Category Archives: American Sign Language
I hope to share more formally about our adventures in communication with June, specifically the use of American Sign Language, verbal speech development, and her assistive communication device. However, for a few months I’ve been savoring some much needed rest and protecting a “margin” against over-busy-ness in my life and that of the kids, which has led to postponing blogging. This little scene was too enjoyable not to share though. This is a little of the linguistic fun we are having over at the Safari House:
The kids and I arrived at the speech therapy floor of the hospital for the last appointment slot of the day. Only one other family was there- a mother, father, a preschool-aged girl and an infant. My phone had died so I said to the father, “Could you tell me what time it is?” gauging his reaction to see if he understood English. When I saw his uncertain expression I signed TIME as I repeated my question, since pointing to your wrist is a pretty universal gesture.
“Ah, yes!” He said. “Four……forty five?” he said. I thanked him and we turned our attention to the kids, who were hoping to play together. Rowan invited the girl into the playhouse he and June occupied:
“Would you like to sit?” he said repeatedly to her.
The girl was uncertain as her father walked with her to the playhouse, whispering to her to say “hola.” I mentally dusted off my Spanish and attempted to translate Rowan’s question.
“Rowan, tell her ‘quieres sentar?'” I said.
“Um, can you tell her?” he replied. But the girl and her father were excited about this development nonetheless. In our short time together, we all proceeded to have a conversation of comical multi-lingual proportions.
“How…..she is old?” the father asked in English.
“Three years old in….” I attempted in Spanish. “Octobrie? Octiobray? Um, October.” I said.
June began signing in ASL about the family’s infant daughter, and I attempted to translate this into Spanish.
“She uses the language of the hands,” was my best try at saying ‘she signs’ in Spanish. I didn’t know the Spanish word for “bee” so my attempts to explain that June liked the bee on their child’s rattle were not fruitful.
To add to the fun, June pointed to a sign (as in a printed notice, not an ASL sign) on the play area that I had reviewed with her earlier.
“What does that say?” she signed (as in ASL sign not a printed notice) while I was speaking with the mother. The notice was written in both English and Spanish, and in hopes of including everyone in the conversation, I signed ASL while I read the English then signed the ASL again while trying to get the vowel sounds right in the Spanish.
At one point, June was admiring the infant’s pink shoes, and I hoped I learn the Spanish word for “pink.”
In Spanish I said, “How do you say…..these shoes are…..” and at this point I realized I forgot the Spanish word for “color” since the similar ‘calor’ means ‘hot’ so I signed COLOR in ASL which was not helpful at all. So I continued in Spanish, “like….red, orange, blue….” signing the words simultaneously for June.
“Oh,” the father said, pointing to the shoes. “Rosado.”
“Rosado is ‘pink’ in Spanish,” I said and signed for June.
When we parted, we adults said our farewells in Spanish with English words throw in, their little girl had warmed up to her new friends and held Miles’ face lovingly for several seconds as a goodbye, and June surprised us all by piping up with her ever-growing speech skills and saying in Spanish, “Adios!”
One of the things I am grateful for this holiday season is Signing Time, and how it made American Sign Language easily accessible to our family. We are over at the Signing Time blog today where we have the privilege of sharing about what a big impact Signing Time has had on our family. Follow the link below to read more:
Happy holidays, all!
One week ago, the kids and I ventured out to the polls for early voting. The “big kids” (my 5-year-old, Rowan and my 3-year-old, June) had decided who they would vote for, hypothetically, by watching snippets of the debates. This was our pre-voting conversation- June contributing in ASL.
Me: OK, guys, let’s go vote!
June: I’m scared of boats.
Me: Not boat. Vote. V-O-T-E. [I showed her the ASL sign VOTE see here.]
June: Vote, not boat, V-O-T-E. What’s vote?
Me: It’s where I pick who I want to be in our government.
June: Who you vote for?
Me: I’m voting for Hillary Clinton.
Rowan: I’m voting for the same person, the girl in the red shirt [in the first debate].
June: I vote for the moon and stars.
Me: That sounds good, June. The election is very important because the people who we elect make decisions about our whole country.
Rowan: Maybe our president will help Ms. Clinton.
