Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Time Flies...

This was our litte girl, two years ago today. And this is her now (helping to feed our dog):

Yes, I realize it's been way too long since I posted. It's not that there hasn't been anything "blog-worthy" happening, I just hadn't sat down & actually posted. I found the old pic while cleaning up some files on my computer & noticed the date on the 1st picture. Wow! Two years ago Ainsley seemed so fragile. It was about a month after her open-heart surgery so we had to be really careful with her: avoiding sick people, handling her gently so as to not push on her chest or ribs since they were still healing, and all of that good stuff. Now, she's like any other two year old. She's walking all over the place and getting into everything. Go Ainsley!! We're so proud of you, Beanie!!

Here's a partial list of what's happened since the last blog upate:
* Gavin's soccer season came & went (need to post pics...bad mom!)
* Ainsley started walking
* Gavin started Kindergarten
* Ainsley said a few words (at one time or another, and can't be bothered with repeat performances on them right now) : banana, thanks, nothin', thank you
* Skylar found her thumb, then rejected her Nuk. Full-time thumb-sucker now.
* Gavin is learning to read & does well with Dick & Jane books, and a few Dr. Seuss
* I went back to work after 12 weeks of maternity leave

I know I'm forgetting things, but that's what I get for not keeping up with this. The kiddos have kept us busy and we're loving it.

We have so much to be thankful for this year. The best part are our 3 beautiful, happy, healthy kiddos.

Have a Happy Thanksgiving!!

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

A week ago today...

A week ago today our family grew by 2 feet. Skylar Reese Baker joined the family at 4pm. She was 8 lbs., 1 oz, and 20.5" long. Skylar has dark brown hair, blue eyes, and long, delicate fingers. She looks a bit like Gavin, but really has a look that is all her own. She had enough hair for the nurses to put a little bow in it. Awwww....

Gavin & Ainsley have taken to their new roles really well. Gavin knew what the new baby gig was all about and is doing a good job of teaching Ainsley how to be gentle with a baby. Skylar is doing well and soaking up all of the love & attention from everyone. She's adjusting well to being home and is settling into a routine.

It's fun to have a new baby at home again. I'd forgotten just how small 8 lbs. is, how small their diapers are, how soft their skin is, how good it feels to fall asleep with them while relaxing on the sofa. It's only been two years since we were there with Ainsley...Sad to realize how much I had forgotten. Sweet to be able to savor it again, and hopefully do a better job of remembering.

Saturday, July 4, 2009

Bill of Rights

Happy 4th of July!! This is Adrian's first 4th as a citizen, so we went out with some friends last night to celebrate.

To celebrate our family on this holiday, I'm posting a "Bill of Rights for Parents of Kids with Special Needs" that I found on a blog called "To the Max."
* * * * *
We, the parents, in order to form a more perfect union, establish justice, insure tranquility (and sanity) and promote the general welfare of our families, do ordain and establish this Bill of Rights.

* We have the right to expect our kids to be seen for who they are as individuals, not as labels or diagnoses.

* We have a right to trust our instincts about our kids and realize that experts don't always know best.

* We have a right to ignore the remarks, questions and stares and not give explanations or excuses for why our children are the way they are.

* We have a right to choose alternative therapies for our kids.

* We have a right to roll our eyes straight out of our heads when we encounter certain mothers who brag nonstop that their kids are the smartest students/best athletes ever.

* We have a right to wonder "What if..." every so often.

* We have a right to play aimlessly with our children. Not for therapeutic or educational purposes--just for fun.

* We have a right to blast Bruce Springsteen/Tom Petty/Any Rocker, down a glass of Pinot Grigio, get a pedicure, go out with the girls or do all of the aforementioned at once if that's what it takes to avoid burnout.

* We have a right to react to people's ignorance in whatever way we feel necessary.

* We have a right to not always have our child be the poster child for his/her disability and some days be just a child.

* We have a right to go through the griving process and realize we may never quite be "over it."

* We have the right to give our kids chores. Even better if they can learn to make breakfast in bed for us.

* We have a right to stretch the truth when we fail to do the exercises the therapist asked us to do this week because we were too darn tired or overwhelmed.

* We have a right to have yet more Pinot Grigio.

* We have a right to fire any doctor or therapist who's negative, unsupportive or who generally says suck-y things.

* We have a right to tell family and friends that everything may not be OK--at least not how they mean it, anyway.

* We have a right to hope for an empty playground so we don't have to look into another child's eyes and answer the question, "What's wrong with him?"

