Thursday, December 31, 2009

what christmas is all about...

dear little leah,

i had a breakdown.

on christmas morning.

i know, i'm unbelievable. you can say it. it's true. you'd think i would learn my lesson by now. i guess i have learned it. i just keep forgetting.

on christmas morning after you woke up (at 9am...thank you!), daddy went to turn on the christmas tree lights, power-up the squeeze box to play our christmas music and tune the tv to channel 36 so {in absence of our own fireplace} we could watch the yule log burn as we opened our presents. you walked out and weren't at all interested in any of your gifts. you weren't excited about ripping off the paper. you didn't squeal with joy at you new dolly and stroller. i'm quite sure you still don't even know you had a stocking full of treats.

it just wasn't the way i pictured it. it wasn't the way your third christmas was supposed to be. your third christmas was supposed to be all about learning to sing jingle bells, baking cookies for santa {and me being able to use santa as an excuse for your extra good behavior}. christmas was supposed to be all about opening up warm new jammies, watching a christmas movie together and then reading "the night before christmas" and the true christmas story.

your third christmas was chaos. it was a regular day. you did wear your new jammies, but you were only interested in eating breakfast, sleeping and watching backyardigans. no excitement. no wonder.

so i broke down. i cried. i laid on the living room floor and just lost it. i think your daddy thinks i'm crazy.

i think i'm crazy too. because after i broke down, i remembered. i remembered that lesson i've learned over and over throughout my life. i remembered christmas isn't about gifts wrapped underneath the tree. christmas isn't about baking cookies for santa or reading "the night before christmas." christmas isn't about using old saint nick to threaten you with good behavior.

christmas is about Christ. it's about being together as a family and enjoying one another. it's about remembering all the ways we have been blessed this year.

i'm happy to report that we did do this. we thoroughly enjoyed having daddy home from work. we've spent loads of time together. and i i'm pretty sure we've enjoyed one another.

and that makes me feel blessed.

isn't that what christmas is all about? :)


Tuesday, December 22, 2009

dear santa {2009},

dear santa,

wow. what a year.

because my naughty/nice status is a bit confusing this year, please allow me to explain. i'll begin with the naughty:

first, you may or may not have heard that i have what some may call a little bit of a temper problem. an anger management course has been considered, but i'm just not sure i have the attention span to sit through one. i'm working on it. it's frustrating, though...i have so many things to say and i can't say them! there are so many toys i want to play with and i can't figure out how to play with them! there are so many good things i want to eat but i'm not supposed to eat them {my crib especially}!

since we're on the topic of eating things i'm not supposed to eat, i think my mommy mentioned that my crib looks like a beaver lives there. so does my mommy's newly-painted and reupholstered chair. sorry about that. things are looking up. the parents finally got wise and covered the sides of the crib and they watch me carefully around the chair. oh, and about jeff and sarah's chair: we'll reimburse them. i promise.

second, i'm pretty certain you know about my sleeping situation. i went from a champion sleeper {one of the things that put me on the nice list last year} to a very mean, horrible, terrible, awful person during the night. i scream. i flail. i pinch. i hit. i grab. i kick. i. get. mean. but this really isn't my fault either. i can't help it. my tummy hurts so much. and i get night terrors. and sometimes i just plain don't like my parents. but i know it's not their fault. they were nice enough to find me a medication that works so i can get my beauty rest. it's working...for the most part.

i don't really like to talk anymore. i'm totally over it. talking is overrated. there are so many other ways to communicate, don't you think? panting, screaming, grunting, hitting...all good options. i'm very creative that way.

okay, okay, so i don't love to play with my toys. or my crayons. or anything really except my dvds and my cd player {unless i can put it in my mouth}. i'm just a modern gal. i like technology. just because it's new doesn't mean it's bad. there are lots of good things you can learn from dvds...and good, wholesome music is played on my cd player. mom even switched it to christmas music for december, so really, i'm just doing her a favor by playing it all day long.