Me: Probably, because our president and Ms. Clinton are in the same political party.
June: OOh! I go vote. See the party.
Me: It’s a different kind of party. Ok, let’s go vote!
June: I vote. Not boat. With talker in my backpack. [Her new AAC device to communicate with people verbally.]
The kids and I excitedly made our way to the early voting location, which was conveniently located at a church that we frequent for Deaf ministry events.
Me: Ok now, we gotta be quiet while we choose.
Me: So other people can make their choices too. What’s happening here is very important.
Me: Well, whoever wins will be president until you are nine years old. And we want to pick the people who will make the choices that we want them to.
June: I pick the stars and moon and water.
While explaining our voting experience to Greg, later–
Rowan: We picked Ms. Clinton! She’s our president now.
Me: No, actually, we don’t know who won yet. Everyone in the country gets to vote, then only one person wins.
Rowan: Why is that?
Me: Because our country only has one president, and everyone gets to vote for which person they want to win. On election day we’ll keep track of it on a big map and find out who the next president is.
Tomorrow is the big day!
Our post on this year’s curriculum choices is so belated that most homeschool bloggers are writing about how their first 6 or 9 weeks went. So I’ll just roll that info in here, too.
Last year, our approach was so informal that I put quotes around “homeschool curriculum” in the post title. Last year went wonderfully- the self-directed route was a great fit for both of the kids. This year I felt that, given the kids’ increased attention spans, budding spirit of cooperation and interest in learning, we could add a little more structure. So we have more formal curricula included this year, which we work on during a morning routine. We retained a lot of the self-directedness though, by using a self-paced workbox system and leaving the vast majority of the day unscheduled. Still, I had expected some resistance to the structure, but I was pleasantly surprised that the kids *love* it. They ask to do homeschool on the weekends. This is what we are up to:
What it is:
This curriculum establishes a broad base of knowledge, covering facts from history, geography, science, art, music, English, Latin and math each week. The “memory work” for the week is available on CD, and many key facts are incorporated into (good, catchy) songs. Key points from history are depicted on big, colorful “timeline cards,” and science likewise on science cards. Each week includes a science project, often from the book “Van Cleave’s 201 Awesome, Magical, Bizarre, and Incredible Experiments,” and an art or music project.
How this is going:
Won.der.ful.ly. Top reasons I love this curriculum:
- The broad base of knowledge the kids are exposed to is the perfect medium for inspiring self-directed learning.
- The kids fight over who gets to hold the timeline cards when we review them because they are fascinated by the pictures. Rowan says that ancient artifacts look like dinosaur fossils.
- The curriculum INCLUDES ASL ALREADY. The awesome Timeline Song that recites all 161 historical events from the timeline cards has accompanying ASL hand motions.
- Although we aren’t joining one this year, there are Classical Conversations communities all over the country that meet weekly, which makes it very easy to connect with other families who are learning the same thing. Being in a metro area, we have at least 6 communities within 15 miles of us, and the one we visited recently was amazing.
- As far as curricula go, it is very affordable. The items we invested in (and scored used copies) are designed to last through elementary and even into middle school years.
We’re sticking with parts of the Letter of the Week curriculum from Confessions of a Homeschooler including all of the morning routine (date, days of the week, weather, shape/number/letter of the week, Bible verse), preschool notebook pages, all of the coloring sheets of the week, and the neat Chicka Tree idea in which every Friday we post our letter of the week to our big tree. Both of the “big kids” know their ABCs already, but we use the coloring pages for fine motor practice and art, and we tie the letter of the week into June’s speech practice and Rowan’s writing/reading.
Rowan is using Explode the Code and BOB books to practice reading and writing. We both got used to the Explode the Code’s illustrations, so they aren’t causing frustration like last year.
We are using Life of Fred, a unique story-based exploration of math concepts. Rowan loves the stories, but the math concepts quickly became a little more complex than what we are looking for. So most weeks we keep Fred on hold and Greg and I make up word problems for the kids as we come across simple real-life math.
