Saturday, December 21, 2013

Merry Christmas 2013

Dear Friends and Family,

Great Great Grandma’s Scottish shortbread is baking again tonight and the girls are watching The Grinch Who Stole Christmas (the original) after sledding all day.  It must be just about Christmas time!  We are excited to see our friends and family this busy December full of birthdays, gotcha day and Christmas.   

Claire is now seven, I know, wow!  She is doing very well.  Early in the year we transitioned to a different school, which has been a life changing decision.  Life changing in the best way possible: Claire is happy in school, learning, making friends, and when she comes home she is excited to be a part of family life too.  Having a consistently stable place for Claire has made her open up so much more.  We are so blessed by her new team.  Last year was so hard, just not a good fit, and we feel that our prayers have been answered.  God has always had Claire in his hands and is so faithful to make a way for us.  She is exited for this advent season; there is always something to look forward to.  We took the girls to see the Christmas lights in the green house at Manito Park (go if you are in the Spokane area, it’s beautiful!)  When Claire walked in she looked up and said “enchanted garden.”  She tiptoed as if she would find a fairy or elf around each corner.

 Team Claire @ Step Up For Down Syndrome 
September 2013
Makenna is nearly five and is such a joy.   As we unpacked the Christmas boxes of decorations after Thanksgiving she couldn’t help but squeal, “I love Christmas! I loves Christmas!...”  It’s so fun doing Christmas as the girls are getting older; Makenna made her very first gingerbread house with Mom and Grammy this year.  Makenna loves preschool, Kindermusik, drawing, painting, swimming, playing with friends but most of all she loves animals.  We got a very big puppy this year, Olive the Great Dane/Great Pyrenees and Makenna has loved helping Mommy train her.  She came with us to Puppy school and Olive will do all of her tricks for Makenna.  Currently she is saving up her quarters for a betta fish.  Makenna is also very excited to announce that she can now swim, for real. 

 Makenna's first day of preschool

Alice just turned three and, as always, is the sweetest little girl.  She loves everything mini mouse and Rapunzel.  I love her imagination and total faith that if you believe it will be.  Last night I was putting her to bed (all three girls are the most chatty at bedtime) and she told me, while stretching her arms out like wings “when I am big like Mommy I will have pierced ears and when I have wings like Tinkerbelle I will fly up in the sky, outside” as she looks behind herself to check for wings.  She brings a smile to our faces every day. 

Alice waited so long for this cake.  It's rough watching cakes leave every day. 
She knew just what she wanted. 

Nate is entering his fourth year as a Boom Operator (air refueling) with  the Washington Air National Guard.  He was in Guam this spring and Kyrgyzstan/Afghanistan in August and September.  Work is great but his favorite thing is just hanging out with his girls.  They love the tandem bike and going on dates; even doing chores is fun with Dad.  One of the highlights of the year was Claire taking Captain America Dad to her school Halloween party.  The kids were glued to him, they would come poke is stuffed muscles… it was hilarious.  We have been doing foster care after taking a brake for about two years but still no boys for Nate.  Never underestimate a man who is not ashamed to have a tea party with four little girls, dress up included.   

 Green Bluff apple picking

 Home coming October 2013

I have had a big, fun, busy year starting Leitz Delights, a little hobby business making cakes and treats from home.  I love having this creative outlet.  It’s the best job ever!  I started going to a bible study called BSF, it’s all over the world using the same curriculum.  It has been a huge blessing to be in the word with some totally wonderful ladies.  I am still volunteering for PAVE (a parent advocacy group in public schools) and Parent to Parent (a parent support group).  We have met so many amazing parents through these groups and we are so grateful for the opportunity to share our journey with them.

Welcoming home Nate 

Huckleberry Ice cream @ Spokane Interstate Fair 

Merry Christmas,
The Leitz Family

“He puzzled and puzzed tell his puzzler was sore.  Then the Grinch thought of something he hadn’t before.  Maybe Christmas he thought doesn’t come from a store.  Maybe Christmas, perhaps, means a little bit more.”         -The Grinch How Stole Christmas By Dr. Seuss 

Thursday, November 7, 2013

#2 Daddy Gone and Back Again

We have put a huge amount of thought into deployments over the years, especially for our little miss Claire.   She has been known to cry for hours over missing Daddy and has a hard time understanding time; 19 more days, no, surly if I cry harder he will come home now.  Just a year ago (when she was 6) she refused to talk to him on the phone or Skype.  So glad she grew out of that and loves to talk to Daddy on the iPad now, such a little Daddy's girl. 

I think the "count down" has been the one thing that has helped the most.  Nate and the girls made a paper chain before the last few deployments and the girls took turns ripping one off each evening at dinner.

My friend Krystal's hubby is active duty Air Force and on his last deployment they got this super cool "flat Daddy."  The minuet I saw it I was googling how we could get one.  The girls love it!  I did have to strategically place it in our house though.  If you put flat Daddy in a spot a person could stand, it WILL scare the crap out of you passing it at a glance.  It took a while for our dogs to adjust to flat daddy.  Olive kept growling at it and looking at me like, don't you see that mom?!

