Wednesday, January 28, 2015

This, that and the other...

Hello from our little corner of the world!  Life with the Leonard family is going well.

I am thankful and down right overjoyed that our guy will switching to day shift starting Monday Feb 2nd!!! Night shift is terribly rough on him and the whole family.  There will be a bit of an adjustment period since we aren't use to having him home in the evenings. The kids and I have our normal routine from homework to play time, to dinner time, bath time and quiet time before they go to bed.  The most insane time is the time in-between homework and dinner (around 4-6pm) because that is when I am trying to do dinner prep, cook dinner, feed kids, get kids bathed and into PJ's and clean up the kitchen.  Things usually start to calm down around 6-6:30 pm when I usually let them play quietly and/or watch some TV they enjoy.  It will require patience from us adults to readjust.   I am looking forward to having him more alert, not having him sleeping on his days off, having help with the kids during the crazy evening hours a few times a week, being free to volunteer in LeAnne's class once in a while since he can watch after Christian on his days off, and once of the things I am looking forward to most of all is being able to sleep peacefully at night knowing he is home safe.  I sleep so much better when he is home!!  LeAnne will miss sleeping with me at night.  I will miss not having to share the television at night. Ha ha! At the same time it will be nice to have some real adult conversation with my husband in the evenings.

Christian's evaluations for Early Intervention have gone well.  We meet with the Early Intervention Specialist on Friday to discuss the results of evaluations, and talk about where we go from here.  The early intervention coordinator from our school district was saying she would recommend her paraprofessional coming out once a week to work with him and thought at least once a month for Speech therapy.  I am looking forward to learning from the Speech Pathologist how I can help him on a daily basis.  He continues to do more things on the right track developmentally.  Just today he and I were playing in his room when he put his construction workers hat on my head, the first time I put it on his head he knocked it off since he doesn't care for hats much but then a few minutes later he put it on his own head. He has also started to try to comb his own hair with a brush and he is babbling not just humming.  He is adding consonants!  Whenever he does any of this I am quick to celebrate which makes him do it more and he gets so proud of himself.  He is getting over a little cold. Thank goodness his fever is gone and I hope his cough will be gone soon too.  I am feeling more and more like once we get his speech on track the rest of it will fall into place.

LeAnne is doing super!  She got her report card today and is doing excellent in school.  I am floored by how awesome she reads and her hand writing is beautiful. She wasn't feeling well on Monday.  I let her stay home and rest just in case she was coming down with what Christian has had.  I am not so sure she was really sick or just tierd and wanted to see what was happening at home while she was at school.  I think with the extra attention being paid for Christian for his evaluations and such she might be feeling a little left out.  Though I do try to make sure she has her time too.  Another good thing about John going back to days is that LeAnne and I can have a girls night every once in a while and Daddy can hang out with Christian.  LeAnne is talking about not wanting chickens now and a rabbit instead.  Daddy is hesitant to get a rabbit for fear she will change her mind and then we are stuck with a rabbit to take care of. Plus it is another expense.  I see where he is coming from but I would like her to have the experience of having a rabbit of her own and I think that if it doesn't work out that we could find the bunnies a new home pretty easily.  I do plan to have her do some research online first to learn about rabbits and how to take care of them.  There is more to having rabbits (they are happier in pairs) than I think I knew when I had a rabbit as a kid.  Our rabbits had a plain Jane rabbit hutch, we fed them and cleaned up after them and that was that.  Rabbits are pretty smart and I am learning lots already. So I think LeAnne and I will get busy learning then get prepared for a few rabbits to join our family this Spring.

