Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Merry Christmas



Dear Friends and Family,
All five of us are ready for Christmas and wish you a joyful time with your loved ones. We are looking forward to Claire's first Church Christmas pageant (she is a cow) and Grammy's Christmas cookies.

We have had another wonderfully, eventful year. Alice Noelle Leitz made her long awaited arrival five days ahead of schedule and the snow storm, ada girl. She was 9 pounds of perfection, 21.5 inches long and absolutely adorable. Her first week has been exciting, especially for the big sisters who are clamoring to snuggle her all day long. 


Makenna is so smart and such a little talker, wonder where that came from? She is constantly cracking us up. Yesterday I read them their favorite book Lama Lama. It said “cheesy puffs and oaty crunch what, would Lama like for lunch? Makenna jumps up and exclaims “Ma-kenna pee toast please!” (That is peanut butter toast) too cute. We always know what she is up to because of the constant dialog with herself, “Makenna shoes off,” “baby sit down, time out, stay!” “excuse me Deacon” she says to the dog trying to get through the hall pushing her prized baby stroller filled with dolls. 


I can't believe how different Claire is this year! She loves dressing up, reading books and drawing. She is doing so well in her integrated preschool class. I could have cried when her teacher said Claire would be able to come back next year. She has so many friends who love her. We are so grateful, she is always playing with a buddy.
Claire also did her first season of Special Olympics this winter. She had a blast cheering on her team mates as they bowled, played T-Ball and ran threw the obstacle course. 


The girls learn so much from each other. One of my favorite memories is when Claire taught Makenna sign language. Makenna was a so little, she could hardly sit up and Claire would sit and "read" her books by pointing at the picture, signing the word then signing it with Makenna's little hands. MELT MY HEART! These days Makenna is teaching Claire to talk and still signs to her big sister. I can't wait to see them teach their new little sister all about life as a little girl. 

 
Nate is enjoying being a boom operator (in air refueling for the Air Force) with over a year of flying under his belt now. These days I think his biggest hobby is snow removal. He has been all over the neighborhood with his two snow blowers rescuing everyone. Nate has also been working on the basement. We still have a long way to go but it is looking great.


I started this blog in honor of Claire for Down Syndrome awareness month clairejoyleitz.blogspot.com It was very fun to share and here from other parents around the country in similar situations. I am trying to keep it up now that October has come and gone so stay tuned for more stories for our family x5.

God Bless,
Nate, Tami, Claire, Makenna and Alice Leitz

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

IEP Day

We had Claire's IEP (individual educational plan) yesterday. For those of you who haven't shared this experience, it can be an excruciating, anxiety roller coaster.  Most parents I have talked to dread it like a root canal.   I'll still need to go again because two people didn't come but it was so good for the parts we got to talk about. (still a little nervous about physical therapy).  I think her teacher and speech therapist were on the same page as us across the board.  

I can't believe how different this year is.  Claire does so much better in the integrated class and for the most part they see the same little girl we do at home, AMAZING!  The other day her student teacher was concerned that Claire had been chewing on her hands.  It is a sure sign of stress for her.  I was amazed that this (two and a half months into the school year) was the first time they had seen that behavior.  In her old classroom we couldn't get her to take her hands out of her mouth.  I threw the teacher off guard when my response was "this is the first time!  That's great news!!"

I could have cried when her teacher said they were one of only two integrated public preschools in all of Spokane that can keep spots for special ed and Claire would be able to come back next year. All of her friends in the same kind of class who have Down Syndrome are getting kicked out of their preschools when they turn five in the summer. We are so blessed but it is also outrageous that this amazing program that has changed Claire's life and accelerated her development by just being around her peers isn't available to most of the children who need it.

I read this at 4 AM because I am in that miserable part of pregnancy where you can't sleep.  http://www.renewamerica.com/columns/abbott/101116 I was surprised to learn that "Abortion is illegal in Ireland, so the 90 percent abortion rate of babies with Down syndrome, which has virtually extinguished the population in Western society, is not operating. The Irish don't do a double take for children like Christina...

