Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Family Update!

Now that Brent has graciously spilled the beans on our homely happenings, I'll fill in the commentary and small blanks (because I'm generally wordy like that - mkay?)

David's discharge from speech therapy went just about like any other medical or therapeutic discharge goes for our family: he was sort of...kind of discharged in a non-traditional and slightly questionable unofficial way. I requested his speech services be stopped for a few reasons: 1. we have been through 2 speech therapists in this system. Neither has shown up to scheduled sessions consistently (as in, the latest one showed up about 1/3 of the time...and I'm being generous - it was so bad that I didn't really plan around her anymore - just called from wherever we were (park) before leaving to make sure she was / wasn't going to make it...). I spoke to the head of the speech department once - but left several messages and tried alternate lines to no avail. Ultimately, David was suffering more than improving. When his therapist would show, he would burst into hysterics immediately and pitch fits - or just run around the house- and away from her - for the entire 30 minutes. He would kick at her, tackle her (she was elderly, with arthritis), and tear up pages she set before him. I would have to stay with David (per her request mostly) the whole time which upset Mary Louise - who answered all of the questions before David. She refused to tailor her techniques to David's interests and insisted on focusing on a "work book" type of presentation. But that was neither here nor there...because amid the chaos that was the occasional meeting, she would whisper to me, "I don't really know why I'm here. You seem to be doing a fine job with him. I seem to interrupt his day."

During her last showing, she made some such comment. I retorted, "well, if you don't see a point in being here, then don't come. It obviously isn't doing anything for David (who was running around in circles leaving a mess of flash cards and a torn text book in his wake) and some other child might benefit from your approach so I wouldn't want to needlessly take up your time." "Well, I'll speak to my supervisor," she responded.

I clarified: I'm not a speech therapist. I can tell you that I'm not concerned about the development of David's speech. Nor am I concerned with his mental abilities. Do you feel the same?

Her: I don't see a need for speech therapy for him and I'm not sure why he would have scored so poorly during his evaluations.

Me: Well, he was uncomfortable in the testing situation and with the conductors of the evaluation - and it was done over 4 hours which was way too long to ask him to sit an answer questions.

Her: that happens. I'll speak with my supervisor about suspending services.

Me: Will his IEP still be in effect and will we be able to continue services with his IT (teacher who focuses on global skill set)?

Her: His IEP will remain and I will talk to my supervisor and let you know.

David LOVES his IT and benefits greatly from her approach and activities. More importantly, she believes he needs her services and offers extra information to me to promote progress in all areas. She is of the opinion that David is doing exceptionally well at this time and is working from a prevention stand point.

****something to keep in mind through dealing with the school system is that qualifying for their services translates into ranking as "severely delayed". Appearing to test out of services in areas simply means you are "not delayed enough"- not that you are somehow excelling in the area of concern. In this case, David's skill set under some duress would appear "low average" range- which loosely correlates with the results of his exit testing for private therapy. Upon discharge, he ranked as mid average in most areas - slightly below mid average in one area (I'd have to look up the paperwork again to be more specific). ****

So last Wednesday, I phoned David's ST to clarify our schedule as I'd not heard from her since our conversation the week prior. She said she had suspended services per my request after a conversation with her supervisor. While not completely accurate, and a little informal not to mention down right odd that I didn't have to sign...or say anything to have this done, I said ok after clarifying that his IT services would remain in tact as long as I wanted them.

Today, his IT teacher came for her regular visit and was shocked to learn of the service change. She's concerned that she'll not be allowed to continue, but assured me she would do everything she can to prevent a discontinuation of her services for David.

So, that's where we are - so SO proud of our boy!! (but a little confused none the less).

I started back at the gym last week and bring the kids to the play room there during my hour of exercise. David gets a little concerned about me leaving at first, but settles down with the ladies there and seems to be branching out if there are other kids there as well. On my third day back, I walked in to get my 3 amigos and David bounced up to me and said, "Mommy! I play with dis boy and we shared!!" There was a boy about 2 years older than him who had graciously shared his little digital game with David - who will "join" if invited to do so, but would much rather play alone than get picked on or shoved aside...again, so proud.