* We have a right to bawl on the way back from the playground, the birthday party, the mall or anyplace where our children's challenges become glaringly obvious in the face of all the other kids doing their typical-development things.

* We have the right to give our children consequences for their behavior. They may be "special" but they can still be a royal pain in the ass.

* We have a right to take a break from Googling therapies, procedures, medicine and treatments for our kids to research upcoming concerts, exotic teas or anything not related to our children's disabilities.

* We have a right to talk about how great our kids are when people don't get it.

* We have the right to not always behave as inspirational icons who never complain or gripe about the sometimes awful realities of raising a child with special needs.

* We have a right to expect quality services for our children not just when they're infants, preschoolers and elementary school age, but when they're in older grades and adults, too.

* We have a right to adequate funding for those services and to not have to kick, scream or endure a wait for them.

* We have a right to get tired of people saying, as they give that smpathy stare, "I don't know how you do it."

* We have a right to wish that sometimes things could be easier.

* We have a right to cheer like crazy anytime our children amaze us--or weep like lunatics.

* We have a right to push, push and push some more to make sure our children are treated fairly by the world.

* * * * *

Thursday, July 2, 2009

2 weeks left!!

Only 14 more days 'til we get to meet our baby girl! The C-section is scheduled for July 17th, 7:30am. Adrian & I have a few more things to do to get ready for her arrival. Gavin is camping with Mimi Julie & Papa Ken this weekend, so we've got plenty of extra time to prep. Thanks, Mom & Dad!!!

Ainsley has been learning some new tricks lately. She's started to stand on her own--without pulling herself up on furniture or the closest available leg. She'll straighten her legs, put her toosh up in the air, then straighten to a stand. She applauds herself and gets irritated if you don't do the same. We make a big deal out of it everytime, especially Gavin. He's so proud of her and will occasionally knock her down while giving her a hug & kiss. Woohoo, Beanie!!

Ainsley is starting to communicate a lot more. It's her own "language" some of the time but it gets her point across. She clearly understands what we say to when we ask her to close a cabinet that she shouldn't be in. Usually she follows the instructions; other times she just turns & smiles. "Message received, Mom, but the stuff in here looks like more fun than my toys--thanks!"

The cooler weather this week has been a welcome break from the heat & humidity. Gavin has a T-ball game tonight and it will be a GREAT night to be outside. Finally! Now we just need it to stay this temperature for a bit longer. Makes the last weeks of the pregnancy so much more enjoyable. It hasn't been bad, and the end is soooo close. It will just be nice to be able to hold Gavin & Ainsley a bit closer. And of course to hold our baby!!

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Piano & Cello

Love. this. music. And I've totally got a soft spot for anything that can bring a piano & cello together with a couple of my favorite songs. Yeah, this song just works for me. Enjoy!

Friday, June 19, 2009

Catching up

Last week was a busy one with VBS, a day at the zoo with Gavin & a friend, Gavin's 5th birthday, and the Buddy Walk. I'm not sure where this week went but it has flown by, too.

I'll have to post pictures of the zoo later--they're on another camera. We took a friend of Gavin's with us and the boys had a blast together.

Gavin's party was Saturday. He helped me decorate his birthday cake that morning. He had requested an airport cake. What does that look like, Gavin? He told me that it needed airplanes and a road for them. Whew! No building construction project, just planes. Much easier to accomplish. Adrian had picked up some toy airplanes to decorate the cake and Gavin insisted that all of them go on the cake. Then he went & found one that he already had and put that one on, too. It was more than I had intended on putting on there, but what fun is it to have the birthday boy help if I can't let him put what he wants on there. I wanted to write "Happy Birthday Gavin!" but birthday boy vetoed that, too. Here's the finished product:

Not professional, but not CakeWrecks worthy either, I don't think.

Gavin got so many nice things for his birthday and the big hit were the golf clubs from Mimi Julie & Papa Ken. He had to go try them out in the yard immediately.

Aunt Silly & Uncle Mark hooked him up with some plastic practice balls (our cars & windows will be much better off this way--thank you!) and a glove that looks big and fits surprisingly well. Yes, Gavin's going to be a big guy.

The weather was perfect & we all relaxed outside on the porch. Ainsley played with Mrs. B while Gavin took a few swings with his new clubs. She's much happier when we get her out of her high chair and let her sit in a regular chair. She's doing well with turning over onto her tummy to get down from chairs & sofas, so Adrian & I are a lot more comfortable with letting her sit there like a big girl. It was a bit scary when she didn't understand or respect the power of gravity and the distance between a chair and the floor. Much better now!