I have done such a bad job of taking care of myself for so long that changing seems so overwhelming!! I want to be better but my I fail when it comes to my long term drive and determination to do the work and get it done.  I am a really bad example to my children, not happy with how I look or feel, I want to be better and it's constantly on my mind.  I know I need to eat better, step away from all technology, and exercise.  Then why don't I do it?   I know what I need to eat and what I shouldn't eat.  I do okay for a while then I fall into my old ways.  I want to exercise and need to get out walking. I know this. Why don't I do it?  It hurts! My feet hurt so bad sometimes! I know all the more reason to do it. No pain no gain right.  I know all of this but what will it take for me to get my rear in gear?  I am at risk right now for major health complications like Diabetes and heart disease.  You would think that would be enough. I have been researching things like Thrive and Shakeology thinking if I could get some good nutrition into my body it might help me feel better and if I feel better I will keep moving forward one day at a time.  I have the ability to change in my hands, I have what it takes to get rid of my risk factors for health issues and be a better role model for my kids.  How do I stay motivated?  How do I make new habits stick?  I know one thing I am going to try is buying fresh fruit and veggies then preparing it ahead of time for salads or cutting it up to be steamed.  I get into trouble when I get hungry I grab whatever is easiest/quickest which is never what is healthy.  If it's prepared ahead of time in containers then I could make better choices.  I've thought about putting an old picture of on fridge so I could be constantly reminded of where I want to be. I am a work in progress.  One thing is for certain though and that is I must start working no matter how hard it is or hurts.  All so much easier said than done.

Daddy did her hair today. 

He loves his cars so much

Put hat on all by himself






Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Encouraging signs

My husband & I have been seeing some encouraging signs with our son.  One of the things we've been concerned about is how Christian doesn't seem to bring us into his world through pointing, bringing things to us or imitation. Until last week he had not done any of those activities.

One evening I was in Christian's room playing with both kids.  We were building with blocks, throwing the ball, and reading books.  Christian started stacking his blocks as high as he could go without them falling over.  He would go like 6 high.  Then he looked at me in the eyes and started handing me blocks to play with him.  I nearly jumped out of my skin and cried at the same time.  I praised him big time.  Then a little later LeAnne and I were playing catch with one of his balls and I rolled it to him.  He picked up the ball and carried it over to me.  :-) Ahhhhh!! He did that many times!

Then another time he brought my husband his favorite truck book, actually took my husband's hand and put it on the book. WOW!  Then he imitated my husband sticking his tough in and out. He thought it was really funny and actually copied him.  He now brings me his favorite truck book on a regular basis and yesterday brought me a different book.  He is also clapping a lot more again.

Both my husband and I have hope that he is starting to develop int he right direction.  A part of me wants to stop all testing for Autism and just assume he is on the right track at his own pace but another part of me says no there are still other signs we are seeing and we need to follow this through.  Today I am meeting with the early intervention coordinator in our school district and the speech pathologist to do another evaluation.  It sounds like this will be more questions for me and observation of him.  Then on Friday the early intervention specialist will bring some toys and do another evaluation of him.

I took some time to look back at videos of my daughter today when she was Christian's age.  I can't wait to hear him babbling.  His first word is going to be like Christmas, my birthday, Mother's day and Easter all rolled into one!   A few of the videos that really touched me:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bygxtqn7LQc
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UbYw19ts3qs
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=z92xBIcu2RM

Christian gives the best hugs. It's awesome how he wraps his arms around you, squeezes and rubs his hand on your back.  His hugs melt me! Little man is waking up I am going to sign off for now.
Lovng his new truck

Getting some fresh air at the park


Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Next Step & other happenings

The Early Intervention Specialist came to our house today for the initial evaluation.  She explained the Birth to 3 program to us and went through a developmental survey with us.  It was one of the many surveys we had filled out online and then again at the pediatricians office. So we were familiar with the questions and based on the survey Christian does qualify for Birth to 3 early intervention services.  So the next step is to go through a more in-depth evaluation with the gal at the school district who coordinates the birth to 3 program.  She said we should be hearing from her this week to schedule.  On one hand I am thankful we are moving forward to get Christian the therapy he needs.  On the other hand I am sad, because I think I wanted to have someone along the way tell us he doesn't need services.  I know in my head were doing the right thing for Christian and that early intervention is the best thing for him.  Emotionally I am just not feeling very strong today.  I have people I should talk to about today but I am not feeling strong enough to put on the strong front I need to.  I am trying to stay in the moment, take everything one step at a time and not worry about the the future.  The most important thing is doing whatever is necessary for Christian. He was a champ during the visit today.  He was even smiling at the specialist and then when she left he was so excited to play with Gracie.  Gracie is so good with him just like she was with LeAnne.  I love watching him play.  