Everett Baily...oh precious boy:

Those pearly whites are charging through making our "grin pot" a little less than thrilled. His digestion is a wreck, the drool is out of control and his little nose is runny. He's clingy, whiny and for the first time ever, pitches "no solution" fits about twice daily - you know, the ones that crop up out of no where and no matter how many boobs, ice cubes, bottles of brandy (kidding) you shove in his face he just. won't. stop. crying.

I know - not this kid:

and certainly not this one:

and no way, no how, would this little guy pitch a fit...ever:
(now that diva next to him...that's a very different story!)

We'll get through it - though our Ergo is definitely working overtime!

and you may have heard (see tear reference by proud papa below) that our Evie-doodle is CRAWLING!! holy moly!!

(Yes, I took all of these pictures this morning)

His get up and go is fully engaged and he is on the move! ok ok, he'd rather not be on the move - he's perfectly ok with being held, brought and placed where he wants to go...but he CAN crawl - I've seen him...when he's angry. I get the "I really don't appreciate this one bit" face, he gets up on all fours, gets to where he wants to go and collapses in a dramatic puddle on angst once there (nothing a little hooray and lovie time can't cure!)

And precious Mary Louise: singer, dancer, all around great big sister!

Sweet strawberry fire cracker this baby girl keeps me on my toes!

She and David recently received letters from Santa in the mail:

They LOVED their letters and read them over and over - changing the wording each time. They are both learning their full names, and address.

Mary Louise has started to put on "shows" and insists that a curtain in necessary for her to begin her performance of twirls and summer salts. She wants to "read" every scrap of paper that makes its way through our door - which isn't necessarily new...what IS new is that she recognizes that she **might** miss something in her interpretation of the words so she asks me to read it back to her.

She is also completely out of diapers!! I'm not sure if I mentioned that before...she's been night time potty trained for probably 2 weeks now if not a little longer.

That's it for now! Everett is currently launching his afternoon no solution fit so I must run! (thankfully, I've just found that he thinks videos of himself are down right hilarious!)


Monday, December 17, 2012

On the Move

Here at the LeBlanc House we have been busier than ever.

To begin with, our sweet David was discharged / graduated from the Calcasieu Parish School Board Speech Therapy.  We are very proud of our little man for such great accomplishments.

Mary Louise continues to be a Chatty Cathy   I have to ask her at times to play the quiet game to possibly get a few seconds of quiet.  She is exhausting when we are in the car going places.  This child has a great sense of direction and never seems to forget.  We can be somewhere that we haven't gone to for months, and she will tell you where you are going just by looking at landmarks.  She is very intuitive.

Our Sweet Pea Everett cut his first tooth on 12-12-12.  His new little pearly white has been driving him crazy for the past few weeks, and the next tooth is close behind.  Not to be out done on Sunday by his accomplishments on Saturday, he decided to crawl on Sunday.  He has been scooting around for a week or so, but he really got up on all fours and crawled.  I was holding him on the sofa while Heather was sitting on the floor trying to help the kiddo's eat their supper.  Everett was so mad that his mamma wasn't holding him, that when I put him on the floor, he just got up on hands and knees and made his way to his mamma.  We were so excited that our screams of joy and applause probably scared him into never doing it again.  I actually had to wipe away the tears in my eyes from my amazement and overwhelming pride.

My children's accomplishments and milestones, no matter how big or small, really tap into my emotions.    I can't help to think how close we were from not bringing any of them home, and how lucky I am to be their father.

They give me faith, hope and love.  Faith in God and that we can overcome and accomplish anything we set our minds too.  Our family motto is "I can do anything".  Hope in our community and world that this crazy time will come to and end and good will prevail.  Hope that people quit trying to be PC and bring God back into their lives.  I am not asking people to become religious fanatics, I am just asking them to quit pushing God aside to please others.  Love of my family- I cannot explain the feeling I get when we are all together just having a fun afternoon or lazy day in our jammies.