Sunday was the Buddy Walk in Forest Park, St. Louis. Ainsley had quite a turnout for her team--thank you to everyone who was able to join us! This is our 2nd year at the Buddy Walk and plan on doing it every year. It's an easy one-mile walk through the park, followed by lunch. There are lots of things for the kids to do: crafts, games, and plenty of bounce-houses. Those are always Gavin's favorites, no matter the venue. A local radio station provides music and a lot of the kiddos end up dancing. It's so much fun!

This year we tailgated after lunch, just to give everyone a chance to hang out together a bit. Gavin relaxed with Chase in the back of the Yukon while everyone visited & ate goodies. He adores his cousin and can't wait 'til Chase is able to run & play in the back yard or park. Soon enough, Gavin!

The countdown to Baker Baby #3 is down to 27 days. Ainsley will be glad to get my lap back, I think. It's getting tougher to hold her in the rocking chair for bedtime stories. Gavin is still enjoying feeling Baby Jabba moving, especially after I read to him at night. She seems to wake up and respond to his voice, much to his delight. He's been a big helper for me when my energy is running low, but has told me that he wants me to be able to ride bikes & scooters or play soccer with him soon. It's on the top of my To-Do list as soon as I can do it, little man, I promise.

I'll post some more pics of our fun week a bit later....

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Summer schedule

Summer always seems to be a time to relax and slow the schedule down a bit. Does that really work for anyone else? Our schedule seems to keep us as busy as ever!
This week is Vacation Bible School at our church. Gavin is having a great time, though it makes for a long day for our little man. The craft on Monday night was a lion mask:

It's missing a few pieces now but he's still enjoying it. Ainsley laughs when Gavin roars at her and runs around acting like a lion.

Tuesday night was busy--haircuts, drive-thru dinner, and VBS. No complaints from Gavin, though. He got to go to Taco Bell as a treat and we had a "picnic" in the car before VBS.

He's sporting his new haircut. He got brave this time and got a mohawk. Walking in to VBS, he told me that he was excited 'cause he wated to show everyone how handsome he is. I tried to give him a hug and got warned not to mess up his hair, that it is easy to do because it feels as dry as grass. I don't know where he gets this stuff, but it made me laugh.

Ainsley got a haircut, too. Hers didn't look as good in the pics this morning because Gavin did her hair. It was cute the way he insisted on doing her hair and got frustrated when she kept turning her head. Welcome to my world, buddy!

Ainsley is trying to give her vitamin to Adrian. She likes to give it to him, then let him feed it to her. She's one persistant little bugger...keeps saying "Da! Da! Da!" until he talks to her. This morning, she showed him the vitamin, then popped it in her mouth & smiled at him as if to say, "See, Dad! This is my favorite and I'm not sharing with you today!" Yep, she makes mornings fun.

Adrian has been working hard remodeling the kiddos' bathrom. I'll post pics & the whole story later. 'Til then....

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Messes are fun!

The kiddos decided that it would be fun to empty the toybox. Fun for them, anyway. No one was too keen on helping me put the mess away. No worries...a few of them didn't find their way back into the box. As you can see from the mess, there's no way that those ones will be noticed. Gavin helped me relocate a few back to the playroom, then pick up a bunch of toys there. Ainsley amused herself by playing with Play-Doh and all the pieces. How is it that a little girl that isn't 2 can open a can of Play-Doh when Mommy struggles with a few of them? Good job, little girl!

Ainsley is starting to toddle around the house using the push-toy (just behind her head in the pics). She reminds me so much of Gavin. That was his first foray into walking. They figured out that they can get around faster than if they crawl. Bad news is that the wheels don't turn left or right; they only go straight. It didn't take either one of them long to figure out to stop, redirect, then start going again. Ainsley tends to talk as she walks. It's like a warning alarm that the Bean is on her way to wherever you are, so shut cabinets and relocate anything that might not be the best toy for her. She's so much fun!!

We should finally have Gavin's first T-ball game this Friday night. This should be the 4th game of the season but central IL has gotten a lot of rain. So we're praying for no more rain this week so the fields can dry & be ready for Friday. I'll post pics if the game actually happens....

Friday, May 22, 2009

Fun in St. Louis

Last weekend (yes, this post is long overdue...) we went to St. Louis for a picnic with the Down Syndrome Association of Greater St. Louis. It was a lot of fun--music, icees, popcorn, and bounce-houses. The weather turned cold during the morning and the wind wouldn't stop. That didn't seem to bother Gavin much. He really enjoyed bouncing around with other kiddos. Ainsley hung out in her stroller and tried to stay warm. She bounced along to the music, "dancing" in my arms when I held her.

