Friday, April 17, 2015

Happy Birthday Christian

Happy Birthday Christian Happy 2nd birthday to my sweet boy Christian!  It's so hard to believe you are already 2! It seems like just yesterday I was on my way to the hospital to have you! You are definitely 100% ALL boy! You're into and on top of everything, love playing outside getting dirty and playing with your cars.  You are a very determined little man! You said your first word "bye bye" a few weeks ago. You know bye bye means its time to go outside.  You love playing with your big sister LeAnne and she is so good with you!  I love watching you spend time with your Daddy. He loves you so much! You give the best hugs EVER!  I am so incredibly blessed that I get to spend everyday with you little man!  I thank God for blessing my life with you!  Happy Birthday!!

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Cautiously Optimistic

I am so overweight and out of shape it's scary!  I think daily about how I need to do something. My weight affects my health and how I live my life.  I am scared it's going to lead to an early death and I think daily how I don't want to be a burden to my husband or children later in life because I am so unhealthy.  I think daily about how traumatic it would be to my children if something happen to me. I hate being overweight! I already have high blood pressure, I am pre-diabetic and I struggle with depression/anxiety.  I want to be a healthy weight.  I want to be able to wear cute clothes.  I want to have more energy.  I want to be able to live easier.  I want to chase my kids and go hiking.  I want to be sexy!  I want to take self defense classes.  I want to compete in shoot competitions.  None of those things can happen if I don't lose weight and get in shape.  

I've struggled with my weight most of my life.  After I hit puberty the only time I didn't struggle with my weight was when I was working in Kentucky on a Thoroughbred breeding farm.  The only reason I didn't struggle then was I physically worked hard 8-12 hours a day 6 days of the week.  I began to struggle even more with my weight after I had my gallbladder removed in 2000.   Being overweight runs in my family.  I have PCOS (poly cystic ovarian syndrome) which makes it really hard to lose weight.  I've tried so many different diets, but none of them stick.  I always seem to go back to my old ways, what is easiest and my biggest obstacle is my own stinking thinking. I always get discouraged when I don't see results.  I don't know why I think the weight should come off quickly because it didn't go on overnight. I know what needs to be done.  I must eat healthier and exercise!

I am going to try new things.  First I am telling myself this will not happen overnight, next I am going to move my body, then I am going to buy & prepare healthy foods (vegetables, fruits, nuts, proteins), and I have started taking some new supplements called Thrive.  This supplement will give me vitamins and nutrients my body desperately needs, act as a appetite suppressant, give me energy, help me to burn fat, speed up my metabolism, help with my moods, and help relieve aches and pains. I have started walking in the morning after I drop LeAnne off at school and am drinking more water as well.  I am working on making better choices with what I eat and working on portion control.  

I say I am cautiously optimistic because I am afraid to be overly excited for fear of working myself into a high and then my stinking thinking gets the best of me again and I fail again.  I want to make these changes stick.  I want to develop new habits. I know it will not be easy at all and I will have to stick to my convictions. I know I have been thinking and eating like crap for a long time and it will be so easy to fall back into old ways.  I am going to have to fake it until I make it.  I am going to have to P.U.S.H (Persist Until Something Happens).  I am going to have to pray because I can't do this on my own but with God all things are possible.  I am going to have to change my thinking.  It's so easy to say all of this now but I must keep it up when it gets tough. I think for me its going to be important to keep walking, to take the time to cut up fruits and veggies for easy meal preparation, to cook meat ahead of time to be able to grab for healthy lunches, to cut way down on sugar, limit starches and keep drinking the water.  I am excited that I have walked a mile each day this week, drank more water, made better eating choices and I am feeling really good.  I can feel the Thrive working.  I am feeling a little sick once in a while (stomach ache and headache) but realize this is my body detoxing.  I have filled it with junk for a long time.  

I am so thankful to have the support of my amazing husband and family!  

Monday, February 23, 2015

I am back...Again (post surgery update)

I am back again! I took a brief break because I had Carpal Tunnel Release surgery on my right hand and tying was just not an option.  The first two week after surgery I found myself wondering daily why I had the surgery!  Am I insane?  I have a wild 22 month old son who is into and on top of everything 24/7.  Life without my dominate hand was rough!  I found alternate ways to do things so that I could get things done but by the end of the day I was in pain and exhausted.  I had my stitches out last Thursday and was very encouraged by the next day how much more I could do.  The surgery site is still sensitive, I still have numbness in the tip of two fingers, my wrist aches a bit and it will take time to regain strength.  My doctor said I should see a big difference in two months.  So the verdict is still out weather this was a good idea and I am certainly not in any hurry to have it done to my left hand.

All Early Intervention evaluations were completed with Christian, we met with all coordinators, developed a plan and he had his first session last week.  An early intervention para professional will be coming to our house once a week to work with him, the early intervention coordinator/Special Ed. Teacher will come with her once a month and the Speech Pathologist will come with her once a month as well.  Most of the goals have to do with his development of speech.  Hearing your child has developmental delays is hard to swallow. I immediately start to wonder why and blame myself.  I have heard from so many people that boys talk later than girls, people have told me about boys they know who have not talked until they were 4 but it still stings that my son isn't talking.  He will be 2 in two months and says no real words.  He is starting to make new noises and more open mouthed sounds like ma, ba, and la.  I have made a check list of  activities to do with him that will help him meet his goals and hopefully get him talking.  Now I need to develop a daily routine of working with him.  It makes me so upset with myself how impatient I can be in regards to seeing results.  I've been praying lately that God will help me to work with him consistently and trust in His plan for my boy.  The day I hear him say his first word is going to be like Christmas, my birthday and Easter all rolled into one!

Then there is our high spirited, hot headed, emotional drama queen, LeAnne.   She has always been fairly advanced intellectually for her age.  Always busy, always thinking and asking questions. The other day on our way to a birthday party she asked questions about so many different topics it was comical.  She has been into making cards for people she loves and there precious.  Almost all of them say "I love you sooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo much"!  Daddy and I are going to sit her down and have a little chat tonight about how she treats me.  She gets frustrated easily and lashes out at me.  This is not something new.  She has had melt downs like this since she was 2 or 3 but for a little bit now she has focused them towards me.  We have been talking about how she needs to respect me and its not okay to yell at me.  We have been talking about her breathing, and walking away for a bit.  She puts a lot of pressure on herself to be perfect and we have to constantly remind her that is not our expectation.  Oh the joys of parenting! :-)

Little man is up about an hour early from his name today, so much for some quiet time to write. I have started a new journey so stay tune to hear about that.

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:

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.