We were very fortunate to have a private ASL tutor for most of this year provided through Early Childhood Intervention. (I had to fight mightily for this, since June is not deaf, so any parents of non-verbal children who are seeking ASL support, I will be glad to pass on my experience and that of other parents who advised me.) Now that June turned 3 and is no longer in ECI, we are studying ASL independently through LifePrint’s courses at www.asl.tc, and staying involved in the local Deaf community. A good number of kids in the homeschool social group that we joined are learning ASL as well, so June has peers to sign with on play dates.
At three, June transitioned from ECI into the school district, which will provide speech services. Voice experts at our hospital say that the sounds June is making with her Passy-Muir speaking valve are made with her “false cords” only, not her vocal cords (which may be paralyzed). Still, they believe she should learn the mechanics of speech via therapy, despite the currently reliance on her false cords. Rowan is eager for June to be able to communicate verbally, since interpreting her signs often take several guesses, so he often coaches her to practice her speech. The school will also provide an augmentative communication device (a tablet with Proloquo2Go on it) eventually, which June can use to speak for her while she’s still learning to develop her speech.
Much of our learning is done outside of the house, whether it’s our neighborhood park or a museum downtown. Our homeschool social group has a dozen or more events per month that we can join. Also, local parks, libraries, museums, churches, businesses, schools, organizations, and neighborhoods offer a dizzying number of free events every month as well. And there are many paid options, too, especially as more gyms, dance studios, art classes, book stores, science labs etc are offering homeschool classes scheduled during weekdays.
At the very beginning of this year, I shared why I am so excited to “homeschool” this fall. I use the quotes because most of the time, “homeschool” with my almost-4-year-old son and almost-2-year-old daughter is woven into everyday playing and errand running rather than appearing more “school-like,” such as doing worksheets at a table. But sometimes we do worksheets and crafts at the table, too. And sometimes our sole goal is to make it through the day. But ideally, these are the skills and activities we are aiming for in a given week.
Our “curriculum” is a hodgepodge of different things. I started my planning with the Letter of the Week Curriculum from Confessions of a Homeschooler, which I’ll refer to as LOTW. It’s a great curriculum at an awesome price. It features one letter a week with accompanying blending ladders, a Bible verse, and optional Spanish language vocabulary, plus one shape and one color per month. However, the LOTW falls squarely in the middle of my kids’ current academic levels, as my son knows the content already but my daughter is not quite ready to tackle letters. But the crafts and activities are so cute, I decided to plug in and/or modify any LOTW activities I could into the content areas that are important to us. This is the list of categories we are working on this fall and what we are using for these subjects:
June does parts of the LOTW curriculum including an introduction to the letter in written, spoken, and ASL form and some large letter or coloring pages which don’t require advanced fine motor control. I don’t think she’s quite ready to learn the alphabet, but I think she’ll enjoy being introduced to the ASL alphabet concurrently since many of the ASL signs she knows already utilize the letter handshapes.
Rowan occasionally uses some of the letter crafts from LOTW which require more fine motor control, like lacing. Additionally, he has sight words on the felt board and letter discs to match to interesting words (both very cool activities from Confessions of a Homeschooler). At this point, we just want Rowan to have access to things he’s interested in, rather than dragging him down any specific path or timeline. And with access to our local BBBS resale sites and a big homeschool resale store, we can try out different things without investing a ton in each rescoure. Rowan is quite interested in letters and reading, but he *really* wants to do everything himself. He has maintained interest in the sight word felt board and letter discs, with game-like pieces that can be used independently. But engagement with the more directed, school-like activities have fizzled out very fast with him, including Teach Your Child to Read in 100 Easy Lessons (Bad fit for now! Maybe when he’s older), Bob books (I think he’ll like them once he can read them himself without prompting and supervision from us) and Explode the Code (The uncertainty of what word the drawing is representing greatly frustrated *me,* so we set that one aside for now). He can also complete lessons on ABC Mouse, but even in the guided lessons mode, the difficulty of the work seems to vary widely, and his engagement with it is hit and miss.
I separated actual reading from the “language arts” category above, which contains skills needed to read like letter recognition, letter sounds, phonics and blending. For “actual reading,” I strive to read to the kids each day, signing along with the book in June’s case and having Rowan read frequently occurring words or sound some out from the story. Thankfully, both kids love snuggling up with a book- with or without someone reading it to them!
