Sunday, March 31, 2013

Easter Happies

Mary Louise received her recital costume during her last ballet class. To say that she was proud...and in love with the pink, and the sparkles...understatement:

We are having a "LeBlanc kid" birthday party. That's right - all inclusive. It's just how we're doing things these days. I am not sending super formal (via snail mail) invites - but please know that anyone who loves our kiddos and is willing to show is more than welcome - we would love to have you come an celebrate our sweet littles with us! If you need the details, please email me - I promise a casually fun day, good food and some darn cute "no so little" babies running around!

We made it to church this morning for the 8:30 service. People, this is blog worthy on a normal day much less Easter. Thanks to our very old (but very functional) pocket doors, we were able to hide the Easter Bunny swag until we returned. We snapped a few family pics before the chaos got underway:

(but we didn't catch Everett before he spilled water down his front! - ha!)

Then we got on with the festivities!

Everett was rather sullen during the basket exploring and egg gathering...after a relatively exciting night and morning at church, I can't really blame him.

Mary Louise and David got super hero get ups in their baskets. Someone was so excited over his that he opted to "fly" to gather the eggs - you know - rather than just plain old walking...

They loved the egg hunt:

and the big surprise at the end:

a sand box with all the fixins'! - Brent finished this last night just before dark. Mary Louise and David spent 3 hours in it this afternoon and only threw sand once! It's filled with sand and pea gravel for drainage and also so that they can sort with sifters and shakers. The LOVE it! another wonderful addition to our super kid friendly abode!
We played inside for a bit after that - sorting eggs, etc.:

(love that little curl in back)

Brent and I spent the rest of the afternoon trimming plants, planting our little veggie sprouts that were ready for transfer, sanding and painting patio furniture and organizing our future projects indoors and out (though really - in an old house - or any house - are the projects ever really done??)

The big kids were happy in the sand box:

Everett was happy digging in plants:

It was a good day! Which is more than I can say for Pops - who I hear (via ML and D) did not get any Easter eggs - because he was bad and made Mere mad...but Pops, they promise to share their eggs with you next time they see you!

Happy Easter to all -

Tuesday, March 26, 2013


We've all been sick again. It started with a massive oak bloom about a week ago: the slight runny noses, the tired, red eyes...Mary Louise and David seemed to hold steady for a number of days with breathing treatments and antihistamines.

Then on Saturday, Mary Louise got notably worse. On Sunday, she started with a fever - 102.4 - and we went to Urgent Care because her regular pedi (who has emergency hours on Sundays) was completely booked. She was diagnosed with acute bronchitis and possible pneumonia (after a chest xray) and her oxygen saturation was hovering around 94%. They gave an antibiotic shot and sent us home.

Monday morning around 1am, Mary Louise had a horrible coughing fit. She couldn't catch her breath and had obvious retractions. Brent took her to the ER. Her O2 sats were around 95% and they wouldn't admit until they dropped back to a 94%. So, they prescribed antibiotics and sent them home.

We went to the pedi's office about 10. Mary Louise had "horrible" breath sounds, rattles, wheezes and considerable chest congestion. She was prescribed oral steroids, continued breathing treatments- with a 3rd medication scheduled, started on oral antibiotics, continued OTC meds for chest congestion and fevers.

We are doing much better today after a night of decent rest. I'm expecting some serious mood swings shortly - from Mary Louise - ha - since she's on more steroids than ever.

David is doing well - he did have a few little crackles in his upper chest but is improving with regular nebulizer treatments. Everett has a nasty cough - but his congestion is in his sinuses only- I was told to nurse as much as possible (it's a wonderful thing, right?). No ear infections for anyone.

Diagnosis: viral cold / pneumonia


So, a question asked of us pretty regularly is: "is this normal?" (in so many words - there are a thousand ways to ask)


Yes. Sort of...everything is just a hair more critical with them.

Our kids get sick very easily. It takes them a little longer to get over things - and they need more support with breathing treatments, etc. But, generally, their illnesses follow the trends for our area - the majority here are suffering with serious sinus issues right now.

Mary Louise, however, seems to have gotten a lion's share of our (mine and Brent's) crappy genetics - Brent suffered with childhood asthma as did many of his immediate family. It (asthma / allergies) runs heavily on my dad's side of the family as well.

