Category Archives: Blogging

The Accidental Sabbath: Plans for 2017

accidental-sabbath

The last third of the year can become unenjoyably busy for our family very easily, with ten family birthdays and our anniversary sprinkled in among the bustle of Halloween, Thanksgiving and Christmas.  So in 2016 Greg and I resolved to designate one day from each weekend in October, November and December as an “at home only” day: no outings, no plans, no chores and no to-do list.  We called it a family Sabbath, although we first instituted this for practical reasons and our own comfort rather than as an effort to obey the religious guidelines of Sabbath keeping.

When we first decided to implement this in October, I breathed a sigh of relief, knowing that we would benefit so much from the rest this boundary around our schedule would afford us.  There was one problem though. The only date that worked well for Rowan and June’s joint birthday party fell on the same weekend that the huge Lego tour would be in town. The Lego event that Rowan has been asking to return to since he saw it the last time it came to town two years ago.  The one I had been excited to take the kids to for months.

We looked at three different scenarios: attending an abbreviated weeknight Lego session, packing the Lego fest in on the same day as our at-home birthday party, or breaking our Sabbath guidelines and attending the beloved Lego event on the second day of that weekend.  We decided to break our new rule and go to the event on the second day of the weekend. After all, we made the rule so that we could enjoy the holiday season more fully, and we knew we would all enjoy the Lego fun. This never sat right with me though.  In seasons past when our busy-ness sapped our strength and joy, our schedule was (over) filled with fun, enjoyable things- no drudgery; yet the pace still wore on us. So I sensed that breaking our Sabbath boundary to avoid missing out on something fun and enjoyable was not going to work at all.  I knew that every single weekend during this festival-and-party season, the prospect of something fun, memorable, important or educational would beckon to us, asking to be dropped into that emptied Sabbath calendar square.  Still, I persisted.  I told myself, “We’ll go to the Lego fest this one time, then that’s it- we’ll protect a Sabbath day each week through the end of the year.”

Two days before the big weekend, I went online to secure tickets.  I had delayed, at first, because we were throwing around our scheduling options, and next due to reluctance mixed with a delusional belief that the less popular time slots wouldn’t sell out.  In reality, all of the time slots for this hugely popular, once-every-two-years event sold out long before I got around to checking on tickets.  So we didn’t go.  After the excitement of their birthday party, the kids never even asked about the Lego event that weekend.  They still haven’t- it just hasn’t come to mind. While I’m sure the event would have been a blast, I was surprised that there really was no sting in missing it.  And we had a very restorative day at home instead.

That first experience illustrated to us the immense value of rest, and it revealed that the one obstacle that most often robs us of rest- the fear of missing out- is actually not a very formidable foe; it turns out that the thing we feared- the phantom prospect of missing out on something- never materialized at all.  True, we did not attend the Lego event.  But during our peaceful unplanned day spent at home, we did not miss it either.

This is how we started to implement the principles of Sabbath as a family.  We continued this practice of keeping one weekend day clear for the rest of the year.  We have enjoyed it so much that we are going to continue it indefinitely.

A quick look back:

Unbeknownst to me, this Sabbath idea was percolating at the beginning of 2016.  Last year began with a post about The Big Rocks: Self-Care for Care Givers, which describes prioritizing items in your schedule which are of the most value to you, then fitting in less important or unimportant tasks around those big rocks. It seems as though the rest of last year was a slow, progressive implementation of that post as our family pared down our schedules and our possessions.  That was providential because 2016 was indescribably stressful for me, with so many people, opinions and mistakes thrown into our well-established routine via the Medicaid hoops, nursing SNAFUs, invasion of our introvert sanctuary, the start and shuffling of twice-a-week therapies, the transition from ECI to the school system and ongoing nursing and Medicaid difficulties. This “Big Rocks” process of purposefully stewarding our time and energy protected my sanity last year.  At the same time, I was completing an intensive spiritual discipleship program through our church which introduced me to the works of CS Lewis and other gifted Christian and Jewish theologians.  As I studied, the themes of prioritizing my time and resources and seeking rest stood out to me, given my stress.  Naturally this led to the study of the Sabbath, with is prominent in the Jewish theology I ventured into, and which is the subject of the Bible study I ultimately finished the year on (Priscilla Shirer’s Breathe).