I would do anything for my wife and kids, and I try to provide them with all they ask for.  I am thankful that my job allows me to be home more spending time with my family.

Now, about Heather.  She looks TERRIFIC!  Not that she ever looked bad or was overweight or anything like that, she was not.  Heather continues to take care or her body, and is now wearing a Size 2.  Heather continues to improve our diet and has started back at the gym.  Between breast feeding, working out, and eating right, she has found the right combination.  Time for me to follow suit.

Saturday morning was complete with a morning stroll to the farmers market, and then out again for a walk through town.  The kids were great and enjoyed the new setup.  David rode in the double jogger with his bubba Everett,  and Mary Louise got the single jogger all to herself.  Funny thing was, I found out how to make Mary Louise and David quiet: just stop next to Santa Claus at the farmers market.  They just sat there and stared at him.  They wouldn't answer any of his questions, and whispered thank you when he gave them little stockings of candy.  Once on the move again, we got to hear that that wasn't the real Santa Claus, but that he works for Santa.  The kids enjoyed throwing sticks in the water at the lake front and watching the tide take them away.

Thank You for reading my outlook on our family time.  Happy Holidays to all of you and your families!


Monday, December 10, 2012

Back to Our Routine

Mary Louise performed for the school system on Friday morning. There were 2 performances with about 1700 school children viewing each one - wow. is all I can say. She did absolutely beautifully with it all. We were there for about 5 hours - in makeup - in and out of costume - a room full of 3 through 5 year olds. No one got hurt, there were few clashes at all in fact. The "big kids" helped with the younger kids and were very proud to be able to contribute their older sibling skills to the cause.

There were 2 mothers for each age on Friday - it was hard, but I feel very lucky to have been able to be there for our sweet girl. I don't say it near enough, but the fact that Brent and I are able to have me home is one of our greatest blessings. He makes so much possible by shouldering the finances of our household...and for him to come home from work, kiss us all and tell me, "thank you for taking care of our children today," is indescribable. We are always working to improve our routine and duties...but I think it's so important to point out that I am never working alone...digress...digress...back to the story...

Getting their costumes together - ML with her friend Allie:

getting a "yittle bit ner-bus Mommy":

on stage during rehearsals:

Playing with the "big girls" back stage:

She's a "joiner". Mary Louise had no problem at all moving in and out of the little circles of girls back stage and asking to play with them. She figured out, through this process, that she could ask others their names - and learned how to respond with hers. She proudly got to know the names and personalities of many of her classmates and confidently let me know if anyone was nervous or upset.

To think of just how far we've come...and now I'm gushing about this kid's dancing and social skills...sigh...there really aren't any words...

She was 10 days old here - I'm about to change her diaper (no, that's not gauze in my hands):

Just before going on stage - she wanted me to hold her hand:

On Saturday morning, she performed in the matinee show. Brent, David, Uncles Collin, Kyle and Sean and Mommon were able to make it. They came in late Friday night after work and school and left after lunch on Saturday - but I think they were glad they came despite the hard trip between work and school schedules (I know ML was so excited to have them watching "in da chairs". Sadly, Mere and Pops had planned a trip before I even knew about the Christmas ballet...but I'm sure Mary Louise will gladly offer an encore performance of twirls the next time we get to see them!

She looked a little nervous waiting in the wings just before her very last dance. She had to switch sides of the stage at the last minute and was a little disoriented with a new classmate in front, and behind her. But, when her music started to play, she painted on a sassy, slightly awkward stage smile and did her thing...and believe me, it was certainly all her!

She did really well with the routine during the beginning - then it was time for the twirls.

This sweet baby girl LOVES the twirl. She does turns at home around and around, gets dizzy, runs into doors and walls, reorients, twirls again. She asks to wear dresses everyday and gets upset if the skirt on the dress isn't ample enough to float out and up while she twirls. Twirling machine that one...