Both kids can participate in these activities, which involve moving, balancing, and generally jumping around. The LOTW curriculum has a few activities and we also find fun ones on Toddler Approved like Alphabet Pillow Jumping and via Pinterest like Toddler Color Hop from Learn~Play~Imagine. But mostly the kids take care of this category all by themselves. They are forever climbing on furniture and building obstacle courses with the couch cushions.
*A few notes on this:
1. This is how the kids get their exercise when we’re cooped up for RSV season. Or when it’s too hot to go outside. Ok, anytime they’re bouncing off the walls but we can’t go out, really.
2. Yes, this is the usual state of my house currently. Unless it’s Monday. That’s pick-up-and-vacuum day.
3. That formless mass of energy is in fact Rowan. I think it captured him quite nicely.
4. June’s looking on like, “I got next.”
This is an area we emphasize with June because her history of prematurity, frequent hospital stays and her mild hypotonia all impede her natural process of learning these skills, somewhat. Even with all of these factors, she does very well in this area. So mainly we try to offer a variety of activities to keep her practicing. LOTW includes tracing, cutting, and prewriting practice sheets which I sometimes provide to June, but they are a little advanced for her. Mostly, we provide dry erase surfaces or regular coloring activities for her to practice holding markers and crayons, and we get the felt board out with felt shapes of different sizes for June to play with. Much of the fine motor practice occurs naturally with household objects like picking up small toys, coins, and stickers, using latches and buttons on educational toys, and building with blocks. Signing is also a huge fine motor work out. We always model the correct execution of signs, and occasionally we focus on correcting June’s handshape or placement when we feel that she might be ready to perform a certain sign more correctly. I anticipate that her interest in the ASL alphabet will propel both her signing accuracy and fine motor skills forward this fall.
For Rowan we replaced the LOTW letter writing activities with a dry erase handwriting pack (Lets Get Ready for School Activity Pack: Letters) and making our own word tracing worksheets which Rowan chooses the content for (translation: he’s tracing dinosaur names). Rowan also gets much more than his daily quota of fine motor practice in by playing with Legos.
Both of the kids are naturally interested in these activities, so we make various options available around the house including puzzles (toddler for June and preschool for Rowan), blocks and Legos. We try to point out or make patterns in every day play. Occasionally I also try to get the kids interested in the mazes and object hunt activities in their kid magazines- without much success; here again, self-directed activities are WAY more fruitful than mom-directed ones.
Because she cannot vocalize with the trach currently, American Sign Language is June’s only mode for expressive communication. We play at least one Signing Time episode in the background during playtime every day. Usually several. The kids love it , and they know more than half of the signs in the series already. As part of our morning routine when we update the board with the day of the week, we sign the days of the week, numbers up to the current day, and review the signs for colors with the Rainbow Song from Signing Time. Greg and I are really striving to sign concurrently when we talk throughout the day, but that is challenging because true ASL is not a word-for-word translation of spoken English; even the basic sentence structure differs between the two. But we always sign when communicating in basic sentences with June and when reading to her.
Art and Music
Art activities occur naturally around our house as well, and as part of the other learning categories. Rowan likes to excavate dinosaur toys from playdough. June likes to write with anything, on anything right now. My written objective is to do letter, shape, and color crafts along with our current LOTW curriculum, but those are good intentions that just don’t happen, especially since the kids are self-directed in this area anyway.
For music, we listen primarily to Dinosaur Train and Jurassic Park (Rowan’s picks), Signing Time songs (June’s picks) and pop music (my picks) on my iPhone, YouTube or the radio. Listening naturally develops into recognizing the rhythm, notes, and new vocabulary (English and ASL). I’m always on the lookout for NON-ANNOYING educational songs on YouTube that the kids like. Current favorites are StoryBots, Signing Time/Rachel and the Treeschoolers, and Coilbook.
We opted not to use the LOTW curriculum for counting activities because I felt we had ample opportunities to count during the day without printing many-paged activities out specifically for that purpose. For June, we often count up to 5, like counting the medicine syringes she’s receiving (#medicallycomplexlife) and for Rowan, we often count up to 20 by counting up to the date, estimating the number of crackers etc we pour, and talking through simple addition and subtraction word problems that come up during the day. We also have a Let’s Get Ready for School Activity Pack for numbers, but I don’t plan to use that until a later date when we venture into written math problems.
