Category Archives: Technology

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.

 

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An Election Conversation With My Kids

election-conversation

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.
Rowan: Why?
Me: So other people can make their choices too. What’s happening here is very important.
Rowan: Why?
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!

Follow along with us tomorrow using the electoral college map printable or digital version and other free election resources from:

Scholastic News 

C-SPAN Classroom

Smithsonian Education

 

Special Needs Family Outings: What Didn’t Work (for us) Part 2 of 2

Today we conclude the special needs family outings series with the second part of the discussion on what did not work so well for us (see part 1 here).  Here we’ll share difficulties we encountered during two of the most challenging travel situations we have faced: flying and handling a medical emergency away from home.

Special needs family outings What Didnt work

 

Flying With a Medically Complex Kiddo

June thought having her own airplane seat was pretty cool when big brother wanted to take a turn as mama's lap baby

June thought having her own airplane seat was pretty cool when big brother wanted to take a turn as mama’s lap baby

Two winters ago, our family made the unusual decision to fly across the country with the kids in the middle of RSV season.  My grandfather had passed away after a long illness, and it was important to our family to join the many people who were gathering to celebrate his life and honor his memory.  In order to do this, we faced many challenges including flying with very young children, having access to June’s medical equipment during the flight, and combating the risk of contracting a cold, flu or RSV in the cramped germ incubator that is an airplane.  One idea we had was to snag the first seat in our section, reducing the number of people we are close to.  That did not work, since we then had no underseat storage ahead of us, and we had lots of equipment to stow in arm’s reach.  Another bright idea we had was to be the last people to board the plane, so we reduce the amount of time we are sitting in stagnant air before the plane’s air circulation/cleaner system is operating (the internet said this was a good idea).  That backfired as well, as the plane was full to capacity and passengers were already having to check their carry-ons because the overhead storage was full.  Along came us, with 6 carry-ons which were all essential.  We stood awkwardly at the head of the plane isle while other people’s luggage was shuffled and checked to make room for ours.  And also so that we could switch seats with some very kind passengers in our section since our spots at the front wouldn’t work for us.  When we were seated, we discovered that the essential items we needed to have on-hand (oxygen concentrator, suction machine, and emergency bag) did not all fit under the seat in front of us, so one item had to be stowed above during the critical take-off and landing times, when we aren’t allowed to stand up. I waited very nervously for those few minutes wondering what would happen to me if June did have an emergency and I had to stand and take out our equipment during that critical take-off time.  Thankfully we had no emergencies on either flight. Lastly, on the flight back, which I made alone with the two kids, Rowan had a loud, one-hour melt-down during which we collected some stares, some sympathetic grimaces, and even some gold fish crackers that a compassionate mom brought to us from another section of the plane.  These things were all stressful, but not insurmountable.  Despite the logistic adjustments during boarding and the tantrum, the kids were fascinated by the flight and we had a really wonderful vacation. While Greg and I enjoyed seeing everyone and having dozens of extra hands helping with the kids, the kids learned about their great-grandfather’s amazing life, met many relatives, played in snow for the first time, and witness vehicles driving on lakes.

Vehicles on frozen lake in MN

 

Local Medical Care Is Inadequate (and everything else went wrong)

June, two days after an unproductive trip to the local ER, recovering splendidly and having fun on our road trip this summer.

June, two days after an unproductive trip to the local ER, recovering splendidly and having fun on our road trip this summer.

When travelling out of our own metro area, Greg and I always look up the nearest children’s hospitals in the event that June needs emergency care since most adult or non-specialty hospitals don’t have the experience and equipment to help her.  During our recent road trip, we were encouraged that we would be close-ish to *the* best children’s hospital for trach patients in the country (Cinncinatti Children’s). But when June developed a bad stomach bug, we were 5.5 hours away from Cinncinatti.  June was getting dehydrated vomiting every 30 minutes, so we decided to seek an IV at the local hospital while we evaluated whether we should make that 5.5 hour hike.  My sister graciously took Rowan for the day while Greg, Miles, June and I went to the hospital ER in the mid-sized city close to the relatives we were visiting.  As always, I warned the nurses that it is always very difficult to get an IV in June, and even moreso when she’s dehydrated.  So, I pointed out the only two sites that are successful for IVs 90% of the time, requested ultrasound assistance in locating the vein, and asked that they not draw blood from an established IV.  Some of the nurses were condescending and short with me, stating that they will use their judgment as professionals, and they proceeded to use sites other than those I showed (which failed), tried repeatedly without the ultrasound (which failed), got an IV with the ultrasound and then drew back for blood on it (which caused it to fail), and ultimately did not succeed in establishing an IV at all. The doctor prescribed June an anti-nausea medication which I refused because I knew from previous illnesses there is a life-threatening interaction between it and her heart medication.  The doctor also ordered a chest X-ray but discharged us before reading it. In short, the ER trip was a torturous waste of our time.  Thankfully, June’s vomiting subsided on its own without complications. But that was just the beginning of our misadventures.