The pediatric intensivist we've seen in the past hinted that this might be the case when Mary Louise was in the hospital with her first bout of acute pneumonia at age 2.5 - but said to wait and see as he rather hoped his feeling was wrong.

So, though we can't negate the fact that Mary Louise and David were intubated for an extended period of time, and had a very rough start in life, we also can't ignore the possible genetic factors in play (not that it matters too terribly much - respiratory illness is respiratory illness no?).

With this week's illness in progress and medicine changes #9001-9009 in play, I have been a bit more forceful with requesting a pulmonologist referral (that's right. we still haven't received one). We have an appointment on Thursday to discuss formal paperwork for said referral in a face to face fashion - that usually shoves things right along. Hopefully, once we have a specialist on board for Mary Louise, her care can be more streamlined and, over time, we can prevent this "one foot in the hospital door" severity of illness from happening. So far, every time we feel we get to that point with her meds, she quickly proves us very wrong. Right now, I just think we can do a bit better for her - we just have to figure out how.

In speaking to other comparable micro preemie parents with children a few years older than Mary Louise and David, their children had a notable decrease in severity of illness between ages 7 and 9 there's that.

At the very least, we have identified some environmental factors contributing to their illnesses - pollen is one - there is little we can do to keep them away from it - but we can be aware; smoke is another - and we can certainly be proactive with that one.


I've also gotten a bit (more) demanding with the school board lately. David hasn't received speech services since Dec. 12th. Stories and reasons have changed over time, but ultimately, the issues we've had were to be addressed during an "in home" meeting a couple of weeks ago. The speech department opted not to show up, however, so I (officially) refused to sign the IEP update until his service inconsistencies were rectified and handed those who attended the meeting a typed list of characteristics and practices we feel would be best matched with David.

I received a call from the head of the speech department the following Tuesday morning with the name of a new therapist and renewed hope that our rocky road with this system would soon smooth.

We were supposed to meet David's new ST yesterday. Sadly, with the level of illness in the house, we've had to postpone.

On the upside, David's fabulous IT gave nothing but positive reviews on David's progress. She feels he is on target with his peers as far as developmental abilities and our goal now is to make sure his progress remains steady without any regression. Our big summer break will be followed by early testing and evaluations next year. The results of those tests and evaluations will determine whether or not an official discharge from the program is appropriate!!

woop woop!

I feel gripey and confrontational these days. But, my wee ones are taken care of and know how (much) they are loved. Sometimes gripey and confrontational is what it takes to get the job of the day done - but I have to admit, I'm very much looking forward to some happy, sunny, summer days!


Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Mommy and Meese at the Ballet!

Mary Louise and I had a little "Mommy and Meese" date on Sunday afternoon. We went to our local civic center to see the Assemble. It involved local college music and theater professors and students as well as the civic ballet here. It was beautiful and Mary Louise was just fascinated!

It involved live music and various genres of dance - but mostly classical ballet. Mary Louise couldn't wait to imitate what she saw: (as in, she started at intermission)

We then moved to the back of the audience where there was a row with extra space to accommodate wheel chairs. She danced quietly through the entire second half - pausing to take note of new styles to put into her "act". She danced her way out of the auditorium doors where people were flooding the lobby. The performers were having a "meet and greet" there. Mary Louise marched right up to one wearing her (second) favorite costume: a stunning red tutu bedazzled to the max with crystals, and a feather head piece. Mary Louise looked like she wanted to say something - but just stood and stared. She was completely in awe. The girl graciously bent down and allowed Mary Louise to touch every part of her get up - including her hair, her toe shoes (Mary Louise knocked on them to hear the wood), and of course the tutu. Other performers crowded around and allowed Mary Louise to explore the textures, shapes and asks questions about everything. She warmed up just enough to whisper to one of them, "thank you. You yook beautiful and dance pretty."

On the way home:
ML: Mom?
Me: Yes Meesey?
ML: Thank you Mommy. Thank you for my Mommy and Meesey time.
Me: You're very welcome sweet baby. I love you and enjoyed our time.
ML: I wuv you too Mommy.