A look ahead:

As I mentioned in the last post, however, this attention to rest and Sabbath results in less blogging.  Or no blogging.  So, while I have many topics and resources I would love to share, posts in 2017 may be sporatic.  If you ever wish to check-in with us or ask a question, feel free to use the Contact button on the blog.   We don’t expect any big medical changes for June this year, since she recently got her g-button out (WOOHOO), and her doctors want her trachea to grow for another year before re-evaluating options for another attempt at removing the trach.  However, Greg is hoping to transition into a new professional field this year, so we are waiting to see what new adventure his school and career opportunities will bring to us as a family, in terms of our routine and location.

We are quite excited about the year ahead.

 

Advertisements

Adventures in Communication

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:

adventures-in-communication

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!”

Coming Soon

Coming Soon

There has been a flurry of activity here in the Safari Household recently as we transition from our dino-mite summer back into our typical routine.  Several posts are vying for very scarce editorial attention, and which one will triumph first is anyone’s guess.  So in the meantime, I thought I’d share the topics of these posts which I hope to cover soon:

  • Leaving Facebook- I left FB “for real,” as in deleted my personal account.  I deactivated the FB page for this blog in the process, but you can still follow Yes This I Know on Twitter, Pinterest, RSS and by email.
  • Continuation of the Nursing Saga- I reached my limit with dreading the nursing visits, and we “let one of our nurses go.”  ***Joyously singing the Frozen song now***   Meaning I now only deal with one nurse visit per week.
  • Crazy Heart Block Quilt– I am both thrilled and surprised that I finished this recently, just over a year after starting it while June was in the PICU recovering from her LTR (The project does not require anywhere near a year to complete; I say I’m surprised because I usually have to caplitalize on momentum to finish a big sewing project, and there’s just no momentum to be had on personal projects while parenting 3 kids under 5.)
  • Special Needs Family Outings series- several posts about our travels and special needs travel decisions in general
  • Reading- I’ve been in reading hyperdrive this year as a lot of varied topics have been important or intriguing to me, and unexpected connections seem to arise often between subjects or to ideas I’m mulling over at the time
  • Homeschool Curriculum 2016-2017- homeschool planning posts are always exciting!

….and a couple of stragglers that might escape the drafts box onto the blog eventually.  Maybe even a Quotes of the Day.

Updates and Free Printable for Parents!

A few updates:

♥  I am officially the mother of three kids under 4 years old.  I know because I now own a minivan.

Meet our newest sweetie, Miles.

Welcome Miles

The delivery went as planned, although I had a brief scare when he needed some oxygen after birth.  The medical team assured us this was a routine occurrence for c-section babies, as their lungs need some help drying out.  As promised, the doctors deemed him perfectly healthy after a brief visit (not admission) to the NICU for oxygen, and he was able to room in with me from then on as I had hoped.  We were even discharged from the hospital early!  After two days inpatient, I asked the attending when I could bust outta that place, and she said, “You and the baby seem to be doing fine- I’ll draw up the paperwork now!” It’s still amazing to me.  An uncomplicated hospital stay is such an odd experience.

My surprise escape from the hospital threw off my hubby’s secret plans to buy me a car while I was inpatient!  When I was texting him to arrange to be picked up, he was negotiating with the car dealership with the two older children in tow.  The car was not ready in time to pick me up, as he had hoped. But that meant I was able to accompany him on an extended test drive before the purchase, and I received my roomy, versatile, swiss-army-knife-of-vans (the Odyssey) later that week.

♥ I am still not used to having a typical newborn.

When I’m feeding Miles, I often check to see if I’m occluding his trach, only to remember he doesn’t have one.  I can’t imagine growing tired of hearing him cry, whimper, and “talk.”  I sometimes wish I could vent gas from his belly via a g-button.  When I bring him somewhere and I don’t need to carry a suction machine, resuscitation equipment or back-up medical supplies, I always feel like I’m forgetting something.  And I totally did feel like a nurse was going to chase after us when we left the hospital with him.