LeAnne bought hot lunch at school yesterday for the first time.  She was so excited and had a great lunch.  She was excited to buy lunch again today.  She has decided now that she wants to be a baker, not a scientist.  Looks like I had better find some recipes and get ready to do some baking with her. 

Time to sign off for now, fold some laundry and then do something to get out of my own head.  

Monday, January 12, 2015

Unexpected Journey

I have been wanting to write about this unexpected journey we are going through for a while now but until today I didn't know quite how to. I am the proud mama to three beautiful children.  My 21 year old step-daughter Amanda, 7 year old daughter LeAnne and 20 month old son Christian.  I met Amanda when she was 6 and love her as my own for sure.  LeAnne has always been our very busy, vocal, free spirited, strong willed and oh so fast to pick up on things. I've never been a mama to a boy and the differences between girls and boys are huge.  Our son is busy just like our daughter was but he is much more rough, into everything, a bull in a glass store comes to mind, and he a lot less vocal.  I mean he makes noise but its very different than it was with LeAnne.  We've been a little concerned since he was about a year old but brushed it off by thinking he's a boy, boys talk later, why does he need to talk when we all jump for everything he needs and he'll talk when he needs to.  As time passed though we got more concerned, had nagging feelings that something just wasn't right and were eagerly looking forward to talking to his pediatrician at his 18 month well check.  Autism had crossed both of our minds but we brushed it off because he does things most on the spectrum don't. The first thing we did at his 18 month well check was fill out an Autism specific developmental screening.  We grew a little more concerned. Our Pediatrician was encouraged by some things and concerned about other things.  So we left his office with a referral for a Early Intervention specialist for his speech and said if we still had concerned when he was 2 we would go further with diagnostic testing. On that day it seemed like we had a good plan but again the nagging feelings he was on the Autism Spectrum were present with both my husband and I.  We separately, unknowingly to the other did research.  It was Christmas Eve and then Christmas Day when it really hit us and I will never forget my husband saying "I really thinking he may be on the Autism Spectrum and we need to move forward with testing now and not wait until he's 2." I remember agreeing with him but also overwhelmed by sadness and guilt.  I don't want this for our son, and what did I do wrong were thoughts going through my head.  I couldn't be more thankful for the way my husband is handling this whole journey.  He's my rock!  He is our son, we love him no less, and it is our responsibility as his parents act rapidly with and get him any early intervention he may need.  The wait and see attitude is not acceptable.  It's been shown that kids who get early intervention do better in life.  It's possible at this early of an age to rewire the brain while developing to minimize the affect on his life.  So my husband schedule an appointment with our pediatrician and a week later I received a call from the early intervention specialist and have an evaluation scheduled for tomorrow.  We went online and filled out numerous questionnaires.  There are many things he has going for him but other deficits that are concerning.

We met with our pediatrician yesterday and couldn't be happier with how the appointment went.  Our pediatrician is very down to earth, informative, supportive and were on the same page.  The Autism Spectrum is such a huge range that someone could be so mildly affected that their behavior is just a little awkward to severely affected to the point that the person is non verbal and you are trying to find ways to connect with them.  At this point his pediatrician is encouraged that he has great eye contact, he seeks affection, he plays appropriately and purposefully with his toys.  He is concerned by his lack words ( zero words), and that he has no desire to bring us into his world by pointing to things he is interested in or wants.  We are concerned about the mono tone humming, and the way he fidgets with his ears as well.  One thing our pediatrician did say what all of these things could be his way of coping with his delayed speech and not Autism.  He agrees with us early intervention is very important.  He is looking into birth to three intervention in our county.  He was pleased to hear we have someone coming to our home to evaluate him.  He would like to get him involved with whatever early intervention he may need.  In the mean time he is going to get the paper work started to refer us for further Autism testing in Seattle.  He said we should be able to get in by Spring, we can always cancel the appointment if we think its not necessary but it's important to get things set in motion.  We left the appointment encouraged we were getting things rolling and are both looking forward to the early intervention evaluation.

While at the appointment our pediatrician also talked about various therapy options and services out there for Autism.  It's possible we may need to move to a bigger city where there will be more services available but we will cross that bridge if we need to later.  It was also interesting to find out there is only 1 woman who is certified to give ABA (Applied,Behavior Analysis) therapy in Walla Walla county.  This was particularly interesting to me from a career stand point.  I am thinking I want to get my BA in Special Education, look into an endorsement (minor) in Autism and certificate in ABA Therapy.  I see a need I would love to fill.

