Wednesday, August 26, 2009

to my little leah...

*warning: this is a long post. a very long post. and it's brutally honest. it might be boring to most readers and it is mostly for my own journaling purposes...i debated whether or not to post it here, but i just needed to get some things written down that i didn't want to forget.

Little Leah,

(August 22, 2009)

Today you are two and half years old. I can hardly believe it. Since I haven’t been so good during your second year of life to record your monthly goings-on, I’m going to try that now. But I’ll warn you…I’m going to start with the bad and the ugly…and it’s not a short list.

You are VERY much two years old. My word. You can throw a tantrum like the best of ‘em. Better than the best of ‘em. Some of my friends think their kids throw tantrums, and, while I would never want to make them feel bad, their kids’ tantrums don’t even hold a candle to yours. You kick, you hit, you scream, you pinch, you bite and you flail. You usually end up as a sweaty ball of Leah when you’re finally done. Sometimes you’re not done for HOURS. You don’t care if we’re in the privacy of our own home, with good friends or family, or out in public. You are willing to throw those signature tantrums anywhere. To be completely honest, I’m surprised with my patience during these episodes (most of the time). Your dad’s too. Once in awhile we get a little (or really) angry, but usually you’ll see us speaking to you very calmly, singing a song, rocking you or just watching you as we are bombarded with sheer meanness on your end.

At your second birthday, you could say quite a few things, including “toot” (two) and “ee-uh” (leah). You knew mommy, daddy and a few other people like Sarah and Jack and you used lots of words to describe your surroundings. You copied most of the simple words you heard even if you didn’t know how to use them in context. You even said “opatus” for octopus! You knew LOTS of animal sounds like dog, horse, snake, crow, hippo, elephant, duck and lizard. Since then, your language has dropped off the face of the Earth. No one is sure where it went or how to get it back, and that scares us. You have highly qualified neurologists and pediatric specialists completely baffled. You seem to speak your own language, which we like to call Leahnese. I’m pretty sure you’re the only one who understands it. It usually consists of babbles and sounds, but occasionally we get an “eat”, “please” or “oh no” thrown in there. You do know how to say “beep beep” for car as well as how to say “dolly” – but that can actually mean dolly, doggy or daddy. It’s kind of a wild card. My favorite is “nonny.” You say this all the time and NO ONE can figure out what it means. We’ve even offered monetary prizes to anyone who can really get to the bottom of it…and we still have our money.

You still love, love, LOVE to read books. However, you’ve digressed in this area as well. You prefer books to everything else in the house, so much that daddy has threatened to take away all of your books so you will actually do something else. I’m serious. Just test him. He’ll do it. You no longer just read or flip pages in books. You massacre the pages and seem to think that books are a new delicacy to be enjoyed at any hour of the day. You are always hungry for a book. Chunks are bitten out of nearly all of our beloved board books now. Thank you. Your favorite book at two was “Where the Wild Things Are” by Maurice Sendak. You are able to finish two of the sentences all by yourself: “And it was stil…HOT!” and, “And Max said…NO!” Currently, your favorite book is “The Sneetches” by Dr. Seuss. You can also finish a few sentences in this book for us, including: “He hiked right on past them without even…TALKING” and “My friend you can have them for three dollars…EACH!”

At two, you were getting pretty good at feeding yourself with a fork or spoon. You ate you own cereal in the morning and were especially good at foods that adhered to utensils like applesauce, oatmeal and yogurt. You liked to eat…a lot…and were relatively pleasant at meal times. This, too, has been lovingly tossed out the window. Currently you despise sitting in your seat at all. You just won’t do it. When we put a bowl or plate of your food on the table for you to eat, you immediately pick it up and use it as a Frisbee – even if you really do want to eat the food. I have resorted to spoon feeding you your cereal in the morning while you sit on my lap. It greatly decreases our productivity, but it gets you fed and it keeps me sane. The rest of your food is currently consumed with your 10 little fingers…if it’s consumed at all (you’ve gone to bed hungry more than a few times recently). It’s not something I’m going to battle right now. We have other worries…

Because of all of these worries with your delays and reverse development, you qualified last May for school through the state of California – an Early Start program. You have an excellent teacher named Jan who has two aides named Patty and Helen. You love all three of them and they love you. But you baffle them too! Most of the kids in your class have Down’s syndrome. They are sweet as sweet can be. And you seem to be their protector. Once when Penny, one of your classmates, was eating paper, Jan took the paper from her (for her own safety, remember) and replaced it with a toy. Penny didn’t seem to like this idea and started to cry. You promptly walked over to Penny, gave her a hug, walked over to Jan, hit her in the arm, and then walked back over to Penny to continue hugging her. Although I don’t approve of hitting, that is pretty dang cute. At school, you love snack time and singing time, although you’ve decided that it’s not necessary to join the group for singing. You wander around and when you’re interested in a song, you come and stand (not sit) in the circle. I have NO idea where you got you stubborn streak. J

Sadly, you have stopped letting me do you hair. Gone are the days of delicious French braids and delectable pig tails. I maybe get to put a clippy in your hair in the morning and once in awhile (if you are completely distracted and otherwise happy), I can get some sloppy nubbies in. I’m sure this is just a phase. This better be just a phase.