i'm a library reading-time drop-out. i know this sounds bad. it just wasn't for me. i'm more on-the-go than all those goodie-two-shoes. i like to run free and experience life at full speed. no sitting down and relaxing for me. give me a book on cd, sure. just don't make me sit there.

i think that's all i have for my naughty list. if you have more in your file, please notify me at your earliest convenience so i can clear them from my record.

as for the nice checklist, it's a good one:

i learned to walk! did you read that correctly? I LEARNED TO WALK! this alone should place me on the nice list. i told you i would in last year's letter and i did! i held up my end of the bargain for sure. and not only did i learn to walk, i learned to run. and i've held on to this skill for dear life as the rest of my body seems to be deteriorating. that's got to be worth something. i think it deserves triple nice points, don't you?

i started school this year. i'm so good at school. my best subjects are kicking soccer balls 101, going up and down stairs 201 and eating 500. i'm so good at eating snacks. my teachers really like me. i'm sure if you contact them, they'll give me rave reviews. the other kids like me too. i stand up for them when they're bullied. i share my slobbered-on toys. mostly i just stay out of their way.

last year i mentioned i was really good at letting my mommy do my hair. i know i hit a rough spot this year...and i'm still not totally out of the rut, but i'm getting better. once in awhile she can get some cute pigtails in. i'm working on it. plus, i let her cut my bangs and it's done wonders for my appearance. you can have my mommy thank me later.

last month i got an mri. for a two year old, that means general anesthesia. enough said.

we took a road trip last month and i slept the whole way. both ways. i was a champion in the car. and when i was transferred to beds both times, i went back to sleep. i'm becoming such a good traveling companion. i know i don't like it when i have to stop at a red light {and, as i mentioned before, i communicate my displeasure with high-pitched screaming}, but i'm a mover and a shaker. just tell my parents to use the freeway more often. fewer red lights.

i give the greatest hugs. my mommy and daddy just eat them up! i have a sweet, sweet giggle. once in a blue moon i shout out the words "mama" or "daddy." it takes a lot of effort and concentration, but i do it for parental benefit. they seem to like it. i do still love reading. i know most people don't consider eating books the same as reading, but it's the same material no matter how you look at it. i'm learning to communicate with my eyes. i have such pretty eyes, don't you think? i'll keep working on that this year. i promise i'll be better at communicating by next year. and i'll work hard at keeping up all of my other skills - especially walking.

well, mr. kringle. i think my arguments can only lead to one solution. the nice outweighs the naughty. i'm just a fun-loving gal. people have a hard time not liking me. and i'm not trying to boast. i'm just laying out the facts.

if you need gift ideas this year {you can pass along any extras to my parents}, i'd love some backyardigans paraphernalia, books, music, maybe a baby doll and something that makes noise. i like to make noise.

merry christmas!


little leah

p.s. thanks for not laughing at me when i didn't realize i was supposed to sit on your lap, not in front of you this year. sometimes i just need someone to hold my hand and show me the way.

p.p.s. are you younger this year? or is it just me?

Friday, December 11, 2009

baby jesus

Dear little leah,
December 2009

Many years ago, when your mama was very small (like you!), I made a very special nativity set. I wanted to teach your mama (maren), and aunt kelli, and uncles scott and dan about Jesus and how He came to earth so that someday we could go back to live with Heavenly Father.

I made the nativity set out of fabric so children could touch it and use the pieces to act out the story of Jesus' birth. I didn't want children to be afraid to touch and move the pieces nor to worry about breaking anything. Many nativity sets are shiny and breakable, and grownups are always saying, "you can look at it but you can't touch it!" Not this one. You can touch it and feel the warmth that comes from hearing the story about Jesus; of Joseph and Mary traveling to Bethlehem to pay their taxes and while they were there Mary knew it was time for her baby to be born. Joseph and Mary didn't have any place to sleep and the innkeeper said he didn't have a room for them so they went to a stable - a cave, really. It must have been cold and not very clean because animals lived in the stable. But that night Mary didn't worry about where she was - she was just happy to bring her little baby boy, Jesus, into the world. She held Him, and rocked Him, and I'm sure she sang Him a lullaby. Love filled the stable that night.