Imagine if, overnight, we stopped aborting babies with Down syndrome. Soon, preschools would have the typical number of children with the characteristic almond eyes my daughter has, and children wouldn't have to tug at their parents' sleeves when they see her and ask embarrassing questions. Programs customized to their learning style would flourish, as their growing numbers justified their creation. When adults with Down syndrome took their place in the world, their accomplishments wouldn't surprise us and make the news. Like the young man who just scored a 51-yard touchdown for his high school football team, which was featured on Fox News, or the young couple, Monica and David, a couple with Down syndrome whose marriage story was made into an award- winning documentary."

I didn't really think of DS as such a minority. I didn't realize that about Ireland, how amazing would that be!? We wouldn't have to go to play group once a month just to see another person with Down Syndrome. I often think that the best way I can "advocate" for Claire is to just have her out with other kids doing all the things four year old girls do. Oh, the looks she gets at McDonald in the play place.  Claire is such a little social butterfly. At school she is never alone and even the teachers and kids in the other classes say "hi Claire bear" as we go down the hall. Her teacher had to have a talk with someone the other day that her last name isn't bear.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

What I Learded on Veteran's Day

Our first Veteran's day weekend together after the wedding I went to church alone because Nate was diploid.  Our church had a time of remembrance honoring our military members.  They played patriotic music with a slide show of people in the church who were in the military.  The music would cut out from time to time and a recording of loved ones remembering their Dad, Mom, husband... would play.  I was completely caught off guard.  A small girl's voice played "Daddy, I love you.Why did you go?  I miss you."  I thought I was okay with it all but the thought of how this would affect my future children had never occurred to me. Seriously alarming onlookers I sat in the back pew and wept. 

"Because this is Nate's dream and I want to support him in that" wasn't going to cut it any more.  I needed a bigger reason.  I prayed, crying out to God for wisdom.  A picture came to me.  It was of an eagle.  Bold, powerful, even majestic it soared through my mind.  I felt that God was telling me that this is what he made Nate to be.  Just as the eagle shows God's awesome design in flight Nate glorifies God by defending those he loves.

There have been really hard times.  Some days it feels like everything falls apart just as he steps out the door for a trip, and honestly sometimes it does.  Claire gets sick and weepy, Makenna gets winy and I just want a brake.  We are going to make it.  No, more then that, we are going to be beautiful in the eyes of God.  I remind myself that this is more then a job, more then a choice.  This is a calling.

Thank you Nate!  Thank you to all of our service men and women and to your families.  You sacrifice so much we can never repay.  WE ARE THANKFUL! I AM THANKFUL!

This Is My Father's World 
 
1.      This is my Father's world, 
 and to my listening ears 
 all nature sings, and round me rings 
 the music of the spheres.  
 This is my Father's world:  
 I rest me in the thought 
 of rocks and trees, of skies and seas; 
 his hand the wonders wrought.

2. This is my Father's world, 
 the birds their carols raise, 
 the morning light, the lily white, 
 declare their maker's praise.  
 This is my Father's world:  
 he shines in all that's fair; 
 in the rustling grass I hear him pass; 
 he speaks to me everywhere.

3. This is my Father's world.  
 O let me ne'er forget 
 that though the wrong seems oft so strong, 
 God is the ruler yet.  
 This is my Father's world:  
 why should my heart be sad?  
 The Lord is King; let the heavens ring!  
 God reigns; let the earth be glad!

Monday, November 8, 2010

For Better Or For Worse

Angela is my talented, passionate and beautiful cousin.  This week I get to go over to Bellevue for her bridal shower.  Her wedding is my due date so I am regrettably missing the big day.  Her mum, my auntie Janet, asked me to say a few "words of wisdom" at the shower.  I am honored though I feel less then qualified. So I've been racking my brain for the wisdom entrusted to me through my marriage.