This is not a journey I expected to go on or want to go on but I am here now and as Christian's mama I am going to do my best to make sure he is the best he can be.  You know maybe he is just taking the second channel to learning like his mama.  Maybe all of this is related to his lack of speech and we will get him a little bit of therapy and all will be okay.  If he is on the Autism Spectrum then we will make sure he gets all the therapy he needs and do whatever we need to as his parents to help him be awesome!  All children are gifts from God and we are blessed!! 

On a side note I was encouraged when Christian started clapping again last night and it seemed like he was sharing the fun he was having with his ball last night.  Then this morning I noticed he went to find the cars that fit down one of his tracks (these cars are smaller than his other cars) and he was putting his Paw Patrol dog into the car it drives on the cartoon.  


Saturday, January 10, 2015

Too Young to be This Old

This is the oldest I have been yet!  At least I am not as old as I will be next year. I am not old. I woke up. I lifted my arms. I moved my knees, I turned my neck.... Everything made the same noise: CRRRRrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrraaaaaaaaaAAAAACCCCCCCK!! (Crack) ... I came to the conclusion:  I am not old, I am crispy!  My brother always tells me getting older is better than the alternative which is not getting older. Kinda like the quote do not regret growing older, it's a privilege denied to many.

It's really hard to believe that I am 39 today.  This is my last year in my 30's! Holy Crap how is that possible!?  Where as the time gone?  Turning 30 was rough for me because I wasn't where I wanted to be.  I had hoped to be done having my children by the time I was 30 and due to infertility I had not been able to conceive a child when I turned 30.  God had other plans.  I got pregnant with my daughter when I was 31 and she was born when I was 32.  I gave birth to my son when 37.  So yeah God had other plans.  Today as I turn 39 I am not upset about turning 40 as I was turning 30. I am at a great place in my life.  I have an amazing husband who loves me very much, beautiful children, a nice home in the country, my dream of being a stay at home mom has come true, my mental health has been fairly stable for a long while, (shhhh no comments from the peanut gallery), and I am more comfortable in my own skin.  Now on the flip side I am still battling my weight which leads to health concerns.  I KNOW what has to be done. I just can't seem to do it consistently.  Inside of me is this really hot mama who wants out but this dam stinking thinking keeps her locked up in this unhealthy body.  I wish I knew how to brain wash myself into doing what I need to do to let that hot mama out!

In 356 days I will celebrate my 40th birthday and I want to do something to push myself to live more so I am challenging myself to do 40 things I by the time I am 40.

1.        40 random acts of kindness
2.       Improve my shot grouping (better aim)
3.       Memorize 40 bible verses
4.       Make gifts & take them to Columbia County Police and VA Police to show appreciation
5.       Get the tattoo I have been designing
6.       Lose at least 40 pounds (it’s a start)
7.       Can Fruit cocktail for the kids
8.       Make out at the drive in movie
9.       Read 12 books
10.   Plan our 15th wedding anniversary trip
11.   Go to the ocean
12.   Read the bible in a year
13.   Try Lay’s Wavy Potato Chips Dipped in Chocolate
14.   Go to Leavenworth, WA for Christmas celebration
15.   Find a home church for our family
16.   Conquer my fear of birds by owning chickens
17.   Sing Karaoke
18.   Surprise my husband
19.   Send 40 paper cards or letters to people in my life
20.   Go to a concert with my awesome husband
21.   Go 24 hours without touching my any technology (cell phone, laptop, I-pad)
22.   Complete 40 scrapbook pages
23.   Learn something new
24.   Go out with the girls
25.   Make a scrapbook of Grandma Alice’s clippings I was given
26.   Try a new food
27.   Make pottery with LeAnne
28.   Have pictures taken with my kids
29.   Have dessert for dinner and dinner for dessert
30.   Go on an overnight trip with my brother & sister
31.   Play pool
32.   Host a backyard party
33.   Try a new alcoholic drink
34.   Roast Marshmallows
35.   Do something drastically different with my hair
36.   Spend a whole day relaxing in my PJ’s with my family
37.   Make a pie from scratch (never made my own pie crust)
38.   Organize my house better than it is today & keep it that way