This is everyone’s favorite. I try to do one simple science experiment a week that we improvise, like vinegar and baking soda variations, freezing stuff, or our weight capacity of boxes experiment, or experiments that stumble upon online, like Magic Milk from Lemon and Lime Adventures, DIY Dino Excavation Kits from Live, Craft, Love, or the Solar System Scale Model with toilet paper from Adventures in Learning. Baking and cooking fall under this category, too, because any homeschool activity that results in chocolate for me is a winner.
We have to stay away from crowds and close contact with kids during the winter time due to June’s susceptibility to respiratory viruses, particularly RSV. We also remain sheltered when June has a critical procedure coming up. But whenever possible, we make up for lost time and jump on [economical] opportunities to learn “in the field” whether it’s nature observations at the park, community/holiday events, free museum days and discounted family memberships to a favorite spot (“the dinosaur museum” and the zoo). So much learning occurs naturally as we encounter the unexpected on these outings, like when we happened upon a giant iguana (with its baby sitter) sunbathing on the steps outside the Natural Science museum. The kids are so curious and observant at this age, even trips to the grocery store are educational, as they ask about people they see, our food choices and how money works.
Those are our goals this fall! We think of this list more like a flexible guide to our intentions rather than a to-do checklist. Life gets very busy at the Safari House, but thankfully, many of these objectives are accomplished through natural play. In fact, with a newborn on the way in early September, I’m certain that in upcoming weeks those “naturally occurring” objectives are the only ones which will get done. That’s totally okay. Forecasts predict a season of Legos and couch slides in the future.
Here it is, the Hospital Playlist Top 10 that I mentioned when complaining about the insufficiency of Christian music several posts back. I’ll post another list exclusively of “Christian” songs that deserve recognition since not many can edge out the ‘not-specifically-Christian’ competitors below. This isn’t a collection of my favorite songs; typically I listen to lighter songs with guitar and thoughtful lyrics. But this doesn’t do for hospital stays. Something about the mood, beat or lyrics of this assorted list meshes well with the hospital life:
In no particular order:
The Show Goes On- Lupe Fiasco
What I like about it: Determination, overcoming hardship. The hospital stay inspires reflection on your life as a whole, so I identify with these themes not just in light of June’s health but in light of the rocky parts of my history as well.
Lyrics Highlight: Anybody ever wonder, when they would see the sun up
Just remember when you come up
The show goes on
Along These Same Lines: Lighters- Bad Meets Evil feat Bruno Mars
Little Talks- Of Monsters and Men
What I Like About It: I like the folksy trend seeping into the pop music scene in this band and ones like Mumford and Sons. I love to hear the variety of instruments used to create a multilayered sound and rhythm.
Lyrics Highlight: Although the truth may vary,
This ship will carry our bodies safe to shore
Along These Same Lines: All Right- Fun
Remind Me Who I Am- Jason Gray
What I Like About It: I love Jason Gray. My favorite song of his is actually “Without Running Away,” and it will be featured on the upcoming Christian list. But that song doesn’t speak specifically to my hospital stay self. This one is a good, simple refocusing song for when my focus is all over the place during the hospital chaos.
Lyrics Highlight:In the loneliest places,
When I can’t remember what grace is.
Tell me once again who I am to You,
Who I am to You.
Along These Same Lines: 10,0000 Reasons- Matt Redmon
21 Guns- Green Day
What I Like About It: Emotion on a grand scale; something about how it’s composed makes it sound epic, like listening to a weighty piece of literature in a 3 minute song format. A few songs I’ve highlighted here, including this one, have been called “rock ballads;” maybe that’s the name for what I’m trying to describe.
Lyrics Highlight: One, 21 guns
Lay down your arms
Give up the fight
Along These Same Lines: Sail- AWOLNATION
Thrift Shop- Macklemore
What I Like About It: I love Macklemore. He’s talented musically, he takes on daring topics counter to his own genre’s culture, and he openly shares his journey toward sobriety. And often his songs are equal parts juvenile, unique and entertaining.
Lyrics Highlight: They be like, “Oh, that Gucci – that’s hella tight.”
