Category Archives: Blogging
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.
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!”
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.
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:
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.
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.
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.