♥ Delayed nesting makes for strange priorities

When June was born, I wrote about being in a perpetual state of nesting before her birth as well as while she was in the NICU for months.  With Miles, I delayed nesting until after his birth, for the most part; I never took my estimated due date or his homecoming as a guarantee.  Now that we are home, nesting is happening in full force, leading to some strange decisions about how to spend my time.  Did I finally move the dozen boxes of diapers that have been stacked in the living room for over a month?  No.  I just grab a pack every time I run out at Mile’s changing table. However, I suddenly felt I MUST finish constructing the Indominus Rex puppet that I drafted for Rowan a while ago.  (Ok, so, on the scale of “first attempts at making a hand puppet” and “things drafted by hand from scratch,” it’s pretty awesome.  On the scale of puppets in general, it’s a little clumsy and misshapen.  The kids love it though.)

IMG_9570

Also inexplicably high on my list: wiping down all of the kitchen cabinets and baseboards.  And working in the garden that I created in May and did not tend all summer. Thank goodness for the automatic garden sprinkler that came with the house. This is also my first attempt at gardening, and honestly…..I don’t know which plants are weeds and which are food.  I forgot WHAT I planted and where.  There weren’t many survivors.   Except for these.  I know these are carrots.  That I grew.

IMG_9648

♥ A special needs sewing and DIY series is coming up!

Stay tuned.

♥ And now a printable! Laminate these “baby sleeping” door signs and never be bothered by a door-to-door salesman again.

I’ve used a hand-written sign like this for years, and I’ve finally got around to making a printable version.  It works wonders.  No more dogs going insane over a knock from FedEx or pushy electricity company reps or mysterious religious missionaries. Put one on the door as well as on the doorbell.  I recommend that you cut the signs out first BEFORE laminating, then leave a quarter- or half-inch border of lamination around the sign when cutting it out again after laminating. This will make it more waterproof than if you laminate the whole page and then cut the sign out, as the lamination pouch makes a better seal to itself than it does when there is a layer of paper inside.

See the free JPG and PDF versions of the printable below.

Baby Do Not Disturb Sign JPG

Baby Do Not Disturb Sign PDF

 

Post-Hospital Haze II

We are finally emerging from the post-hospital haze, which is similar in almost every respect to the post-hospital haze from last year; it occurred during the same months, I went through the same cleaning rituals- mostly gutting the fridge and vacuuming dog hair- I FINALLY saw friends, and I’m working on reading a Brandon Sanderson book.  Well, I’m reading like 7 books but a Sanderson novel is in the stack.  I even delved into the accumulated DME supplies with intentions to write a post about them soon. Added to the mix this time though:

Adventures in g-buttons 

June got a gastronomy button during her hospitalization, and there’s been a learning curve involved for Greg and me.  They say don’t cry over spilled milk.  Well, what if the milk is spilled several times a day throughout your house and onto your toddler’s and your own 3rd, 4th, and 5th outfits for the day, and onto furniture and sheets, for several weeks and it attracts ants- a different species in each room actually- and THEN your steam cleaner AND your washing machine both break?  Cry then?  Well, I didn’t cry.  But I did harass hubby with play-by-play texts every day and then hand the children and the house off to him the millisecond he arrived home all of this week.

Adventures in hyperdrive

After a hospitalization, all of the normal elements of life are multiplied by a factor of 2, 3, 6, or 10…  The kids want to catch up on missed parental attention.  Medical bills and filing tasks have piled up. Lots of specialist check-ups have to happen after the hospital stay- especially because June had had so many med and surgery changes at once and she’s having some unexplained tachycardia.

Tachycardia Plse Ox

211 is her heart rate here. Ya that’s 100 points too high.

New prescriptions and new DME orders need corrected and followed up on.  New reactions to these new prescriptions and DME orders need corrected and followed up on (see above on g-buttons and a 211 heart rate).  And after each visit, phone calls must be made to keep the whole medical team (doctors, nurses, home therapy, schedulers, DME, insurance) in the loop.  Random house/life things have accumulated, like chasing down a lost insurance check to replace our roof, realizing the car inspections are expired, and troubleshooting brown patches in the yard before we get an HOA letter.  Also, Rowan has discovered video games via Lego Jurassic Park played on the computer.  And in true gamer fashion, he’s broken a controller in frustration and is breaking my keyboard key. by. key. Right now I have no zero button and no [letter missing from the word btton] btton.  I’m actally typing everything withot that letter and then atocorrecting.  Its tremendos fn.