(tear. Mommy. ugh! that child. I adore her)...

But no LeBlanc experience is complete without a little left of center happenstance. Mary Louise's FAVORITE costume, dancer - the whole she-bang - came out relatively early in the show. There was and out take from Swan Lake. First, the girls in white costumes did a dance - 4, holding hands, tutu's, crystals, feathers - beautiful. Then, a girl wearing a black tutu and head piece, bright red lip stick and lots of sparkles came out for a solo. The only time Mary Louise spoke above a whisper the entire time we were there was when this girl game out:

"I want to be her Mommy! I want to do that!!! I want to be da black girl!!!"

Awesome...I have told them they can do anything. Everyone around us snickered. I instinctively tried to stop her at first, then said, "yes sweet pea - you can be the black girl. Keep practicing and you'll be able to dance just like that and wear a beautiful costume." She beamed. I'm still laughing...

and today, you know that child asked me again if she could be "da black girl".


Our Moments

Mary Louise has started to call us "Mom" and "Dad" (rather than the Mommy and Daddy which David still uses). Every time I hear her say it, with out fail, my heart sinks just a little bit. It's happening. They're growing. Though inevitable, beautiful, amazing, hurts in the most profound and intimate way. I'm so aware of it - for which I'm both grateful and groaning. My own growing pains...I never thought I'd have them in my 30's.
David. People. Our David is POTTY TRAINED!!!!!! Oh my. He made it through a few errands - AND the park yesterday. He made it through a stroller ride, feeding the ducks at the lake, and working on projects in the back yard - ALL in his "big boy" underpants of choice - and ALL with asking for the rest room as needed. We are over the moon proud of his hard work, his personal choice, his progressing with comfort.

Even on my most frustrated day of "potty training", I went to bed disappointed in myself - not David -
NOT David. I knew I was our limiting factor. David would, as he always has, do as he felt comfortable, without regard to external pressures; he would progress as he knew his body was ready. Today, he knows himself, he knows his body, and he listens accordingly.
A while back, we went to a local fire station. It was. amazing. We went with our "field trip friends" Christi, Benjamin, and baby Sophia. The firemen, though Christ called and confirmed, were not expecting us. However, they rose to the occasion and made our visit fantastic.

We got a tour of the fire station. The kids got a chance to play on the fire pole (that is just there for show - it's a new house with everything on the bottom level - no need for a working pole). They gave the kids coloring books and showed them how to "stop, drop and roll"...

Then we went to the truck bay...oh my.

David wasn't too sure when I plopped him on the front bumper of the HUGE shiny fire truck...(Mary Louise wasn't having any of that and stayed hooked to my hip)

But when the fire man showing us around offered to take us around the block?! we were ALL absolutely giddy!!

(Mary Louise spontaneously slid off the sofa a few days prior to the tour - her glasses smashed against her face, splitting her brow about half an inch. I cleaned and glued it - but only a princess bandaid made it actually FEEL better. Ha - she sported that look for 3 or 4 days while it healed.)

Once back from riding around the block, (so fun!!! - lights and horn blowing...I'm sure the neighbors weren't quite as excited...) the fire men took out all of their gear and offered for Mary Louise, David and Benjamin to try things on, touch as they wished and even suited up completely for the kids to see.

But they weren't done yet...those sweet men let our babies play with the heat seeker, shoot the fire hose and pulled the truck out (again) so that we could all see the ladder completely extended. They took all of the saws and heavy tools out of the truck one by one and told us what each of them did, they explained how they rode, how they worked as a team, and again let everyone look around as they wanted before answering final questions. Amazing doesn't do the experience justice. David is still talking about it; and Mary Louise and David have both asked numerous times if we could go back and see everything again.

From Fire Station field trip March 2013

As we were leaving, Benjamin asked to go to the airport. We opted to tag along. We have a local airport  where one can see private, military and mail planes land...
We went:

We saw:

We got hungry and headed off for lunch where the kids played some more before beginning melt downs (really, as if that wasn't expected...). Christi's little ones needed a nap. The LeBlanc kids? yeah. They needed a chocolate milk and a ride in a police car buggy:

When Brent got home, I stayed out of sight and just listened to the kids try to tell him about their day:
"We rode a fire truck!!"
"I want to be a fireman!"
"I want to be a ballerina and a doctor!"
"We saw a plane!"
"I want to be a fireman!"
"We played alot! a police car!"
"I want a fire truck!" - (David is WAAAAAY into the whole fire truck / station / fire man thing and has been for quite some time)
"Da house is on fire!! Yet's put it out David!"