39.   Write a bucket list with my husband of things we want to do together
40. Get more sleep on a consistent basis.

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

I am back... I think

It's been over a year since I have blogged about life with the Leonard's.  My husband says he has no idea what is going on with our family. LOL!! I have had so many intentions of blogging, getting on a schedule of blogging, and making sure to write down Christian's milestones. Epic fail there! What can I say but life happens! I blogged a ton when LeAnne was born because I wanted to keep our family and friends on the other side of our state involved in our life. We moved across the state when LeAnne was 4 months old and the blog was a great way to share pictures and happenings.  I wrote less often as time when by and then our little boy was born, I lost a little interest in writing, and got really busy keeping up with our two kids.  

I am going to attempt to write something at least once a week.  Blogging has helped me while writing journaling for the kids scrapbooks and days away from entering my the last year of my 30's my memory isn't getting any better. :-)

I have been a stay at home mom now for almost two years now.  I love being home with my kids! Christian and I are very close. He is definitely a mama's boy. I enjoy all of our cuddle time and being apart of all his milestones.  I love being here for LeAnne and enjoy all our special mom and daughter time while brother is napping.  Now that being said, being a stay at home mom can be very challenging, exhausting and wear on me at times.  It's a 24/7, 365 days a year gig. I feel guilty complaining at all.  This is something I have dreamed about doing since I can remember and I don't want to change a thing.  The best way to some it up is that it's the hardest yet most rewarding job EVER!  

LeAnne is doing amazing!  She is growing up way too quickly.  She's 7 years old and in the first grade.  She's a very smart young lady.  She is reading between a 2nd and 3rd grade level.  She loves math, science and is curious about EVERYTHING.  She played soccer Sept/Oct 2014 and enjoyed it.  She is taking after me in that she likes to write notes. I love her notes.  She loves playing with her brother and for some reason thinks it is really funny when he doesn't have any pants on. This Christmas I was so impressed with how thankful she was for everything.  She kept saying it was the best day ever!  

Christian is all boy!  He is very active, running and climbing on everything. He keeps up busy that is for sure.  He loves getting up on to the table, sitting in John's chair, and climbing into the stove below our stove.  He loves playing with cars of all types.  I am looking forward to Spring so he can play outside more.  He loves playing in the dirt and I know he will be all about climbing and going down the slide this year.  He give the absolute best hugs!  

John is doing well.  He is in the 3rd month of a 4 month night rotation at work.  Night rotations are have been tougher on all of us the last year.  His sleep schedule is just all our of whack, which wears on him and it can be rough on family life for sure.  We all look forward to February when he switched to days for 4 months.  That does mean he will be on nights this summer but that's his job and our crazy life.  I am very proud of my husband and support his career 100%!  Our world has become so insane. I worry about him every time he leaves for work and breathe a little easier when he walks through the door after his shift.  He is my hero!  

I am so looking forward to spending some time just with my husband next weekend.  We are going to Tri-cities for my birthday.  First stop is the range where I can try out the new laser sights John got me for Christmas, then a movie and dinner.  We are going to stay overnight, do a little shopping the next day and head home.  It will be some much needed time for us to just focus on us and enjoy each other.  Love our kids dearly but think its important for John and I to reconnect once in a while. I love my husband more and more all the time.  I appreciate his leadership, his encouragement, his love, and so much more.  

Alright little man is down for a nap and I am having a good hand day so I am going to attempt to address Christmas/New Years cards.  LOL!!  Here's to hoping I make it back to write soon! :-) 








Saturday, February 15, 2014

Christian's 8 month photos

At 8 months old Christian is now sitting up very well, and crawling around and into everything. He is loving all the lights and Christmas decorations. He starting to pull himself up onto everything and loves looking out the front window and the window in his room.(something his sister loved too) Daddy had to lower his crib to all the way down because he was pulling up.  He continues to try more baby food combinations.  I am having a blast making most of his foods from scratch. A few of his favorite foods are pears, beans and apple sauce. 






Grammy Sally made Christian this stocking



Yummy Blueberry and spinach 

Ha Look at me!