Lots of people were waiting for Jesus to be born. And Heavenly Father wanted everyone to know, so He put a big star in the sky right over the stable where Jesus lay resting.

And angel came to visit some shepherds who were busy tending their sheep in the fields. The angel told the shepherds to look at the star in the sky...if they followed it, they would find Jesus. Follow the star - it will lead you to the Son.

Wise men in a far away country also saw the star in the sky - people in many countries saw the star and knew that it was a sign from heavenly Father that He had sent His Son. The wise men traveled a long, long time to come see Jesus. They brought Him presents because they wanted Jesus to know that they loved Him, and they wanted to thank Heavenly Father for giving them the gift of His Son.

Little Leah, this fabric nativity set hasn't had any children to play with it for a long time. Your mama and kelli and scott and dan are all grown up and there aren't any little children in my house anymore. I've wondered for a long time what to do with this nativity, but this year I knew exactly what to do.

You see, Jesus came to earth to heal us. We all need Him and can't go back to live with Heavenly Father without Him. But sometimes we all get busy and we forget about Jesus - sometimes we get careless and do things that make Jesus sad. But Heavenly Father sent you to our family to help us remember Jesus. You are pure and you haven't forgotten Jesus. I know that if you held this little baby Jesus in your hands you will love Him and take care of Him. And He will love and take care of you. So, will you be the caretaker of the inn and all of its inhabitants? Your mama and daddy can help because I know that they love Jesus, too.

Little Leah, I'm so glad you're my little granddaughter. I love you so very much. Heavenly Father and I talk about you a lot. He has let me know what an amazing daughter of God you are.

Merry Christmas, little leah.
With lots of love, grandma hauley (grandshmoj)

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

leah jekyll/leah hyde

we've had some jekyll/hyde action going on at our house lately.

this is from our last day in san diego. after an escapade inside denny's. leah hyde may or may not have rubbed ketchup all over the wall.
this is a few nights before that. leah jekyll being her regular, silly self.we much prefer leah jekyll.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

gratitude: day 25

today i am grateful for leah.hopefully everyone already knows this.

i'm grateful she has made me love someone in a way i never knew was possible.

i'm grateful she has helped me be more patient. more understanding. more nurturing.

i'm grateful she has helped me to slow down {sometimes} and enjoy smaller things in life. to see things as i'm sure i used to see them, and then somehow forgot. to relax and play. to not always worry about messes...and even have fun with them.

i'm grateful she's my little helper. she goes almost everywhere with me. she does almost everything with me.

i'm grateful for her laugh. her smile. her curls. her eyes. her chubby cheeks. her roly-poly legs. her six-pack abs. her ticklish tummy. her bum cheeks. her sense of humor. her love of books. her curiosity. her teasing. her wobbly run.

i'm grateful she was strong enough and brave enough before she even came here to sign up for all of her challenges. and i'm grateful she trusted me enough to take care of her while she is here.

i'm grateful she has helped me remember to fall on my knees to pray each morning and each night...and usually many times in between.

i'm grateful for the ups...and downs...even though i much prefer the ups.

i'm grateful she forgets when i make a mistake. or when i'm not as nice or as patient as i should be.

i'm grateful for her hugs and kisses. and i'm grateful she said, "ma ma" today, even if she wasn't saying it to me. i needed that.

i'm grateful for leah.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

magnetic resonance imaging

dear little leah,

yesterday was a first for all of us. on tuesday, you had your first {and hopefully your last} mri. because you're only two and not many two year olds can sit completely and perfectly still for an hour, the doctors and nurses had to put you under general anesthesia.

that's a scary thing.

but you did an amazing job.