Yeah - I heard, "The house is on fire!" at least 32 times in the 24 hours that followed that day. No matter how many times I heard it, my heart sank and I instinctively did a kid and pet inventory every. single. time. Sigh. My panic button is far too easily pressed.
We also had some family photos done. While the actual pics came out great, (and I will post a few later), I tried to set the camera to take a few when we got home...and the following ones are funny for a few reasons:

1. Everett's face? yeah - he pooped. Like massive HUGE call a full code brown because no way can a diaper hold this kind of poop...poop.

2. Brent? of course didn't notice (why?!?!) and used the awesome crotch hold - because what could be more family picture friendly than a kid dangling by his crotch?

3. Mary Louise? I have no idea what was so funny...maybe she was the only one "in the know" about E's full diaper.

4. You think David's laughing? He might have been...but it was a scary hysterical "I'm so tired and I don't even want to look up much less smile for a picture" kind of pre-fit laugh.

5. I'm probably uttering some sort of profanity under my breath which one of the kids inevitably heard and saved in their "for the public only" memory box.

Which brings me to a final story:

Brent walks in after work one day. He asks the kids how their day was. I can't remember what I was doing but I was within ear shot.

Brent: Hey Mary Louise! How was your day?
ML: It was fun! We went to the park! The big one and we were going to ride our bikes on da road!!
Brent: Really? That sounds great!
ML: Yeah. But den David crapped in his pants so we had to yeave...

and that, my friends is what I call "a shining Mom moment". A+ and pat on the back self. NOW will you clean up your mouth?

Now, in my feeble defense, I was helping Mary Louise in the bathroom, David was next to me. He said he had to poop. I offered him the toilet. He refused, walked around the corner, pooped in his diaper, came back and told me he needed "fresh pants". So, we left - even though I'd taken them a half hour away to a state park and had a wonderful time planned. UGH. I was just done and needed to stick to a consequence I'd laid out earlier: if you choose to poop when we're out, we come straight home.

Apparently it worked a bit.

(oh and it's been a few days now - David is still awesomely potty trained!!!!)

AAAAAND: Mary Louise music class montage (because that's also what we've been doing!)


Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Just Living

Oh, it's sad to see how much time has passed without a post and so much on my mind...

We had a wonderful day today. David did very well in his therapy session this morning. He is making great progress globally and we're gearing up for his IEP review next week. Though I'm preparing for things to go a bit less than smoothly, I am hoping for the best and really just wanting us to all keep in mind the end goal - find what is best for David.

After David's teacher left, we mixed and mashed corn starch and liquid dish soap to make play dough. It was a mess - but it smelled great and clean up was super easy. Mary Louise and David brought the remnant left overs outside and played and mixed with water and dirt for a good while before asking for a little break.

We sat for a bit - I actually dozed with Everett on the sofa while Mary Louise and David looked at books or quietly played. I don't remember the last time I was actually able to doze while they played - possibly once or twice while pregnant...anyhow, it was nice.

After our (or my) rest, we packed the car with babies, tricycles and bread and went to the lake front for an afternoon walk/ ride.

It was terribly windy - and Mary Louise thought it was hilarious. David pedaled his little heart out and giggled and grinned the whole way. They both fed the ducks, geese, guls, and pigeons. They both LOVED it. They were happy to go, happy to leave and happy to have a nice hot meal when we got home.

We played "washing machine" during bath time - they took their clothes off and "washed" them in the bath while I washed them. Odd? yes. Funny? definitely. Keeps some slightly over tired kids happy for the home stretch to bed? YES! it's a win - thanks Mommom for coming up with it.

We've been watching our seeds grow over the past 2 weeks. They're really doing well and some are almost ready for transfer. I'll post pictures of the amazing planters Brent made soon - but here are a few of the planting and his little helpers.