I’m like, “Yo – that’s fifty dollars for a T-shirt.”
Limited edition, let’s do some simple addition
Fifty dollars for a T-shirt – that’s just some ignorant shit
I call that getting swindled and pimped
I call that getting tricked by a business
That shirt’s hella dough
And having the same one as six other people in this club is a hella don’t
Along These Same Lines: Can’t Hold Us- Macklemore
Southern Hospitality (“Cadillac Grills”)- Ludacris
What I Like About It: Unapologetic grandiosity, aggression. This is one of my favorite songs for hospital stays, and I do realize that blasting these misogynistic lyrics and explicit sex and drug references from my oversized mommy-Prius with a Citizen’s Police Academy license plate frame on the back creates quite a spectacle. But having a child in the ICU turns you into a walking adrenaline gland. Your senses stay heightened, whether you’re at the bedside or in line at McDonalds. You are in protection mode and can deftly handle any crisis, anytime. You’re also aware of often being underestimated, and you’re quick to sense others’ attempts to dismiss, overlook, or neglect you or your child. Your “JUST TRY ME” stare is always close at hand. You’ll throw some ‘bows if need be.
Lyrics Highlight: Throw them ‘bows
Liquor Store Blues- Bruno Mars
What I Like About It: The bluesy feel contrasted with the faster-than-blues pace and rhythym of the lyrics.
Lyrics Highlight: Standing at this liquor store
Whiskey comin through my pores
Feelin like I run this whole block
Along These Same Lines (marginally?): One Song Glory- Rent Soundtrack
Let Her Go- Passenger
What I Like About It: This is the only slow song that makes the cut here, but the lyrics are beautiful and reflective without being sappy or sad. It goes with a certain emotionally charged, pensive mood that the hospital brings about. See their other song linked below for the polar opposite- a light hearted, somewhat crude pub song.
Lyrics Highlight:You only need the light when it’s burning low
Only miss the sun when it starts to snow
Only know you love her when you let her go
Along These Same Lines: I Hate- Passenger
Shake It Off- Taylor Swift
What I Like About It: I know this is overplayed, but I haven’t gotten tired of it. I like the message, and I’m impressed with her seeming authenticity as an artist. This is also one of my favorite songs to watch as a sign language interpretation.
Lyrics Highlight: It’s like I’ve got this music in my mind
Sayin it’s gonna be alright
Along These Same Lines: All About That Bass- Meghan Trainor
Cruise- Florida Georgia Line
What I Like About It: It’s a “country crossover” song so it has a unique sound. It’s mostly about driving, something I love and I’m usually doing when I listen to music so it’s an enjoyable commute soundtrack.
Lyrics Highlight: In this brand new Chevy with a lift kit
Would look a helluva lot better with you up in it
[I had to ask a true country person- an Aggie 😉 – what this lyric was because it sounded like lift kick to me, so I always laugh at myself here]
Along These Same Lines: California 37- Train
Tomorrow marks one month that June has been in the hospital, and we had originally planned on just a 4-day stay. To recap, the various reasons the stay has lengthened include the switch from the two-stage LTR that was planned to the one-stage version, difficulty extubating after the LTR, which led to the need for a new trach to be placed, and most recently, June’s difficulty eating after the surgeries necessitated getting a gastronomy-button (g-button) and Nissen fundoplication. Hospitalizations are always a wild ride for us.
During the hospitalization, I’ve been staying at June’s bedside during the week, and Greg has been working and caring for Rowan with help from family. On the weekend, we switch, and Greg stays with June while I hang with little dude Rowan. This is the first hospitalization that we’ve been able to switch off at the bedside because previously I was still nursing June. It’s so nice to have this flexibility! But it’s far from the ideal of having everyone at home. I’ve gathered several amusing quotes from the kids recently which note ways in which Greg was particularly missed in the situation at hand. Some things are simply a job for Dada.
Out of nowhere in the car, Rowan formulated a manufacturing business plan that I know Greg- proud Papa and engineer- would have loved to ask him more about:
R (holding the new T-rex model he saved up for): Do we have model stuff at home?
Me: To make dinosaur models?
Me: No, we don’t. It takes big machines to make dinosaurs.