In the hospital Greg and I ran down our cell phone batteries entertaining June and keeping family members updated. Miles and I left the hospital with plans to charge my phone in the car, pick up Rowan from across town then return to pick Greg and June up. But I discovered that my charger was not in the car; it was with the jumble of cords we had unpacked back at our lodging.  As I pulled away from the hospital, my phone died completely.  I didn’t have the address or phone of where Rowan was staying.  I didn’t have a map or GPS.  I couldn’t contact Greg. And after one or two turns on one-way streets, I didn’t even know where the hospital was anymore.  So. I drove in “boxes,” always turning right onto one-way streets to stay in the vicinity until I could find something I recognized.  Finally I recognized a street name, then a landmark, and then, by divine providence…Greg and June, who had exited the hospital and were headed for my former street-parking spot.  And Greg’s phone had 22% battery life.  So we rationed the battery to find our way to pick up Rowan and then to navigate to the place we were staying, 22 miles way.  We watched the battery life dwindle as we traveled the dark rural roads.  Near the end of the journey found ourselves on an unlit dirt road lined with 6-foot-high corn on both sides, and our headlights illuminated a fork in the road that wasn’t on the map. And then the phone died completely.  If the horror movies are to be believed, we just knew we were all about to be devoured by zombies.  I must add that despite the drama of it all and the danger involved (we were lost, without communication, in a deserted area with a sick, medically complex child), Greg and I laughed at the sheer absurdity of the situation, and the fact that we tend to have more than our fair share of wild surprises like this.  Ultimately, we saw a light off to the right, so we decided to try that fork. This is another glimmer of divine providence, because the light turned out to be that of the relatives house where we were staying.

June got over the stomach bug fine with Gatorade and some phone consults with our doctors, and we went on to have a ton of fun on the trip.  The boys actually developed the stomach bug as well just in time for our drive home.  But we took advantage of the leisurely pace we had planned for the drive back, and since the kids mostly preferred to rest or play quietly while they were recovering, the drive home was actually pretty relaxing.  We even enjoyed a stop at Dinosaur World without any gastric emergencies.

Dinosaur World in Kentucky is awesome.

Dinosaur World in Kentucky is awesome.

I hope that these stories of our shenanigans may offer some knowledge, wisdom and humor to other special needs families.  I hope they don’t dissuade any special needs families from travelling if they’re considering doing so.  Because despite these bumps, these trips have all been worth it.  The memories we made far outweigh the various difficulties we encountered.  These things have been good learning opportunities, too, and have helped us to prepare better next time.  Which means that every time we venture out, we are increasing our ability, wisdom and mobility as a family.  And collecting some good and unusual stories along the way.

Special Needs Family Outings- What Didn’t Work (for us), Part 1 of 2

We conclude our special needs family outings series with a discussion of what did not work so well for us when traveling.  I’ve divided the post into two parts, the first being an assortment of issues/examples and the second will cover difficulties we had while flying and handling a medical emergency away from home.

We try mightily with careful planning and creative ‘rigging’ to minimize our risk, overcome obstacles to travelling and increase our mobility.  We’ve been fortunate to enjoy several memorable trips in the last few years which were overall very successful.  But they weren’t without bumps big and small along the way.

Special needs family outings What Didnt work

Forgetting Things
We tuck away duplicates of everything possible in case we ever forget something, but there are some essential items that have no such back-up.  Most notably, the portable suction machine which we keep in a bag along with everything needed for an emergency.  Having this “emergency bag” with June at all times is a matter of life or death. As such, I have forgotten to put it in the car about three times ever, and in each case I noticed its absence within 2 minutes and turned around to retrieve it without incident.  Actually for the first two years of June’s life I *never* forgot it because we suctioned her at least once an hour.  But as she grew, and especially after her LTR surgery last summer, June can clear mucus from her trach tube very effectively and does not need to be machine suctioned very often; sometimes only once in 24 hours.  So the first time I forgot it, it was because I capitalized on the momentum of the particularly rambunctious kids who were already in the garage for an impromptu drive around the block.  The break in routine, leaving from the garage rather than the house, contributed to forgetting to grab the bag. On the other two occasions, I had another person with me and we each assumed the other had grabbed the bag.  Now we verbally confirm that assumption before leaving.  In a less dramatic event, when June had first switched from total oral feeding to total tube feeding after her surgery last summer, we once forgot her feeding pump and prescription formula at home when we went on a day trip.  I had the back-up g-tube extension, but we had no way to acquire the rare formula she needed.  So we gave her water and Pedialyte manually that day and cut the trip short by just a little.