And of course this little bug was standing by the whole time:

What a stinker!

Mere and Pops visited over the weekend. We had a lovely, quiet time around the house and enjoyed the company. Everett put on quite a show imitating the "big kids" on the trampoline:

(again, sorry about the angle - double click on the video to see the full screen)

Oh how he wants to join in the fun just like his big brother and sister!


I'll do a separate post with a few more vids from the past week or so...


Super Field Trip Thursday!

We got up this morning and Mary Louise wanted far this week, we have made bread (in the bread machine), whole grain oat / raisin cookies...and I got a food dehydrator so we made kale chips and put a bunch of grapefruit through the Vita Mix, strained it for juice then dried the peels for grapefruit powder - to be used in bathroom and kitchen cleaning as well as some skin care recipes. Today, I took some of the grapefruit pulp and simmered it with blueberries, added a bit of water and sugar and made a yummy, sweet, tart and slightly bitter pancake topping to go with our pancakes. Mary Louise and David have started to count ingredients, watch closely as we measure together and are much more attentive with the whole cooking process than they were just a few weeks ago. This means tons of fun for me! I LOVE having my short cooking buddies super excited about good foods. Another great plus? Mary Louise and David EAT whatever they help with - because obviously having your hands in the raw ingredients just makes the final product taste that much better. (ok - it does)

After breakfast, we cleaned up, got dressed and loaded the car for a special the newest Lake Charles attraction: the Galaxy Bounce House!! We were one of only 3 families there - it's grand opening was on a school day at 11am so all the kiddos were ML and D's age or younger. We went with our friends Mrs. Christi, Benjamin and baby Sophia. It was great fun! Mary Louise and David behaved beautifully. I watched as they climbed up the towering ladders and flew down the enormous inflatable slides. They navigated through blown up mazes, bounced on alley ways and giggled through tunnels. No one was too rough, we were the first customers ever so the entire place smelled like new plastic and much of the time, Mary Louise and David and Benjamin had entire structures to themselves.

(sorry about the angle)

Mary Louise and David jumped for a solid 2 hours before I suggested we go home for lunch. They agreed after one more go down the biggest slide there.

We loaded up again a couple of hours later to attend a monster truck show and tell in the parking lot of a local library. I didn't know how Mary Louise and David would do - obviously, we were pushing things as far as energy, tolerance and stimulation. But, it sounded fun and was worth a try. We pulled into the lot and David said, "hey! dere's a big twuck dere!"

We got out and walked slowly toward the massive beast. There was a man with a pony tail growing out of his chin (look, I don't know what the beard decorated with pony tail holders is called...) standing in front of the truck answering questions.

Mary Louise and David walked cautiously closer:
David: Mommy?
Me: Yes David
D: Das a big truck
Me: Yes Pun-kin it is. Would you like to look closer?
D: Um. No.
ML: Dose are big wheels.
Me: Yes. Bigger than you huh. Can I take your picture next to it?
ML and D: No...hey! Das where we go an yook at our books!!
Me: Yes. It is.
ML and D: Can we go an yook at our books now?? Can we bring some home??? I want to go a weed books now.
Me: (grinning) ok. We'll go and look at books now.

And that was that - all interest was on the books inside the sliding doors...and the toilet beyond those doors...why? because it's like 2 inches off the floor and Mary Louise is absolutely fascinated with "real" toilets that are "just my size". Too bad David wasn't as fascinated. He pooped, we left, end of story. (because stinking up the isles of the library ranks up there with stinking up church m'kay?).

A change of diaper later, we ran into the grocery nearby for a few things. Mary Louise and David LOVE this particular store because of the super fancy car buggies. Throughout the store, our "big kids" slapped the pretend horns, drove like crazy (because I wiggled the cart as they turned and told them they were in charge of driving) and waved to anyone and everyone we passed.

Upon checking out, the cashier looked at them in the cart and Everett in his carrier and said, "GIRL! I know your nerves must be shot!"

I grinned and before I could answer, David yelled, "OK THANK YOU BYE BYE!!! SEE YOU LATER!!" tooting his "horn" and waiving furiously until we got outside.

That would be a pretty typical day around here - not so bad eh?!