first of all, three cheers for making it through the morning before all this mri business even started. i'm not sure whose idea it was to make a two year old get an mri at 2:00pm, but i'm pretty sure they never consulted anyone with a toddler first. we were under strict instructions to feed you only clear liquids {plain jell-o was also permitted} until 11am and then stop feeding you completely. have they met you? you follow in my footsteps: you love to eat. it was painful for me to not feed you for that long. i decided to not eat as well just so i could feel your pain. you're welcome.
because the mri was at 2pm, we had to be at the hospital at 12:30. do you see a problem here? 12:30. naptime. yah. you don't do well without sleep. that has been proven in the last two months. you were fine when we walked into the hospital. they gave us all stickers to wear. but you quickly lost it after that.doesn't daddy look amused in this picture?

after we got you dressed in your cute little gown {remind me again how i forgot to take it home with us}, your friend kathy joined us. kathy is in our ward and she's also the lds chaplain at stanford hospital. she loves you. and you love her. she calmed you down in three seconds flat. it was incredible!

after you were calm, a really nice nurse came in and explained everything to us. we walked to another room where they got some of your health history and then gave you some versed orally. that means through your mouth. sorry, no big words here. the nurse said versed either makes you sleepy or silly. i guessed you'd choose silly. i guessed wrong. you were one sleepy leah!after you were sleepy enough, daddy carried you to another room where they gave you this "watermelon gas" to put you completely out. that's when i lost it.

i tried to cry quietly. the nurse called me out on it. and then it was all over. she asked if i wanted to kiss you and then say goodbye. um, yes, but not to the latter. it was so strange to see you so still on that bed with a mask on your face. i knew you were sleeping...but not because you were tired. i was scared. even though i knew you'd be okay. i was scared.

good thing you were brave.

daddy and i went to the cafeteria while you endured who knows what. at least you won't remember it right?

about 45 minutes later, they called us back to see you. you were OUT. out i tell ya! i think two months of no sleeping finally caught up with you. when we finally aroused you enough to partake of our popsicles and apple juice, we got you dressed and brought you home. you kept pulling the funniest faces. included this one with your lips:
you sleepily sat on the couch with daddy watching some movies. and then you fell alseep.

daddy and i were amazed with how brave you were. you went under beautifully and came out beautifully.

and today you were a dream! so much that daddy thinks you should get an mri every day. not really. he's just kidding. but you ran around like a crazy person all morning - like you were glad we actually let you run around or something. and you ate like a starving monster - like we had starved you the day before or something.

we don't have the results yet, but hopefully they come back with one beautiful looking brain. it makes sense: a beautiful brain for a beautiful girl, right? right.

i love you, you know.

thanks for being brave.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

sweet baby girl

My sweet baby girl,

Tonight you had a rough night. I put you to bed a little before 8:00 p.m., and you screamed in your crib. This wasn’t any trivial scream – it was blood curdling. I felt so bad. I went and picked you up. Your little body was trembling. With each scream you completely tensed. You scraped and clawed at whatever was around (mostly my face, arms, and one not-so-lucky missing tract of skin on the back of my neck). I’m sure you were in some kind of pain. I hate when you’re in pain. It almost doesn’t seem fair that someone as sweet and perfect as you should have to suffer pain. But I guess we all have different things we need to learn in this life don’t we? Here are a couple things I’ve learned (you’ve taught me) so far:

1. Without you, I could never have imagined what it feels like to be completely head-over-heels for someone so small.

2. You’re in the process of teaching me patience – you’re a pretty tough teacher. But like many tough teachers, I’m expecting to learn far more than can be expected otherwise.

3. You’ve allowed me the chance to let my emotions flow. I don’t cry often, but thinking of you often brings tears to my eyes.

4. Your hugs melt me. They are the sweetest things on earth. Oh how I love when I squat down and throw my arms open and then watch as you stop in your tracks, turn toward me, and run as fast as your little legs will carry you until you collapse in my arms.

5. You will always fit in my arms…always.

6. You’ve taught me what is important. When I found out about your diagnosis, the whole world faded away.

I love you little darlin’ – and always will!


