily seems to have her own fan club at both places. As a toddler, it's hard to say how much of Em's speech developmet is due to therapy as much as it is just another phase in her life. Therapy sessions are currently a lot of play but Audrey, her therapist, is able to watch to make sure she's using the correct (and balanced) facial muscles and positions to form words as she's developing and learning words.

We've been blessed to receive early intervention funds recently through BCMH that are covering her therapies when our insurance runs out. That was a big problem for us last year because our insurance only covered 20 visits of each type of therapy per year. She ran out of PT coverage and then had a big growth spurt and got tight (tippy-toed) again and then we had to wait to pick up again after the new year started.

Emily is scheduled for her first Botox injections (talked about in my Aug. 26th blog entry) at Children's Hospital next week and I hear they might be increasing PT to twice a week after her shots. Em's doctor felt Emily would be a prime candidate for this type of treatment and I'm praying it's not painful for her and that it does the job. Since early this summer I've noticed her feet starting to turn in when she walks and she running with the telltale cerebral palsy "scissor gait".

We have been so blessed to be given the opportunity to love on this beautiful little girl! I thank God every day for putting her in our lives.

Tuesday, November 04, 2008


Happy 65th Birthday, Papa Gaston!

We met up with Aunt Shel, Aunt Laura, Nana and Papa at Ruby Tuesday's last Thursday to celebrate to Papa's 65th birthday. Woohoo! Fun times! I'm not sure what's going on in the picture below but apparently Emily is sharing the secret of life with us or something else as equally important.

Friday night brought Beggar's Night to our town and that's exactly what it seems at times. What's with those parents that wheel a 6-month-old kidlet up to your steps in a stroller? They can't even eat the candy much less hold the bucket their parents have propped up on their laps! My sister had a great idea last year and considered handing out teething biscuits to those kiddos. Bummer for their parents if they thought they were going to score all the goods! Oh, and you have to love the kids that come up with 2 buckets and say 1 is for "the baby" or for my sister's who's sick at home. Next year I'm asking for photo IDs, birth certificates and sick notes from their parents.

Thanks to cousin Rachel, Emily got to dress up as a ladybug this year. We tried the outfit on again earlier in the week and Emily was very proud of herself. She grinned from ear to ear and did a happy dance in front of the mirror in her room and when we went to the living room to show Daddy, she did another happy dance, admired her wings (while going in circles like a dog chasing it's tail) and wasn't at all happy when it was time to take her outfit off so we could eat supper. (Wings, booster seats and tacos just don't mix!)

This was Em's first official year of trick-or-treating. Last year she wore a pumpkin shirt and "helped" pass out candy. This year, she helped pass out candy to the kidlets and then when it slowed down a bit we took her to 3 of our neighbors houses to get in on the action.

Even before the other kids started walking the neighborhood Em was a bit wired. Mom and Dad had their camera out (thanks for the pictures!) but it was near impossible to get her to hold still. Breaking out the bubbles helped a bit but it too was short lived.

She seemed to have a really good evening and enjoyed seeing all the people. Her favorite outfits of the evening where Thomas the Train, doggies, kitties, princesses, and a homemade alligator. She was pretty concerned about the kids with messy face paints and basically told them they were messy. (Gotta love it!) She even did pretty well with the scary outfits until one of them decided to say "Trick or Treat!" with the help of a voice changer. It scared the bajeebies out of her! After that, she didn't want anything to do with the scary characters. She kept doing her sign for "scary" which looks a bit similar to "cold" (picture shivering but with a scared face).

Emily scored 2 big tootsie rolls, 2 suckers, a kit kat bar and a twizzler... more than enough for a 2-year-old that hasn't had that much candy (that I know of) in her entire life!

Saturday, November 01, 2008

Bears, Chili Dump, Leaf Piles

Not only has Emily been thrilled to be allowed to wear her hat and gloves in the house, but she was pretty pumped to be able to share them with her bears the other day as well. Here are a few pictures of her bears and a few minutes of her sharing her fruit loops with them the other day.

Oct. 19, 2008 - Chili Dump at G'ma and Papa Gaston's House. According to my sister's blog, here's what a "chili dump" is.
Here are the "official" instructions as best as I could tell:
1) Each person shall bring to the party a serving of chili. Supposedly, this is all homemade chili uniquely from each family's recipe.
2) Once at the party each invitee "dumps" their portion of chili into a large pot or roasting pan in this case.
3) Stir together, and everyone has a new chili soup to try. Although don't ask for the recipe ... it is very, very cumbersome.


The kids playing on Mom & Dad's swingset. Aunt
Connie was performing hat checks as each kid went
down the slide. Em's was a bit small and kept
popping off her head.

Emily's cousin Abby, Uncle Fred and Aunt Laura.

Cousin Matt and girlfriend, Stephanie

The Isler Clan

Nov. 1, 2008 - We had incredible weather today for the first day of November. We went out shortly before lunch and raked up a small pile of leaves to play in. She jumped in the leaves as I was piling them up and then was thrilled when I decided to plot down along with her. She had a blast covering me up and then helped me pick leaves out of my hair when we were done.

Here's Em demonstrating her sign for bath...
she was pretending to take a bath in the leaves!

And then she stood up and took a dive in them...

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