At two years, you were becoming a budding artist. You loved to color (despite the occasional crayon to mouth incident) and you were just discovering play-do. I’ve tried and tried and tried to continue this love – to no avail. You have no interest in anything art unless it’s headed toward your mouth. When I picked you up from nursery on Sunday you had a fluorescent green glow emanating from you mouth. Yup, it was a crayon. You seem to want to do other things with your fingers, like cross them in ways I thought previously unattainable. It is a big worry for your dad and I (and lots of other people who love you), so we’re doing all we can to figure it out.

Which brings us to the good: 2 ½ years ago, your dad and I had crossed the bay area off of places to live due to cost of living. Somehow, we ended up here…and I’m beginning to think that you had a lot to do with our decision even though I didn’t know it at the time. We are surrounded by world renown medical technology here, including Stanford University. We have also had many small miracles come into our lives just by people we know: people in our ward, parents of piano students, and more. There are so many people who love you and want the best for you; they are willing to all they can to make sure that you are taken care of and for that I will be forever grateful. There is nothing that I want more than a happy little Leah.

One thing that has made us ALL happier this year is your increased mobility. You started to stand up all by yourself in mid-March. Throughout the month, you mastered your ability to walk while lightly holding onto something: my finger, a ribbon, a dishtowel, a pen. On April 3rd (two days after I pulled an excellent April Fool’s Day joke on everyone), you decided to take you very first step unassisted. Okay, your first TWENTY SIX steps unassisted. There was sheer thrill in your voice. The Layton household was full of laughter, smiles and tears that night. And we haven’t stopped smiling at your mobility since. You are definitely still wobbly, but you are getting better at walking on uneven surfaces, climbing stairs, playing on the playground and walking over obstacles. You even started to try to run this summer and you get better at it every day. Ah, I’m smiling right now just thinking about it. You were 771 days old (26 months).

There is one thing that has stayed the same during your whole life and that is your sleeping. Three cheers for Leah’s great sleeping! For the most part, you sleep about 12 hours at night straight and you usually take a 1.5-3 hour nap. I have to admit, I love those three-hour-nap days. You will also sleep pretty much anywhere. We’ve taken you to friend’s houses, you’ve slept in other cribs and pack and plays and you also do pretty well sleeping in a tent while camping. While you sleep, it’s imperative that you have your essentials: dolly and blanket. Dolly was given to you by Grandma Hauley and you haven’t let go of it since about one year. You secure your pointer finger in dolly’s well-worn tag, you hold her close to your face and you even eat her. You love her so much that I’ve had to re-stitch the hand back on (she will forever be missing part of it) and she is starting to get holes in her face! But, it’s all worth it because she has such a calming effect on you. You get a big grin and your whole body just relaxes the moment you see her. Blanket was given to you by my college roommate, Morgan. It was used as an oversized swaddling blanket for awhile and now you can’t sleep without it. Good thing Morgan picked out cute fabric! I’m working on a quilt that will be used for you big girl bed. I just need to bind the edges and it will be ready. It might be a little while before you’re ready for a big girl bed, but when you are, your new quilt will be waiting for you.

You are an A+ TV watcher. This is good and bad, but since I monitor it, it’s mostly good. You love Sesame Street – especially Abby Cadabby (you even laugh like her!) and Super Grover. One of your favorite movies (and an instant calmer-downer) is “Abby in Wonderland” that Grandma Layton gave to you for Christmas. You also love the Backyardigans, much to Grandma Hauley’s and my delight.

You don’t really love to get dressed anymore, but you let me indulge in dressing you in frilly tutus and cute, ruffled shirts. You also have an infatuation with jeans. You love them. If you see them in your drawer, you want them on. Right then. Your feet finally grew this summer and we replaced the size fours you had been wearing for a year with all THREE pair of size five shoes the store had to offer at the time. Then you lost one, so you were down to two…lucky for us new fall styles are arriving in stores as we speak.

You are a wonderful piano player and you pour out your heart and soul on those keys; so much that we usually have to use the soft pedal. You give the sweetest kisses and are starting to give great hugs too. You cuddle with either me or daddy each night as we read you bedtime stories and you’re starting to be more cordial when we brush your teeth. You love to run around your room and just laugh and laugh and laugh…and then crash out of sheer exhaustion onto your big, green chair. You love the mirrored closets in your new room and you’re learning (the hard way) to not hit them all day long. You still love to listen to music and will give us a shimmy and a shake once in a blue moon. You love to hear Taylor Swift, Carrie Underwood, Rascal Flatts, Keith Urban, your New Orleans kids mix, John Mayer and lots of random songs on my iTunes mix.