Monday, November 9, 2009

hey stephen...

dear little leah,

have i ever told you that you like taylor swift? you do. a lot.

you like her so much that her fearless cd has been in your cd player in your room for months now. and it's all you ever listen to. and you listen to it a lot. all-day-long a lot.

i will officially say you are obsessed. obsessed.

first thing in the morning when you get out of bed, the play button is pushed. then pause. then play. then pause. then play. then forward. then forward. then reverse. then stop. then play. then pause. then play. then repeat. then, after i realize we've listened to the same track for 34 minutes, i un-press repeat and the pattern continues.

actually, there is no pattern. you just likes to push buttons. and you like taylor swift, so it's a great combination.

today, you decided to scream bloody murder and shed crocodile tears before your nap. for an hour. we sat for awhile {aprox. 50 minutes} while i held you down {so you wouldn't mutilate yourself...or me for that matter}, you started to calm down after these 50 or so minutes. we were listening to "hey stephen." the next track came on and you got a bit agitated. so i turned it back to "hey stephen." and then i did it again. and again. and again. probably 14 times. you slowly started to close your eyes {then open them...then close them again} until you were out. really out. as in pick-up-your-arm-and-drop-it-like-a-wet-noodle out. and then i successfully transfered you to your crib. and then turned off the cd player.

i have to admit: although i don't love your crying, i love that i was able to help you fall asleep in my arms. that doesn't happen very often. it never has. you've always been kind of an independent gal when it comes to sleeping. the past few months have changed that. but today i welcomed the opportunity to cuddle.

your tears made me so sad today. so sad, leah. i hate to see you in pain. i'm not sure what causes it. and i'm not sure how to help you feel better. but i'll keep trying.

i'm glad i could help you today.

and i'm glad taylor was there to help too. and stephen.

i love you.


Wednesday, November 4, 2009

dear little leah, the first...

{photo credit: julia wade}

today i made you a blog. well, really, it's a blog for all my letters to you. i write you a lot of letters. that's just the way my mind works. sometimes i write them down, sometimes i don't. and i'm always sad when i haven't written them down. so, this is a blog to solve that problem. i have some old letters that i'm going to post first and then i'll add new ones. hopefully you like it. i sure like you.

love, mommy

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

dear lady,

dear fat, ugly lady we saw at the blood lab this morning,

i hate you. i think you should burn in the deepest, darkest abyss. you are very mean.

did you think it was okay to mutter under you breath today {definitely knowing i could hear you} about how i should listen to my child and just give her some attention? did you think that because you saw about two snippets of our lives this morning, you know exactly how to fix whatever you think our problem is?

did you know that five seconds before your extremely large self waddled through the door this morning i had been reading to my child while she lovingly pinched, hit and scratched me? did you know that i patiently took her abuse while warning her that if she continued to do it i could not have her sit on my lap?

i bet you felt pretty dumb when i turned to you and said, "really? really!?" right to your face after i heard your profound mumbles. in fact, i KNOW you felt pretty dumb because you wouldn't look me in the eye for the rest of the time we were there.

you wouldn't look me in the eye when you sat across from that sweet little child screaming her lungs out because the tech couldn't find her vein, so she poked and prodded and poked and prodded until she finally had to poke the other arm to get the sample.

i'll bet you didn't even think that no matter how hard i tried to get her to stop, maybe she was just mad because she had to go without food for the last 12 hours. from the looks of you, i can't imagine the last time you went 12 hours without food.

i bet you have no idea how many times that little girl has had to go to the doctor's office and blood lab...and how many times her mom has had to sit there and watch. you probably can't guess that she has been poked numerous times to try and figure out why she struggles so much from day to day. i bet you didn't even think that she might be screaming and hitting and scratching and pinching because she HATES that place...almost as much as i hate you.

i'll bet i CAN guess why you were sitting in the chair, but i won't. because that's just rude.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

to my little leah...

Little Leah,

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. Betteranywhere. 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. 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

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: two and a half 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.



Tuesday, May 12, 2009

first day of school?

You started school today.

I keep thinking, "I'm not old enough to have a child in school. You're not old enough to go to school." And then I remember I'm right. I'm not old enough. You're not old enough.