Adventures in pregnancy

This pregnancy has flown by with no complications.  I’ve been too busy to think much about being pregnant aside from taking my prenatal pills and limiting my caffeine.  There were no weekly “what sized fruit is the baby!” tracking and no monthly belly photos.  I was, however, quite aware of and anxious about passing the points in pregnancy at which June was diagnosed with tachycardia (30 weeks) and when June was delivered early (34w 3d).  Both mile markers passed without incident, and I’m relieved. But now at 35w 4d  I’m acutely aware of the fact that I’ve only been this hugely and uncomfortably pregnant once, and I was on bedrest at the time with no children at home.  I’m tired.  My belly keeps knocking things over.  This baby is doing gymnastics constantly.  The heartburn is no fun.  Strangers look at me warily like I’m a ticking bomb. And this is the first time ever that I haven’t had a weekly look at my baby in the third trimester; because of my swelling and blood pressure issues with Rowan, I got a biophysical profile ultrasound and non-stress test every 4 days toward the end, and with June (who never made it this far in pregnancy) I had a weekly fetal echo cardiogram AND ultrasound.  In my experience, having an uncomplicated pregnancy is the anomaly.  It is an odd experience.

upcoming posts?

I have 11 posts drafted (incomplete and not scheduled) and two additional to add.  I have lots of good intentions. Lots of ideas.  HOWEVER, I will be very impressed with myself if I post again before the baby arrives.  See above.

Dinosaur and Pteranodon Quilt Finished!

Just a quick update to celebrate the completion of the Dinosaur and Pteranodon Quilt for Rowan! Like many things- laundry, cooking, sleeping in a real bed, and finishing the multiple blog posts that I have alluded to recently- finishing the quilt has been on hold since I’m staying at the hospital with June.  I finished all of the hand quilting around the applique dinosaurs (and pteranodons) while at the hospital, but I wanted to machine bind it for better durability.  My son has been asking to sleep with this quilt for weeks, so it was on the top of my at-home to-do list this weekend while Greg is manning my post at June’s bedside.

Of course, I couldn’t find my good camera to take a better photo, so this will have to do.  Also featured is part of an actual dinosaur model that Rowan made from play bricks.  I thought it would be too ironic if, for the sake of photographing my gift to Rowan, I were to dismantle the masterpiece made by the intended recipient of said gift. Thus, the blurry iPhone photo of the long-awaited dinosaur quilt, photo bombed by a toy dinosaur:

Dinosaur and Pteranodon Quilt

The Special Needs Commute, or The Problem of Awkward Conversation 

Special Needs Commute

One difficult aspect of being the parent of a special needs or medically complex child is that often you can’t join in the casual camaraderie of the “you know how it is…”  conversation with other parents. A typical scene might proceed like:

Parent one: I just don’t know what to do about all that drool.  She’s teething, so, you know…

Parent two: Yes! Ugh. Well right now we’re starting on potty training, and you know how that goes.

Special Needs Parent: True!  I’ll be right there with you on potty training once my daughter is out of the hospital, but you know how it is waiting for your kid to be off narcotics and paralytics, amiright?

<blank stares>

Please don’t misunderstand my meaning here- I am not trivializing the more everyday concerns of parenting.  Rather I’m illustrating that engaging authentically in casual conversation as a special needs parent is like being the oddball in a comedy sketch who throws out non sequiturs and unexpected extremes that just don’t fit the tone of the exchange.  You are perpetually Steve Carell.

Understandably, most people don’t have that shared experience to draw on, so the nod or the empathetic “mmmmmhm,” can’t follow, and the momentum of the conversation is gone.  Usually people are very kind in this situation and offer an encouraging comment or ask to learn more about my circumstances.  These are appropriate, sweet responses, and my family and I feel blessed and valued by these exchanges.  Nevertheless, that air of relaxed comraderie dissipates, and a shift is made into a more formal and/or weighty discussion.