So, when it was time to twirl on stage for the last time, she started going and just didn't stop. She spun round and round and round again. She would get a little dizzy, stop for a second or 2, then get going once more. I was waiting back stage and had a side view of it all. I heard the giggling in the audience, but couldn't see all that was happening. Brent gave me the play by play later. She twirled until the end of the song then stopped. The 3 girls before her had gone off stage - I couldn't figure out why there was a break in the line and was trying to get "all angels" back to their dressing room and out of the way. Mary Louise apparently stopped spinning, grinned, took a bow, folded her hands in angel (prayer) fashion, and pranced away!

Brent got a text message from a friend who was also somewhere in the audience waiting to see his daughter: "Gee, let me guess. That one's yours?"  Brent proudly responded: "you know it!"

I probably don't have to say it, but I will for the "official record's" sake none the less. Everett was a gem through it all. He pretty much lived in my Ergo carrier this past week. He napped, he was quiet while the girls were on stage, he grinned, he nursed, he ate Puffs, and he played. He was (and is) a happy happy baby - but was so very ready for some tummy time when we got home!!

and the big Bubba lovies weren't so bad either:

Everyone was absolutely on best behavior throughout the week. After it was all said and done though, Mary Louise was quite over the make up application process:

Ha: typical moment for a family pic: "Mary Louise! get out of the flowers...No David! You are not to jump off a wall - you could hurt yourself!" (Everett was sleeping believe it or not)

And don't think we had to bring little miss back down to earth when we did get home - she got straight to it in her "kitchen" (playground):

"baking" mud pies:

From this:

To this:

In seconds. Literally.

That's my Meese.

Brent reported that David really enjoyed the whole ballet as well. He sat with Uncle Collin and watched everything for the whole (just over an) hour performance. It really was a sweet production - a southwest Louisiana themed Christmas: "Christmas in Louisiana".

Now we're resting up and calming down. I'm happy to say that we don't have any lessons today. The kids' music class session ended and another won't start up until after the holidays. We're just enjoying a little down time now before things pick up once more. Eye appointment time is coming around - always a major trip for us.

Until then, Cecil - our Elf on the Shelf - is working hard (perhaps overtime) reporting off to Santa about Mary Louise and David's behavior.

So far, they'll be very pleased (I think) on Christmas morning!


Wednesday, December 5, 2012

David's Angel

Mary Louise had another rehearsal last night. It was from 4 to 6 which is usually our "dinner / bath / story" time. Brent worked a little late and David was really needing some one on one ta ta time so he went to our neighbor's house for dinner. She's very nice - lives by herself and loves the kids to come for a visit every so often. Last night, David "helped" her bake a cake and they made cookies together.

When we all got home, it was a rush to get food in bellies and ready everyone for bedtime before major melt downs began. In the middle of the muddle, David sort of decided to sit on the potty...ok - it went a little like this:

Brent (changing a dirty diaper): C'mon man. You've gotta start at least TRYING to use the potty. Just try it - if you need to go, try to go to the potty. It's time David. You know you're going.

David: No stanks. My can't want to go to da potty.

They were both sort of right...David does know when he's going - at least when it comes to pooping. He even knows how to isolate his abdominal muscles when it's "time". He does, however, associate the actual toilet with unpleasantness related to a history of chronic gastric issues, medications, surgeries and discomfort. This is our hurdle - and right now, he "dus can't want" to let his history go.

Anyhow, after a bit of fussing, and walking around without a diaper. David came to me with a worried look and request: Mommy? My need a diaper pweese.

Me: no, I think we should go together and try to use to potty.

David protested. I won - and by that I mean I got to sit on the floor of the bathroom thinking of ways to praise the act of pooping as the designated defecation cheer leader. Awesome.

We sat for the better part of an hour. David was exhausted - but cooperating so I went with it. He got up 3 times, and 3 times came back for another "go".

