Wednesday, November 24, 2010


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. 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!