You can avoid so much unnecessary conflict by NOT say something every day you wanted to say.  Keeping my yapper shut is such a good thing for me to practice.  I'm not advocating not communicating important matters to your spouse.  They will just pile up and pretty soon you'll be a volcano poised to explode the moment he walks in late from work.  I'm talking about the little naggy things like "it's faster to take the second street exit" and "those genes really don't match your shirt."  Trust me, you'll be proud of yourself even if you would have gotten their ten minutes sooner taking your rout and arriving with a mismatched date. It's my own little victory and he doesn't even know it happened.

Another is simply to remember that Nate is a mirror of my spiritual life.  On those days when I feel like I just can't stand to be around him, most often I look back and see that I have not been spending time with the Lord and casting my cares to Him.  Rather, I expect Nate to fill my emotional needs and lets face it, he is just not Jesus.

We keep coming back to this whole "good willed" thing.  We remind each other all the time "I'm not evil willed."  To me, it means that when Nate hurts my feelings, it happens a lot more when I am pregnant and emotional these days, I remember, he is on my side.  He is not out to get me.  It sounds simple but seriously, it works.  It defuses my anger and stops me from getting to wound up.  If I see him as the enemy and myself as the helpless victim our arguments will go on forever.

Quite possibly  my favorite piece of advice is that you are a team!  God has a purpose and a plan for our marriage and family.  It is so much bigger then even I understand.  We are like Batman and Robin with our little power puff girls and "when our powers combine" something amazing happens, God can use us.  We are on a mission, Team Leitz!


Sunday, October 31, 2010

31 for 21 Recap



I did it!  Blogged every single day of October for Down Syndrome awareness.  It's kind of sad that it is over.  I guess I do need to save some material for next year but that won't stop me from blogging a little here and there.

First of all, thank you to my little Claire Bear.  I am honored to be your mommy.  You are such a special girl.  Thank you for introducing me to this whole new beautiful world.  I love you.  I look forward to watching your  life unfold.

Thank you to my wonderful husband, Nate.  You are a gift from God and I am so grateful for you. I am blessed to be a part of your family.  It is exciting to see what God has made of our little life.  I couldn't do all this without you.

I also want to say thank you to everyone who read the blog and to those who commented.  It was SO ENCOURAGING to get all the positive feed back from friends, family, acquaintances and even complete strangers across the country (and even one fan from Ireland).

So to wrap this up here are some pictures of the our Halloween-a-thon weekend.

Makenna choosing what to wear to Claire's school party Saturday night, princess Elmo?

Ventriloquist fairy?


Claire decided on Cinderella.  "You get two candies for two fish." Pure joy!

Fishing at the school party.

Mermaid Makenna tossing a ball into the clown.

Getting dressed up for Sunday school, Makenna cow girl.

Claire went with the ballerina for church.

Off to a friends for Halloween night fun fun fun.  Makenna saying "apple."  She is a teenage mutant ninja turtle, Donatello.

Rylan was Leonardo.

Asher, AKA Micheal Angelo.

Zeke was Raphael.

And don't forget Elmo!

Makenna was off to get some candy.

So tired!

Not sure what she is doing but it's cute!

Back home, tuckered out!

Makenna is limp!

Had to wash off the green face paint though.  TURTLE POWER!!

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Typical

We went to Special Olympics practice again today and then to the last farmer's market, super sad, and lunch in Coeur d'Alene with some friends.  Claire and Makenna were so cute playing duck, duck, goose, dancing  and running the obstetrical course.  They LOVED IT! Now everyone is taking a late nap, I just woke up.  It's been a good day.

It's funny, when the oldest has Down Syndrome everything they do is normal, to you.  Now we have Makenna and everything she does is weird. 