R: It’s ok, we’ll just buy a big machine.
Me: Well it takes a lot of money, so what if we just buy a model that someone else made with their machine?
R: No, models cost $25. I need my own dinosaur pressing machine. Is dinosaur rubber expensive?
R: I want to buy expensive things but not use much money.
(Welcome to Capitalism 101, bud!)
At bedtime Rowan was scared by loud thunder.
Me: Do you know what thunder is?
Me: Yes, well lightning is electricity and thunder is the sound.
R: And can electricity go in water if lightning hits it?
Me: Yes, it can zap you if you’re in water.
Me: That’s just how electricity works. Would you like Daddy to teach you more about it?
R: I want you to teach me more about it.
Me: Well, I didn’t learn very much about electricity in school, but Daddy studied it a lot.
R: Did Daddy have more school than you?
(I briefly discussed how Greg and I have the same amount of schooling- a lot- but Greg needed to learn about electricity to be an engineer and I didn’t need to in order to counsel people. And I made yet another mental note to learn some basic physics.)
Also on the topic of science, this came up in the car randomly:
Rowan: Why did the forest catch on fire in Walking With Dinosaurs?
Me: Lightning hit it, and lightning has energy in it that made the fire.
R: Is it the same energy that’s in our muscles?
Me: Kind of. The energy in lightning is electricity, and the energy in our muscles is from glucose, sugar. [I’m questioning my answers as I say them at this point]
R: And why does fire eat everything?
Me: That’s just how it works…let’s ask Daddy….
I am expecting our third kiddo in September, and Rowan insists that he is growing babies, too. His 10 dinosaur babies will be born in September as well. While I was driving home from the hospital recently, Rowan surveyed the back seat of the Prius and asked,
“Where will all of the car seats go?”
Me: Your baby brother’s seat will go right between you and June. Does that sound ok?
R: What about my 10 dinosaur babies?
Me: Hm, there’s no more space in that seat. What should we do? Are their car seats small?
R: Yes. Me and Daddy will have to build 10 more car seats. They can go in the back where the dogs sit.
At the hospital, volunteers brought the toy cart to our room, and June got a Rubik’s cube. I put it slightly off center and handed it to her.
She looked up from it and signed “Dada.”
(It’s true, Greg is the Rubik’s cube expert in our house.)
I was just napping with June in the hospital bed and she woke up before me. She signed all about wanting to listen to the voicemail Daddy had left for her. So I played it about 5 times, but I was so tired I fell asleep between each 45 second playing, and June had to wake me up again each time. Finally losing patience, June signed “want” “you” “me” “stand up.” She proceeded to stand up, emphatically signed “you,” and towered over me in the bed indignantly with all of her 2.5-foot-tall height until I sat up.
And other gems from this month:
While waiting for surgery, June wanted to put on some of her real clothes over the hospital gown. June seems to have inherited a fashion gene that skipped a generation in Greg and me. After helping her dress, I asked June excitedly-
“Are you wearing a beautiful shirt?”
She replied quite seriously in sign language: “And shoes.”
Later she kept pointing to her pile of clothes signing “hat” even though there weren’t any hats there. Clearly she felt her ensemble was not complete.
June loves shoes. She insisted on wearing some into surgery, excitedly signing to the surgical team all about her shoes during the transfer down to the OR. The team kindly waited until she was under anasthesia to take them off.
Several staff have joked with June, asking if they can have her shoes. She answers matter-of-factly in sign, “You have your shoes.”
While he was waiting to visit June in the hospital, a kind stranger asked Rowan about his prized T-rex that he bought at the dinosaur museum recently. After roaring and playing pretend with Rowan, the stranger remarked,
“What a neat dinosaur you have!!”
Rowan stopped in his tracks and replied, “This is a *model* of a dinosaur.”
Driving home from the hospital one day, Rowan asked:
“Are we going in the direction of home?”
Me: Yes, we live northwest of here, so right now we are driving ‘north.’
R: And is this the road the snow comes down?
Me: Um, no, we don’t get much snow here. Why were you thinking there might be snow though?
R: Because there’s snow at the North Pole.
Me: Oh, well we’re only going a little bit north. Not to the North Pole.