Makenna was so excited to bring flat Daddy to show and tell at preschool!  When I asked her what she told her class about it she exclaimed "This is my flat Daddy and it's my Daddy because he is in Afghanistan.  He is helping people and keep them safe and keeping us safe because there are bad guys with guns that shoot fire!" Oh dear, traumatized four year olds at the no gun christian school. Not sure where the guns of fire came from.

They take turns sitting by flat daddy at dinner.

We have a family tradition that when you are two and Daddy goes away you get a build-a-bear.  They have sound boxes inside with messages from Daddy.  This is a pic from my phone of Alice getting her Puppy, Cupcake.  Makenna and Claire bring theirs to "take baths" and get free ribbons.  It's something special we can do as a family that is very low key, just swing by the mall.  We have decided that the big  exciting trips before deployment are not worth the stress.  Nate and I are both trying to get everything together and emotional already.  Trips are almost always a ticking time bomb.  We try to keep life as normal as possible.

We taped Nate reading books and when he is gone I'll play them back on the TV.  It's also really fun to see how they have grown.  They love watching the one with baby Alice.  This year I went to the library books and found all Daddy books.  Our favorite was Hero Dad.

Once Nate sent the girls a prerecorded book, My Little Princess with his voice reading every page and their names at the end.  It's very sweet and definitely on its last leg being one of the great treasures around here.  The book is nice because they can get it out any time and hear his voice.  

Face time is great when it's available. 

Coming home from Kyrgyzstan this October Nate got stuck in the fog after a 13 hour flight and could't land, a very long wait.

"Where is my Daddy?" 

He landed with just a few minuets of fuel left before they would have to divert to another airport or base.

And more waiting...

This is the first thing we saw.


Makenna got to go up with the customs officer, very special. 

Coming home is actually harder then leaving for a lot of reasons.  It's a big adjustment for Nate taking off the soldier hat and getting back into exceedingly patient Daddy mode.  I have been doing everything on my own for months and it's hard to delegate responsibilities.  We are both pretty tired physically and emotionally over not really knowing when he is coming home.  I have to cancel life because he might come home and then he doesn't day after day.  Oh and day is night oversees so Nate can't sleep for more then a few hours for days.

Not to complain, this was THE BEST home coming we have ever had! It helps that the girls are getting older.  I had super helper friends that volunteered one a week to came and mowed and did miscellanious jobs around the house, I felt so cared for.  Also, Nate and I had lots of grace for each other this time around.  Often when he comes home I will be so desperate for help and space that it's all I can do not to drop the kids with him and run. I was better at taking care of myself while her was gone by going to the gym, making fun cakes and taking my enormous puppy to obedience school. When Nate got home I felt rested and was able to let him rest.  Everything he helped with was a blessing because I didn't expect it.

We have learned to take it easy when Nate gets home as well.  We see our family and have a big party with our friends to celebrate and thank them for their wonderful support, I could't do it without them!

So good to be together again.

Monday, November 4, 2013

#1 Saying I'm sorry, then how can I help?

Okay my peeps, I really don't want to miss out on the blog this year.  I'm going to give it my best effort.  How about 21 posts for Down Syndrome Awareness AKA Trisomy 21 (not consecutive days or during Down Syndrome month)?  We do the best we can, right. 

#1 Saying I'm sorry, then how can I help?

 Look how big these beautiful girls are, wow! Makenna 4, Alice 2, Claire 7

My favorite thing is when they play together!  It fills this Mama's heart like nothing else to hear "I'm squishing up my baby bumble bee..." belted out on the other end of the house. "...Oh, Claire ate it! Claire, we don't eat bugs, yuck! Bring home your baby bumble bee..."

Play, play, play, play, crash is usually how it goes.  Nothing quite like calming down three hysterical little girl. It kind of makes you want to laugh and cry at the same time.  Laugh because it's so ridiculous that was are in full blown hysterics over an imaginary bumble bee being eaten and cry, I don't know why, hormones maybe?  Groups of three or more crying girls are like a black hole of tears.  

Claire loves anything with music.  Her favorite TV show is PBS's Daniel Tiger.  It's an updated Mr. Roger's Neighborhood.  Every episode has a little song that teaches a lesson.  I LOVE THEM. Yes, love, we sing them all the time.  "Stop and listen to stay safe," magical I tell you, just magical.  Alice sings a mean "When you have to go potty stop and go right away! Flush and wash and be on your way." Makenna uses "thank you for everything you doooooo, thank you." "Saying I'm sorry, then how can I help?" has been so helpful for Claire on those ate Makenna's imaginary bumble bee kind of days.

Because I to need to learn preschool lessons I've been thinking of "saying I'm sorry, then how can I help" a lot lately. What a great habit to get into!  This should probably become mandatory in my apologies to my ever forgiving husband Nate.  I will admit there have been some less then genuine sorries over the years.  Nate is so good at apologizing.  I need a little more Daniel Tiger in my life.

And when you are feeling sad hanging out with Olive (our 70 lb. 6 month old puppy) in her cone of shame will always put life back into perspective.  It's not that bad, poor Olive.

P.S. Don't forget to this is about answering questions and spreading awareness so ask questions if you want to here about anything, 20 installments left.  Thank you for your support.  Every smily face is appreciated.