You’ve started to help me in the kitchen a little bit. We pull up a chair and you stand by the counter and watch what I’m doing. You love watching me make smoothies (and then you like to drink them!) and you really enjoy seeing anything get mixed in our beloved KitchenAid mixer (your dad sure is a good gift picker-outer; he knew it would make us both smile).

In daddy’s words, at two and a half years old, you are “one big tantrum tangled up with lots of kisses – which makes it all worth it.” I think I’ll have to agree.

You are a sweet little girl and I love you with all my heart. I love you more than you can imagine and I just want you to be happy. It makes me sad when you are sad or frustrated and can’t tell me what you want and need. It makes me sad to think that you might have challenges in this life that no parent would ever want their child to have. And yet, I think you just might. But, I know Heavenly Father sent you to me for a reason. We both agreed to whatever would happen to us in this life and He offered His help whenever we need it. And I think we’re going to need it a lot. I’ve learned over and over that even if I think I can do something alone, I can’t – I’m not supposed to. You help me and daddy and we help you and Heavenly Father helps us all. We can do it as a team. You have been an incredible addition to my life – one that I wouldn’t change for anything in the world. I love you to the moon and back.

Love,

Mommy



19 comments:

Rebecca Parker said...

i read it all & it wasn't boring in the least my dear cousin...even though we had oppor to talk a lot @ cabin, i'm grateful to have gotten to know Leah better & hear again your sweet musings as a mother.Just wish i had the answers that you so desperately seek! your last paragraph pretty much summed it up though as we all deal with life's challenges-Keep the faith & remember you are both daughters of God! & Ryan is an awesome husband/father too:)

Molly said...

Very touching post, Maren. Thanks for sharing.

LTC said...

You are one amazing Momma Miss Maren!

Michelle said...

What a sweet letter to Leah. You are such a good mom Maren.

Rach said...

Loved it! You are great! And we love Leah so much. She always makes us happy!

t.t.turner said...

This is so sweet, Maren. You're in our prayers. :)

Uffens Family said...

I am so glad you posted it Mare...I am glad to know Leah and your situation more so that I can marvel even more at you (which I KNOW is not the response you are looking for!) and keep you, Ryan, and especially Leah in my prayers....I know some amazing mothers...my own in fact...and I also know for a fact...that God sends these most challenging special ones to those moms...I have some life experience there...Love you all!!

Kaylynn said...

Beautiful. I was completely choked up thinking about what an amazing person you are. Unfortunately I don't think I've ever told you that, but you are. Definitely an inspiration!

Karen Hauley said...

I love you - all of you.

Jenny said...

This was beautifully written. I don't like that our little children have to go through so much, but I do understand that it's all about that last paragraph you wrote -- about learning to rely on the Lord more -- and that brings me great comfort. I'm glad you decided to post this. By the way, we're moving to San Jose. Maybe we can get together?

Kristen said...

Leah certainly came to the perfect family for her. We all adore that little girl. I especially love her kisses!

Julia said...

We love little Leah so much. And we love you guys so much. Maren you are a beautiful and gifted mother, friend, wife ... and so many other things. Leah, and the rest of us are lucky to have you. You are in our prayers.

Dan and Heather said...

I can't think of anyone that better equipped to provide for the needs of Leah. You are an amazing mom. Lug all of you!

Baldersons said...

Leah is so lucky to have you as her mum....we miss seeing Leah's cute little face!

Jons and Celeste Leigh said...

You are a great mom and an amazing example!

B, C, and D said...

What a great mama you are!! :)

Morgan said...

that was such a sweet post mare! i had no idea about a lot of this stuff since i haven't seen you guys in forever. thank you for sharing!! you and leah and ryan are in our thoughts and prayers. you are an awesome mommy and leah is so lucky to have you!

ps i am SOOO happy that the blanket i made is leah's fave. i too love the fabric, so i really can't blame her!! ;)

ed and kelli said...

well now that i can read this on real internet, i can post too. i still cry whenever i read this. I lug you all so much and i hear you goign through this on the phoen and saw it in person and you are a champion! i still get upset that my blasted education is of no help. you think i would have learned something right? but i guess i should beat myself up over it if neurologists can't crack the case yet either. We pray all the tiem for you guys and that it will all get figured out soon. I hope my gift to her is of some aide.. i smile whenever i think of little dotes and still tear up thinking about the night i got the call from ryan that she was here. i love you guys to the moon and back and hope to see you again soon!!!

Shane and Linda said...

Thanks for sharing! It's amazing how these sweet little kids can be the source of our greatest joy and our greatest frustration. You're a wonderful mom!