But it's not that kind of school. We still have a few more years for that one.

You started some schooling today through the state to help you with your gross motor skills and speech/communication delays. Two days a week for a few hours.

The teacher is great. The aides are great. The other kids are great. Two of them have Down's Syndrome. When I first saw them, I worried because I didn't think you were that far behind...but then I quickly realized there isn't any other group of kids with whom I'd rather have you spending time. They are beyond sweet.

So, here's to the first day of school. And progress. And new friends. And fun, new back-to-school outfits. You won't look so cute in the future. 'Arts and crafts' doesn't bode well with nice, new clothes. :)

Friday, April 3, 2009

april 3, 2009...a day that will go down in infamy...

{well, at least in the layton household...}

my dear, sweet friend, dyan, watches you once a week while i teach piano. on wednesday i got an email from her saying that she was thinking about you a lot after she left on tuesday...and thought maybe it might help you walk if we tied a ribbon to your wrist so you couldn't let go, but we could slacken the ribbon, if needed. BRILLIANT {and an answer to a desperate prayer on monday night}. so i tried it that day and it WORKED!

yup, little turkey, you took 26 steps as your "first step"! today you were even standing up on your own and walking from there.

YAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAY Leah! We are so proud of you and all your hard work.

yes, i cried.
and smiled.
and cheered.

Monday, February 2, 2009

man oh man...

I just can't contain my excitement, so humor me for a sec:

You stood on her own today. Really! You did! It was only for a few seconds (5 tops), but it was HUGE. I was walking with you when I decided to switch my hand from holding onto your fingers to holding your wrist. That way, you couldn't hang on to me with your death grip when I wanted to let go. You was coming toward me and I let go...and you stood. On your own. All by yourself. No help from me whatsoever. YAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAY LEAH!

When you were finished, you crouched down rather than completely falling. YAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAY LEAH!

I screamed with joy. So you started to scream too. It was pretty funny.

Since i obviously don't have a picture of it, this will have to suffice. I think these are my favorite shoes you have ever owned. Love them.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

truth be told...

This picture just epitomizes little bean at 23 months. Big blue eyes, long sweet eyelashes, curly pig tails, and her dollie nearby. Truth be told, it's been a rough few months. And that's the understatement of the year. I've really been struggling lately with her still not feels as if I've somehow failed. If I can't teach her to do something so innate in 99% of humans...and if there is no medical reason for it, what is MY problem?

I have good days and bad days. And I've probably had more bad days than good as of late, but I'll take full responsibility for that. Every time I read a blog post about how some other mother thinks that this age is just "the best!" or loves all their child is learning or doing, I just break down inside. I'm not sure my pillow has been dry in months. It's hard to go to mother's group or church or anywhere without trying to hide the fact that I'm NOT really ecstatic about how this 9 month old is cruising or this 11 month old is walking. It has NOTHING to do with these particular kids or their parents. It has everything to do with me. Selfish, yes. But it's my life right now and it's hard to feel that you're "failing" at you full-time job while so many others are "succeeding".

I know many would say that I'm not failing; that I'm doing the best I can and it's out of my control. That there's a reason for it even if I don't know what that reason is right now. And you can tell me that until you're blue in the face, but I still feel as if somehow, it should be me who fixes this...and I can't!

A lot of days I just put a fake smile on my face and walk out the door hoping to fool everyone that I'm doing just fine. Other days I really AM doing just fine!

I don't mean this post to be a "poor maren" post and it is in no way intended as an attack on anyone. I've just felt that I needed to get my feelings out somehow...and my journal is beginning to be a dismal record at best. :) I seem to only write on the bad days. It's not meant to be a post so I can receive countless comments on how cool I am, either. I already know I'm cool. :)

Hopefully I will learn what I need to learn from this experience and that in 5 years, I won't be carrying her to elementary school. Hopefully.

For now, I'll just look at this sweet little picture and hope that I'm doing an okay job with this incredible little spirit with whom I've been entrusted.