Tuesday, January 21, 2014

A New Year. Leo's 2013 Wrap-Up!

November and December were absolutely the busiest months of 2013... weren't they?  Now that we're in agreement, it's time for Leo's 2013 Wrap-Up!

Backtracking just a little, Leo finished out October 2013 with a round of pneumonia.  This was pneumonia round 4 for him. It made mom feel like a bit of an expert on the symptoms and luckily it was caught early. After a full month of antibiotics, it was time for another big surgery (number 2).

On November 20th, Leo had a combo surgery (two different procedures). First, surgery to remove lingual tonsils (his palliative tonsils were removed at age 9 months), clear out any regrowth of adenoids (there was none, yahoo!), and a deep cleaning of his ear canals for tubes to function well. The second procedure was bilateral eye muscle surgery to correct exotropia. Due to his low muscle tone, Leo's eye muscles were not strong enough to focus properly. Surgery to correct this will keep him from losing function of his eyes and losing actual eyesight. Both procedures were a big success, both immediately and on follow-up. The lingual tonsil removal was supposed to be an easier recovery than his first tonsillectomy, or at least it is for most. Being the usual "exception" that he is, it was just as difficult for Leo the second time around. He refused food, even strictly pureed or ice cream, for a full 15 days!  He lost more than 10 percent of his body weight and looked pitiful. He also developed a respiratory infection right after surgery that led to the return of pneumonia (pneumonia round 5). Also in typical Leo fashion, he regained everything nicely and then some, and recovered well. 

Another highlight of November was the Thanksgiving celebration with families of those kids featured in the Down Syndrome Guild 2014 Calendar, hosted by Elvis Andrus of the Texas Rangers baseball team. We were extremely privileged to be a part of this special event! Let me just say what a caring, loving, and selfless person Elvis Andrus is.  He spoke about how he spent time giving and sharing with families of children with disabilities in his home country (Venezuela), and he wants to do the same for families here because he holds a special place in his heart for children with disabilities.  Over the summer, he gave of his time for a photo shoot for the DSG calendar and connected with the little lady that he posed with.  Because of that, he wanted to give more to the Down Syndrome Guild.  Not only did he put on a beautiful, catered event for our families, he also gave us a spectacular gift basket and our Thanksgiving turkey.  Without hesitation, I canceled my order with Tom Thumb (take note that Leo was less than a week post-op at this point!), and we savored our very first Kuby's smoked turkey.  I'm now completely spoiled, because it was one of the best turkeys I've ever had! 

Elvis donated $10,000 of his own money to the Guild.  How cool is that??

Another special part of the evening was the amount of time Elvis took to pose for photos and give autographs.  We, and especially our children, had his undivided attention for an evening. I loved seeing him carry on conversations with extreme patience, smile genuinely and hug freely. He impressed me. 

Leo was a Superstar on the news in Dallas that evening! 

Leo was only five days post-op for this event.  We made sure he had plenty of pain meds on board before going.  As you can see in his eyes, he was not himself. His eyes were still red from surgery and he just looked like he wasn't feeling well. He was such a little trooper, but the evening definitely had it's toll on him. By the time we left, he cried all the way home!  It was one hour and 15 minutes in traffic with a non-stop crying boy. Pitiful... but a memorable time. We are just glad he won't remember being in pain!

December was filled with Christmas parties, Santa, a trip to see Ice at the Gaylord, and fun times with family. We had a LOT of family time (as our teenager will testify!) over "Christmas Break".

On Christmas day, Leo even opened a few gifts on his own this year. He still had the attention span of a one year old though. Ha!  He really enjoyed having a lot of time to play with brother Seth over the break.

Don't let this picture below fool you... he did NOT enjoy the cold air at the Ice exhibit....

... and Santa was also questionable, but tolerable!

2013 went out with a bang when we celebrated Grandma Elsie's 100th birthday!  After ringing in the New Year at the Hampton Inn and Suites in Kerrville, Leo had a blast at her birthday party on New Year's Day.

We were blessed beyond measure this past year. Looking forward to a fresh start that brings new adventures. I hope you will continue to follow Leo on his journey, as we share the story of how he blesses our lives every day.

Happy 2014!

with love,


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