For me, missing the opportunity to have a casual conversation about what actually happened in my day is one of the biggest unexpected challenges of being a special needs mom.  In these conversations, I know that I can either avoid mentioning the medical parts of my day and maintain that casual atmosphere, or I can share my experience but expect to shift from being a “relaxed peer” into being an educator and grateful-recipient-of-concern.  Again, I *am* truly grateful for the interest and concern others have shown us.  And I actually love sharing our experience and educating when I can; it’s a big reason why I write here.  But sometimes, I just want to be able to chat casually over coffee.

To make an analogy, medical situations (doc visits, medicines, hospital stays, machines, daily trach care) are part of my everyday life much like how a daily traffic commute is part of many peoples’ lives where I live.  Both are necessary inconveniences. Both are worse some days than others.  And just as commuters accept traffic as a given, medical situations are a normal part of my day. And like traffic woes, it’s comforting to share a passing comment about the daily grind with others.

Imagine that, as a commuter, you sit down to have coffee with a friend.  You share a casual comment on your daily commute, except the person receiving it has no experience with traffic at all.

Commuter: Ooh, took me an extra 25 minutes to get in this morning. I need some coffee!

Friend: WHAT!! Are you serious??

Commuter: Yeah I think there was, a stall or something?  Anyway which one is decaf here…

Friend: You have to sit in your car that long EVERY DAY?

Commuter: Yeah…it’s not so bad. That’s traffic. Do they have a vanilla hazelnut now….?

Friend: Omigod you shouldn’t have to do that!! [Staccato questions about whether you could avoid this unbelievably odd burden of ‘traffic’ by doing xyz….]

Commuter: …I just wanted some coffee.

It’s unavoidable, really, because the reality is most people are completely unfamiliar with special needs parents’ “daily commute.” What we experience as normal is extreme and unusual to most other people. And that empathetic but casual tone of conversation that is so enjoyable is usually dependent on the participants having a shared experience in common.  That’s why special needs websites, forums, Facebook groups and support meetings flourish- these are places that special needs parents can talk about the details of their day as casually as others discuss traffic; sometimes even humorously. A typical scene might go like this:

Special Needs Parent 1: The other day I had to do an emergency trach change on the concrete outside of Target.

Special Needs Parent 2: Wow, that sucks.

Special Needs Parent 1: Yeah, and I got an Icee stain souvenir on my pants.

[they laugh and continue drinking coffee]

Maybe the commute analogy could be a useful awkward-conversation-converter, and I could let friends and family in on “the code…” The next time I want to make an offhand comment about my unusual-but-normal-to-me day, I could try remarking, “How ’bout that traffic, eh?”

Hi there

Just a hello to say I’ll be back to blogging soon.  I’ve got more post ideas than I have time.  During my absence we’ve weathered a bad 2-week upper respiratory infection in June complete with an all-nighter in the ER, handled an unexpected week off from Rowan’s preschool due to fire damage at the building (an act of arson which did not occur during school hours thankfully), and our roof sustained significant damage due to a freak storm of golf ball sized hail.  So, we’re pretty much just waiting on the plague of locusts at this point…

The hail storm filling very-recently-sunny skies:

No, really, it’s been eventful but quite manageable.  I have even found time to grow this new baby up to the half way point without any medical surprises whatsoever, and I’m finishing Rowan’s dinosaur quilt!

IMG_7627

Well, his “mostly dinosaur” quilt I should say after this conversation with my three year old today:

Me, stretching the quilt out flat: “Look, Rowan, your quilt is almost done!!”

Rowan: “I wanted only a dinosaur quilt.”

Me: “It is, it’s got tons of dinosaurs!”

Rowan: “It has pteranodons.”

Me: “Yeah, those are dinosaurs, right!”

Rowan: “No they are flying reptiles.”

Me: “……Aw, man. I guess you’re right.”

Rowan: “It’s ok. I’m pretending they’re dinosaurs.”

 

QOTD: now with ASL!

It’s time for me to transcribe the kid quotes saved in my notepad app into the Quote of the Day journal, and this edition includes some fascinating American Sign Language quotes from June! Here are the highlights from the first quarter of this year.