This week was also Ainsley's first Cardinals game. We got to join the Pujols Family Foundation for a Cards - Cubs game on Tuesday. What a perfect night for a game! Gavin & Ainsley looked awesome in their little jerseys. Gavin insisted on wearing his Illini hat, convinced that "Chief will come dance on the field"....ummm, not tonight. Not here. But I'm glad that you will miss that as much as I do, buddy.
The foundation made arrangements to sit in one of the owner's boxes, so the seats were awesome! That was the 2nd time out of 3 trips to Busch Stadium that Gavin's gotten to sit in a box--he's going to think that everyone watches games from a box with dinner served in a posh air-conditioned room behind them. Bleachers are going to be a tough dose of reality! Cards won that night and also swept the series. Woohoo!!! A big Thank You to the foundation for the invitation and for making the evening so much fun. We had a great night!!
Today is 8 weeks from when Baker Baby #3 will join our family. We're so excited to meet her! Gavin wants to go buy her a special outfit to come home in. Maybe we'll do that this weekend. I'm making excuses to get the kiddos out of the house while Adrian is busy remodeling their bathroom. More on that later. Let's just say that I have a great hubby that totally goes the extra mile for his family. Love you, Adrian!!!
Enjoy the Memorial Day weekend!!

Monday, April 27, 2009

Mohawks, T-Ball, and Dog Treats

It warmed up enough this weekend so we could finally sleep with the windows open. That is one of the things that I look forward to the most. Some nights it gets cooler and I have to snuggle under the covers, but I love it even if it's a bit chilly when I step out of bed. Both Gavin & Ainsley get really hot when they sleep so I think that they enjoy it, too.

For about a week, Gavin wanted his hair spiked in the morning. This was a big change from the kiddo who never wanted anything done to his hair. Suddenly, he wants a line of spikes--right down the middle. A mohawk of sorts. Gavin got his hair cut last week and wanted a mohawk cut. I asked Helen to make it a kind of faux-hawk because I was afraid that he wouldn't want it after it was done. And sure enough, the next morning he didn't want it done. He just wanted it to lay flat. Whew...I think we would have had one unhappy camper if there had been a well-defined stripe of hair down the middle of his head.

We finally got to have a T-Ball practice on Friday night. The way it works in our league is that the kiddos have their coach pitch the ball to them 3 times before the batting tee is put out for them to hit off of. This gives them the opportunity to learn to hit a ball, and a backup if they are struggling a bit that night. Gavin connected with the ball the 2 times he was up to bat and loved it. Good job, Gavin!!

Ainsley is everywhere these days, exploring all corners of the house. She's figured out how to let our small dog out of her cage. The black lab usually gets left in her cage because Ainsley hasn't discovered that there are actually 2 latches that keep Abby's cage shut. It won't take long, though. Her other favorite is to open a cabinet in that room that holds the dog's treats. Adrian discovered her sitting on the floor with both dogs seated in front of her and a bag of their treats in her lap. She would reach into the bag, pull out a biscuit, and feed it to one of the dogs. We were surprised that Abby didn't just knock her over and run off with the whole bag of biscuits. Nope. There she sat, waiting patiently for Ainsley to get another treat out of the bag, then gently taking the treat from Ainsley's hand when it was offered. Lots of fun to watch, but not something that we want to allow everyday.

We've got a few baby appointments this week. I'm 28 weeks tomorrow...only 84 days 'til the due date. I can't believe how fast it's going by. Gavin loves to feel Baby Jabba moving around in there and tells me that he can hear her talking to him. So sweet!

Monday, April 13, 2009

Fun video!

I saw this video online & had to share it. Looks like a lot of fun--enjoy!
Remove Formatting from selection

Monday, March 30, 2009

Local news

I am an employee of Schutt Sports, and one of the issues that our management team is considering is consolidation of our facilities. We currently have 4 facilities: 3 in Litchfield, IL and one in Salem, IL. As a way to make the company run better, moving everything under one roof has become an option. Schutt is asking for help from the city of Litchfield to help fund an expansion of one of our current facilities.

One of the important steps in this process is the question on the ballot on April 7. A website has been developed to explain why the passage of this proposition would be so beneficial to Litchfield:

There have been several letters published in the local papers in support of the 1/2% increase in sales taxes. One of them is here. This is great!

So if you are a Litchfield resident and registered voter, vote YES on April 7. Thanks!

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Cure for Cabin Fever

We've been enjoying the warmer weather here in central IL lately. Gavin & Ainsley love being outside, and Adrian & I love how well they sleep after a busy day outside. (We're seriously blessed to have such good sleepers, even when they haven't been outside!)