Claire has no concept of mine, yours, ours.  It can be good when it comes to playing with other children.  She really doesn't mind sharing when a toddler takes her toy, however other children don't feel the same when she wants to "share" their toys.  Like yesterday when we were playing at the mall and she started pushing a stroller, baby and all, away.  Or when she drank an Orange Julius that did not belong to her.I talked to her about it, for the millionth time, "not Claire's," she just looks at me like I'm nuts.

On the other hand we have Makenna who's favorite game is labeling.  She walks around the house "Daddy's shoes, Makenna's baby, Sissy's shirt, Mommy's phone, Deacon's water (the dog)..."

 I guess it just took me a little by surprise how different parenting them is.  Bribing Claire is futile!  She really could care less if she gets a gummy bear for going potty.  Makenna, man, a good bribes is golden.  We were having the typical toddler problem of taking the shoes off in the car, something Clarie never really did.  One day I told her "no more movie if you take your shoes off," (we have a DVD player in the van) problem solved.

In retrospect, bribing your children isn't the best parenting method anyway.

Friday, October 29, 2010

Pumpkin Day

It was pumpkin day and the girls were excited to go pick one out.  We went to the grocery store this year because at our trip to Green Bluff Claire was having a very bad day.  It didn't stop me from pumpkin doughnuts and carmeled apples but no picking pumpkins.  They didn't seem to mind we were not in a field although it does make for cutter pictures out on the farm.


 Makenna loves the pumpkins!

Harvest House Pumpkin doughnuts are so good!!

 Daddy helps Claire open up the pumpkin.

 Makenna puts together pumpkin head.  I loved this little guy because it gave the girls something they could do with the pumpkin other than just scooping seeds.  These were special oversize pieces but you could do it with the regular potato pieces from home.    Just poke the holes in advance and let them play.

 Taking out the seeds.  Yes, we toasted and ate them, yummy! 2 teaspoons melted butter, sprinkling of salt and bake 300 for 45 minuets.

 Cheese, my cute little family!

 Tami (Me AKA Mommy) carves the pumpkin.

 Nate "has to use a power tool."  Successful, however, a huge mess.  I guess messes are what pumpkin day is for.

Our happy pumpkin.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

I Need You!

Yesterday I ran into a gal from high school I haven't seen in a good ten years.  Through the conversation she eventually figured out that my oldest is adopted and has Down Syndrome.  Typically this happens, "WOW" she says and is ready to nominate me for saint hood or at least parent of the year.  If only she knew how embarrassed I was just hours before at another friends house.  Claire refused to behave herself.  I would go to take her from time out and ask "are you ready to listen to Mommy?" "NO" she replies... three consecutive time outs later and I just didn't ask her and yes, she went right back to doing the naughty thing that got her put in time out to begin with.  Ahhhhhhh!

We are so so so far from having this whole thing figured out.  We are ordinary people blessed with AWESOME SUPPORT.  It's all I can do some days just to keep some level of calm and that I sometimes fail at.

I take my friends for granted so often and don't give them the credit they deserve.  We couldn't do this without you!  A friend of mine asked me for a list of "close friends and family."  It was amazing how quickly it multiplies into over 30 people.  I sat back and looked at their names, your names. I am so blessed!  God has given us such wonderful people to love and support us.  But more than that you challenge me and  keep me accountable for my selfish ways.  I love you friends!!

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Tomato Street

We went to tomato street last night to celebrate my big accomplishment, blogging every day in October!  It was cheating a  little bit but I thought a Tuesday evening might be better then trying to go out to dinner on Halloween.

Makenna loves to draw like Mommy!

Claire can make a "C for Claire" 100% of the time, backwards.  We are working on counterclockwise.

Sisters

The beloved play-dough, she said "green!" 

The problem with play-dough when you are hungry.

 Clarie traces the monkey.

 Makenna chooses a color.

 Claire and Mommy's masterpiece.

 Makenna is excited, food has finally arrived.

 Blow, it's hot!

 Makenna loves the meatballs, Claire loves the noodles.

My plate after dinner.  I may have gone a little overboard on the tomato soup and bread.  I did get an awesome lunch today!