There he was, eyes drooping, but still trying. He was doing everything he was supposed to - and I asked if he was ready to quit for the night - praising his efforts and saying we would take up where we left off tomorrow. Then, the strangest, most striking words came out of that child's mouth. He was still sitting on his (uhem) throne but just about ready to give into starting the rest of his bed time routine:

David: Mommy? My angel said I need to go to sleep now. (he'd just returned from a walk to the kitchen for another round of "Can he FINALLY use the dang toilet????")

Me: (slowly - I'm sure with shock on my face - oddest feeling) Well your angel might be right - but can you tell me where you saw your angel? (heart pounding)

David: In da window. He has all kinds of colors - yike my no-fake.

Me: really? colors?

David: yeah. Colors - yike da no-fake arm-a-ment from Mere.

(Mere gave the kids some pretty little snow flake ornaments that act as prisms. They loved hanging them on the tree - and love to look at the colors they throw when the light is just right.) I had called for Brent who was now in the door way.

Brent: What's going on?

Me: David said his angel told him to go to sleep now.

Brent: Sounds like my kind of angel.

Me: David can you tell Daddy about your angel?

David: (a little annoyed about repeating) he's colored like my NO-FAKE!

Brent: so it's a boy angel? What's his name?

David: Yeah - he's just yike me. He's angel Da-bid.

Even after Brent pointed out that (bear with me) David's name was in fact David, David still assured us that his angel was "just like him", had told him "to go to sleep now" and was named "Angel David".

I could force a fit in so many ways with this...but I need the story to just be written like it happened for now. If it never happens again, if Angel David is never again mentioned, we had our moment. I know, right then, we were a family - toilet and all. ha.

P.S. no - David is not any more interested in potty training today than he was yesterday - or any other time he's refused to take his "rightful spot". In fact, as it's been in the 80's here lately, if you see a bare bottomed little boy running around our yard and playing in the hose, never you mind. It simply means I dus can't want to clean another super stinky man poop off my kid and just need a break. ***sigh*** I haven't forgotten my NICU promise though - I'm still proud he can poop at all. Yes. Proud - so no mistaking my mild frustration for anything other than, "I know you - I know you can do this. Please know yourself and know that you can do this, David. You can (succeed) - but you have to make the decision to try."


Sunday, December 2, 2012

She's an Angel!

Mary Louise is an angel in this year's Lake Charles Civic Ballet Christmas production. She couldn't be more excited! (truth be known - nor could I) We started rehearsals Saturday - and as if written on her life's schedule, her runny nose and sneezing started today. Things are going well -and I'm maintaining hope that we'll manage through the rest of the rehearsals and this weekend's school and public performances. But the snots are a bit concerning to say the least...

Saturday was sweet Meese's first day in make-up. They are required to be "in full dress" for all rehearsals so I donned a little color on her eyes and cheeks, a little mascara on her ridiculously long lashes, and let baby girl peer in the mirror. The sass? oh my. Brent's reaction? uncomfortable, teary, fussy - he didn't take the "grown up" look (or the extra sass) well at all. David didn't help - he pined mercilessly for the attention begging for "dus a yittle yip stick pweeeeese!?". I gave him a chap stick tube to hold and he was pacified.

What was the fuss about???

good golly.

I adore her.

She loves performing. Today, during rehearsals, she danced between the rows of seats each time music played. She tried to imitate the older performers and twirled and twirled. I was enthralled with watching her - her smile - but most of all, her seething confidence. That child KNOWS she is stunning - and I never want her to loose that. Ever. May she always be lifted up by those around her - and should they waiver, may she find the strength within herself to not just persevere, but soar. May she always know her enormous worth and truly believe that she can do anything she chooses.

She's second from the right in line - she bows very militantly at the manger and takes her place. She's sideways the whole time because she's fixed on her teacher who was demonstrating her routine backstage. Sweet baby - I've had to watch this a ridiculous number of times in an effort to desensitize myself so as not to embarrass her with my proud tears in front of her friends. I'll admit, so far my efforts have failed - I couldn't help but tear as she took the stage today...ugh. such a sap.