:QOTD

Rowan is on track to outpace Greg and me on computer and phone app skills pretty soon. He’s fascinated by computer commands. One day he was watching June crawl around in the mini ball pit we had set up in the living room. After a moment, Rowan told her, “When you want to get out, press the home button.”

 ♥

While driving somewhere with Rowan, Greg asked the car’s voice command system to play songs from his library.

“There are no phones set up to play music,” the car responded.

“Did she knock all the phones down?” Rowan asked.

 ♥

Rowan discovered a letter opener in the kitchen, so I explained that it’s for opening letters. Several days later he asked if he could open “the letter A” with the tool that has a pointy beak.

 ♥

Shortly after entering the “why” phase, Rowan asked why God loves him.

“Because He made you,” I said.

Rowan: “Why’d He make me?”

“Because He loves you. Wait, well, that’s circular, isn’t it. Well little dude why do you think God made you?” I asked

“Because it’s a beautiful day,” he replied.

 ♥

I accidentally spilled some milk from Rowan’s lunch in the car. After several rounds of Rowan asking “why” that happened, I said I’d have to try harder next time to not spill.

“Don’t try harder two times,” he said. “Then do it right.”

 ♥

Grandma to Rowan: “I thought you said you wanted the other thing. Did you change your mind?

Rowan looked puzzled and alarmed. “Do you have my mind?” he asked. “Do I have your mind? Can I have my mind back?”

 ♥

I had to set June down briefly to carry items between rooms, and she began wailing and asking to be picked up. I continued at my task, and Rowan patted June sweetly on the head.

“It’s ok, June. Sometimes Mama doesn’t come.”
(You’d think my kids were plucked from the pages of a Dickens novel…)

 ♥

In the last month, June has picked up a ton of signs from Greg, Rowan, and me plus watching Signing Time. One morning I was watching the video baby monitor, trying to assess if June was still trying to sleep in or if she was ready to start the day. She was rubbing her face and tossing around like when she’s trying to return to sleep, but I also saw her signing. I caught signs for “eat,” “surprised,” and “more.” I couldn’t figure out what was going on. I even scanned the room to see if she was signing to someone. Then I finally realized….SHE’S BABBLING. In sign language. And trying to get herself back to sleep.

 ♥

June loves playing with the dog bowls, but she’s not allowed to play with the dog food. So she has to wait for the dogs to finish their meal. As usual, Tracy was taking her time. So finally June sat down beside Tracy’s bowl, signed “all done!” and placed Saharas empty bowl on top of Tracy’s half eaten breakfast.

 ♥

June discovered Rowan’s awesome crocodile puppet, and I was making it talk to her. I couldn’t resist playfully “gobbling” her hands a few times, which made her look a little hesitantly at this new creature.

“It’s ok,” I said and I held the puppet out to her and petted it.

She pet it as well and signed, “Dog?” to me quizzically.*

“No, it’s not a dog, but I don’t know how to sign crocodile. It’s a croc-o-dile,” I said, as if that helped clarify anything.

 ♥

This last one isn’t a kid quote, but I’ve been laughing uncontrollably about it for two weeks. I recently got my first professional massage ever, courtesy of a Christmas gift card. When Greg asked me how it was, I said it was interesting and that I tried to figure out what she did to target each specific muscle.

“Like, she used her forearms a lot,” I said.

“Wow, she must be a good masseuse if she has four arms,” he said.

 ♥

End quotes, begin: nerd rant

*Language development is FASCINATING- a few of my psych courses touched on it- but acquisition of a signed language has unique additional layers. What I think is so interesting about this interaction is that it’s a piece of the incredibly complex puzzle that a child puts together during their first years of language development in which they learn through trial and error whether a word that they associate with an object is a noun or a descriptor, and how broadly that word applies to other things. If June saw a crocodile in the wild, the first word I might say to her in regard to it is “dangerous.” Or if a crocodile showed up in a colors book, I might point to it and say, “green.” Or, in the example I quoted from, I clumsily explained that this crocodile isn’t “real,” it’s a “puppet.” Over time, at this young age, she would eventually reason that a crocodile is not called “a dangerous” or “a green,” but rather it is called a crocodile and has the attributes “dangerous” and “green.” She’ll learn that the descriptors “dangerous” and “green” apply to broad, disparate sets of nouns, whereas things in categories like “reptiles” and “puppets” have more apparent similarities. She’ll learn that a “crocodile” is not a “dog,” but they are both “animals.” And this detailed process is repeated a thousand times over for each noun she learns. /nerd rant

