Before I start on this post I wanted to note that I have updated the China 101 page with a few more items. I marked them as “new” so you could easily see what has been added.
Can you believe that it has been one year since Leo joined our family? Neither can I! Remember how it took almost two months for Leo to decide I wasn’t just the family nanny?
And let’s not even talk about how many months it took for him to not cry when the dogs entered the room. How about how long for him to learn to eat with a spoon or walk on the grass? Those days are long gone and now life is pretty fun. As fun as celebrating the 4th of July as a new American citizen!
While I would love to say that we’ve had a nice leisurely summer, it really hasn’t been because of the various medical and therapy related appointments. After we moved, I had to find a new pediatrician for the children. Because we live in a much larger city now, there is a big children’s hospital with a cleft clinic. We had our first visit there. A cleft clinic is where you see a variety of medical personnel all one after the other, usually taking up a couple of hours. They are all experienced in cleft palate issues and work together to come up with a treatment plan for your individual child. Leo will be seen at the cleft clinic yearly until adulthood and they will handle any future surgeries that he might need. He will also be seeing an ENT at 6 months between cleft clinic visits. He is scheduled to get tubes placed in his ears next month.
I was very impressed by the level of care that we received. We got good information, such as that Leo is unlikely to need orthodontic or dental work due to his cleft plate. We got information which was not so good. The speech language pathologist determined that Leo is not making any sounds which use his repaired palate, even though his palate has been repaired for 10 months. We were referred to a speech therapist who specially trained in cleft palate speech issues and Leo now has weekly speech therapy with her. I can’t say that the new therapist has caused his speech issues to magically disappear, but we now have a better understanding of the long hard road to speech that many cleft palate children will face. Leo continues to make slow and steady progress–he’s now using more two word sentences, but we know that speech therapy will be a part of our life for many years.
Leo is signing “water” in the picture to the right because these steps lead down to a lake. Signs still come easier to him than words. He will start using a sign as soon as I show him, and we all look up more ASL signs for him because he likes to be able to communicate. He knows many animal signs now, and we recently taught him dinosaur, dragon, and bear because he always points them out in books. His new favorite is “frog.” I found a shirt with a frog on it for him and he wants to wear it whenever it is clean. As soon as he sees it in the drawer he pulls it out and signs frog. He will point to it and sign frog throughout the day.
We have been trying to still make time for fun when we aren’t having yet another referral visit to the doctor. There are many parks, playgrounds, and museums in our new city. Leo loves playgrounds. In the fall, he found swings and slides scary. Now he will go down tall slides, loves to swing, and his brothers have taught him to climb up slides as well. His motor skills have improved tremendously from what they were a year ago. Leo does not appreciate nature hikes as much as the rest of the family. He reminds me of Gregory, who used to start saying “Can we go back to the van? I’m tired and hungry. My feet hurt!” about six feet down the hiking trail. As long as he is in the stroller, Leo is happy to be along for the ride. He can say “stroller” now and runs to the garage if he hears us mention it.
Leo has now been moved up to a big boy bed. We bought a bunk bed for him to share with Max. I wondered if he would be okay leaving the crib but he was extremely excited to sleep on the bottom bunk. He tossed his pillow and blanket up on the bed without a backward glance at the crib. He taps his chest (sign for Leo’s or mine) and say “bed . . . Max!” over and over again. He often says it as I’m tucking him in for the night. He adores Max and tries to wake him up first thing in the morning so that they can start having fun right away. I think the feeling is mutual because Max said “I really like being a big brother” and when I said that was convenient since he has three younger brothers, he replied “I really just meant a big brother to Leo.”
I don’t have much more to say. He’s still a happy, affectionate little guy! We’ve so blessed to have him in our family!
From this tippy little guy in the summer of 2012
Becoming a family in the early fall of 2013
And family for a full year in 2014!