Gavin has been starting to spend more time on his bicycle. I'm hoping that we can take the training wheels off sometime this summer.

Ainsley had fun visiting with the neighbor girls. She is crawling everywhere, so there are times that I have to take her out of the stroller and let her crawl and explore...even if that means that she's crawling on the sidewalk or driveway. Clothes were made to be washed, right? Maybe this will encourage her to start walking sooner since dragging bare knees on concrete won't be a fun way to spend the summer.

We had our IFSP (Individualized Family Service Plan) meeting this week. We get together with the therapists and the service coordinator to review Ainsley's progress and re-work our goals for the next 6 months. Ainsley is doing great--learning to do all kinds of new tasks! Our goals for her include things like making more progress towards walking. She can walk with the assistance of a push-toy that we added some weight to, but she will not seek it out to help her get from point A to point B. She still prefers to crawl. That will change as she learns to walk faster, then figures out that she can get around faster by walking than by crawling.

Gavin sat at the table with us and reviewed the paperwork as the therapists presented their information. When he'd had enough of that, he went to the kitchen and recruited Miss Dana to help him make chocolate chai for our visitors. Such a sweetheart!

Adrian has been working hard on the Citizens for Growth committee. Litchfield has a proposal on the April 7 ballot about increasing the sales tax rate by .5%. You can read all about it at: I think that this is something that Litchfield desperately needs. Now we just have to convince the majority of the voters.

Friday, March 6, 2009

March Sonogram

On Tuesday, Adrian & I took Gavin to the sonogram. He's been excited about the baby lately, so we thought it would be fun for him to "see" her. She was active & gave the technician a run for her money. Cris is great at her job and was able to get everthing she needed and some great pics for us.
Here's one where the baby is "waving" at Gavin. He thought that was really neat!
On Wednesday, Stephanie and Mark had their first baby--Chase Wayne joined the world at 4:10 pm. He was 8 lbs. 3 oz. and 21" long. He's got a full head of black hair and blue eyes. With Mark's brown eyes, we're waiting to see if the blue holds on. Gavin & Ainsley went to see him that evening. Gavin was impressed and Ainsley didn't quite know what to make of all of it. Won't she be in for a shock when we bring home our bundle of joy in July?
It's a beautiful day here, so we're going to get out & enjoy it while we can.

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Sad but true

Tonight Mimi Edna came over for dinner. Adrian and Gavin made beef stew and Yorkshire pudding. It was simple and so good on a cold night.

After dinner we played Memory. Gavin is awesome at this game! The instructions recommend that we only play with 36 of the 72 cards with a 4-year-old. Not necessary at the Baker house. We play with all the cards and Gavin beats the adults. And all of us are trying to beat him. When he knows where the match is and we get it wrong, he laughs like a crazyman before he picks up the matching pair for himself. Yes, I lose to a 4-y.o. And I couldn't be happier!

Friday, February 20, 2009

New 'do!

Adrian & the kiddos got their hair cut last night. Gavin went with his classic super-short cut. And Ainsley stole the show with her first "big girl" haircut. As Helen finished clipping the ends, my baby disappeared. Suddenly there was this little girl on my lap...isn't she cute?!
We got the final call on the testing for Baby #3 and everything looks good. We keep the name a secret until she's born, but it's decided. Adrian & I are still working on the "punishment" for telling. Probably a choice of movie rentals, or restaurant for a dinner out. Not a major infraction, so not a major punishment.
Gavin has been picking up some new phrases. My favorite is "what the word?!" I think he means "what in the world" but it's not quite there yet. He has the timing right...usually said when he's surprised. He left instructions for Miss Dana to tell him about everything that happened in Ainsley's therapy today. Lately he gets upset if he has school and misses therapy. So sweet the way he's watching out for Ainsley and wanting to be involved in what she's doing!

Friday, February 13, 2009

It's a Girl!!

I'll use this first post to announce our big news -- It's a Girl!! She is doing well and is scheduled to join our family around July 21st.

Gavin had been hoping for a little brother and didn't take the news well. Ainsley just watched as he got mad and cried about how unfair it was because he had told everyone that he wanted a boy. He's a great big brother to Ainsley, so I know that he'll be excited after he's had a chance to adjust.

Adrian and I are just grateful to hear and see that everything looks as it should. Lots of prayers have been answered!

Gavin helped me make Valentine's Day presents last night, so we'll spend part of our Saturday making deliveries. He's such a big help--even doing dishes to help with the cleanup. What a guy!