Floor Plan With Furniture Drawn to Scale (a nerd’s dream realized)

We have reorganized our home frequently this year, and there is more to come. That’s why I am thrilled to finally finish this floor plan with moveable furniture. I took the necessary measurements six months ago after our FIFTH reorganization project of the year, but it’s been sitting on my “maybe to finish someday” list since then. Each reorganization project this year was necessary: first when we set up June in our room when she came home from the hospital, secondly when we moved her into her own room when we got night nursing for 3 weeks, thirdly when we moved her back into our room to co-sleep when we cancelled nursing and turned her room into a playroom, fourthly when we moved her back into her room when she couldn’t stay sleep with me nearby, and fifthly when we switched Rowan and June’s rooms so we could hear the pulse ox even if our baby monitors failed (since they did one time!).  Now our sixth move consists of making room for our new king bed (YAY said the expanding pregnant woman) and converting our office into a playroom. Sidenote: our good computer is now upstairs, so I may never blog again.

There are computer programs and websites that will construct a room layout and add furniture digitally, though they may advertise decor and design services to you.  If you’re interested in checking these programs out, Google “floor plan creator” or “room designer” etc.  I wanted a physical model rather than digital so I just drew one up myself. Here is how to do it, if you are so inclined.

Floor Plan with Moveable Furniture

1. Record the dimensions of each room in your home by taking quick length and width measurements or, for irregularly shaped rooms, measuring each wall.  You may note these measurements in feet initially, but you will need to convert them to inches when you do math later. Note the locations and dimensions of any features that impact furniture placement such as cabinets, appliances, shelves, doors, and windows.  You may even want to mark electrical or cable outlets.  It’s helpful to record these measurements on a rough sketch of the room rather than in a list format so that it’s clear what the measurements correspond to.

2. To choose a scale for your floor plan, estimate the widest and longest points of your home by adding the corresponding dimensions of the rooms that fall along those imaginary lines.  Then determine how big you want your floor plan to be. This may be determined by the size of your paper or other surface (a felt board would be awesome for this). Working in the same unit of measurement, such as inches, divide your proposed length of the floor plan by the actual length of the house to determine the scale (ie longest length of floor plan 24″/longest length of home 480″= 1/20 or .05).  You will multiply all of the measurements of the home and furniture by this number to convert them to the appropriate measurements for the scaled floor plan.  Before committing to this number however, multiply the width of the home by the scale to make sure this dimension fits on your paper as well.

3. After multiplying the room measurements by the scale, use them to draw the floor plan out with a ruler.  Unless you have a builder’s floor plan for reference, I’d recommend drawing all of the walls for each room leaving a small space between rooms so that you don’t have to match up shared walls precisely like on a blue print; wall width variation and hidden utility space could make that task much more trouble than it’s worth.

4. Record the dimensions of your furniture, measuring the largest length and width of the item in inches (ie a chair might have a 10″ round base but the bulk of the chair is 26″x30″).  This sounded overwhelming to me, but I was surprised at how quick this task was.  This can be done in a list format but it’s important to give a detailed label to the item so you can easily identify it later; it may be the only “chair” in the room you’re measuring but it’s one of many chairs in the house.

5. Convert these furniture measurements by multiplying by the scale.  Now it’s time to create your furniture pieces!  You could do this by hand or with a computer program.  I went with the computer so that I could clearly label the very small items.  Any program that allows you to draw shapes should also allow you to specify the size exactly; input the scaled dimensions here. Below is an example in Publisher.  You can add text and a color if you’d like.  We colored the furniture model pieces to match the color family of the real item.

Shape Size in Publisher

 

6. Print the furniture pieces at the highest quality and on durable paper like card stock or photo paper. Cut out close to the edges, and start arranging your furniture!

 

Phew!  We’ve had a lot of fun with this.  It’ll come in handy when we rearrange yet again once September 2015 Baby is ready to sleep in his or her own room.