If you can't see her really well, double click on the video and it should bring you directly to the you tube upload. It doesn't fit properly on the blog format and I'm not sure how to fix it...

My Facebook status quote of the week:

Went a different way home from ballet class. This upset Mary Louise who has a far better sense of direction than her dimwit Momma. We made it home nonetheless. Mary Louise: Mommy!! You found our home! You're a GENIUS!!! GENIUS Mommy!! My soo pwoud of you! Me: Thank you Mary Louise. That was very sweet. ML: You welcome Mommy. Anytime. (Really? Really. Awesome. My home life is a classic Freudian study. I gave birth to my mother)

and this one - it's from Nov. 16th - but I'm not sure I've mentioned it yet...

Brent: Mary Louise, if you don't stop whining, you will not get any more nice new clothes and pretty things. Ml: but Daddy! It's in my blood to want nice cwothes and pwetty things!!! (ok. It's worse than I thought...)


Saturday, December 1, 2012

St. Augustine Thanksgiving

I am thankful. So very thankful. Thankful for our immeasurable blessings, our perspectives, our experiences. I am thankful for them all. At my heart's very center is always my family. The definition and members have changed over the years. We have seen more stable days. We have been less broken, less hurt...we have been happy - so blindingly happy...and so crushingly hurt. But the bottom line has always been: we've been together; and I love that.

A few (like 5 - ok. exactly 5) years ago, St. Augustine was a vacation spot for our family. It's where my grandparents live. It's where my dad grew up. It has been the one week during each year that we simply "veg" on the beach after a ridiculously long drive. We put our toes in the sand, and let the waves wash away the stresses and cares...and we make memories. I love the smell of the water, the sound of the church bells, the drive onto Anastasia Island as we cross the Bridge of Lions and view the postcard scene including an ancient fort and countless yachts. I love the lighthouse peering up in black white and red splendor watching over the little town (that's not so little anymore).

Today, St. Augustine is saturated with my memories - and though I make new ones each time I travel there, it's the old ones that keep me coming back...

I visit my dad:

I introduce him to our babies and imagine him watching them grow...

I am thankful for the physical place to reflect and know, in some way, he's always there - waiting for us to appear...

My sweet and feisty Granny got to meet Everett for the first time:

He was quickly dubbed "my little Grin-Pot" and shined as a snuggly smell good heap of baby:

Mary Louise and David got to spend time with their cousins - including Connor (7) who became a fast favorite with our big kids (she let them play with her Barbies and Brandon - another cousin brought over some Legos - our kids thought they were just spoiled to no end!):

I took these photos of E and B - 2 of my greatest loves:

St. Aug, this past year, became a place to visit my grandfather...in a new way...

Mary Louise and David (respectfully) played in the memorial garden for almost an hour one morning. I pictured the "elders" smiling great warm smiles with the littles playing a giggling all round.

We explored downtown:

We danced in courtyards:

We picked up sticks:

We used Uncle Sean as a jungle gym:

(Everett was desperate to join)

My cousin Katie and her mom and grandmother came for a visit - more cousin time is always a win!

and Katie takes pictures - I mean really awesome pictures:

and sometimes our kids don't eat organic...or raw...

and that's ok - because they have the knowledge base to know that variety (even little treats) are honestly the spice of life. (ok - that's more a statement for me than you.)
St. Augustine has always been a place I've gone to vacation and visit family. I guess it doesn't really matter that some of the most important family I'm visiting is no longer visible. I know they're there. I'm thankful that I have that - and for the years they were physically in front of me. I appreciated them then - and adore them just as much now. The town itself has become my family. Our ashes grow the flowers...and that makes me smile.

We had a lovely time.

No visit across the deep south would be complete without a night at Mere and Pops. When the kids were starting to get antsy, we pushed it an extra hour or 2 to get the g-parents some much needed kiddo snuggles.

On the way there and back I got all crafty with my Jesse Tree Swap ornament: the angel:

Looking forward to a new tradition for our family - and teaching the littles the story of Christmas.

More to come - Mary Louise is gearing up for her stage debut!!