Lack of Handicap Access

Our current set-up, the Graco Ready2Grow loaded with emergency bag, oxygen tank (when needed), diaper bag and a couple a' kids

Our current set-up, the Graco Ready2Grow loaded with emergency bag, oxygen tank (when needed), diaper bag and a couple a’ kids

We’ve struggled at times with lack of ramps or space for the stroller that carries June’s medical equipment. A local museum has a strict no-stroller policy at one of their wildlife exhibits, but we explained that (at the time, before June could walk, and I couldn’t carry both her, the suction bag and the emergency bag) the stroller is medically necessary to carry the heavy equipment in the same way that a wheelchair is necessary for some guests, and I asked if the exhibit is handicap accessible in that regard.  That helped to clarify our need and we gained entry, but still while we toured the exhibit, other well-meaning staff approached us to explain that our stroller was contraband.

In another instance when we all went to support Greg at a mud/adventure race, we were assured access to handicap parking at the event itself, but the day of, due to muddy conditions, all vehicles were required to park in a field 18 MILES AWAY and return via shuttle busses.  So, we parked in the field, loaded the emergency bag AND oxygen tank into the double stroller since we would not have access to our car, pushed the stroller across uneven rocky ground and loaded it into the back of a yellow school bus that served as a shuttle.  Then at the event they weren’t kidding about the mud.  The heavy laden, low-riding (non-jogging) double stroller sunk into the stuff.  At times, my feet had no traction to even attempt to push it, and when I did push, the front end was just accumulating a wall of mud in front of it as it burrowed further into its own little mud quarry.  Several times, friendly race finishers, caked with mud and full of endorphines and adrenaline, happily picked up the entire stroller as I traversed the roughest patches of the spectator areas. To top it off, Greg had no cell phone on the muddy, wet race course and couldn’t communicate to me that his team was taking four hours longer than expected to finish.  By the end of it, we were all thoroughly baked in the sun, I had wearily checked with all the medical tents and authorities for news of Greg’s whereabouts, and it was only by a small miracle that we eventually did spot each other in the sea of 10,000 muddy people.

The mud. I would have enjoyed the mud fun a lot more if it wasn't taking place on farm land that was littered with cow patties....

The mud. All that mud.

Environmental Hazards: Smoke, Heat and Weather

The most common environmental hazards we deal with are proximity to smoke and lack of air conditioning.  Usually we can counter these by leaving the smoky area or hopping into the car for some AC, but that’s not always possible (such as when your car is parked 18 miles away. Ahem.). When visiting relatives once, we made plans to stay at a home that I had completely forgotten was infused with 50 years of cigarette smoke AND had no air conditioning.  We had to change accommodation as tactfully as possible.  In another instance, Greg and I used the Hotwire website to secure discounted lodging only to find that the hotel it booked for us only had smoking rooms available (even given the medical basis for our need).  They explained that they could not offer a refund since we dealt with Hotwire, and likewise, Hotwire has a rather iron-clad no-refund policy with ample warning-jargon in the usage agreement that room preferences and amenities may not be available. (This warning never bothered me because we aren’t picky about amenities, but the possibility of being left with only smoking rooms never occurred to me.)  We accepted the fact that we’d probably would not get a refund, and looked around for other lodging that night anyway, without success.  Ultimately we returned to the Hotwire find and reluctantly settled into the smoky room for a few hours of sleep.

In terms of weather, we always have to be mindful of potential power outages that would limit our use of June’s medical equipment as well as any conditions (road closures, disasters) that would affect our access to medical care if needed.  Thankfully we haven’t had any problems, but we have altered our course when bad weather arose- including a few minutes after we took this photo while stretching our legs at a park on the Mississippi River.  A severe storm was blowing in quickly from just across the river, and a minute after we snapped that photo, everyone in the area was scattering, running for cars and shelter as the surprising 60 mph winds arrived just ahead of the rain.  Somewhere at that park is a favorite sparkly shoe of June’s that we lost when we picked her up to run to the car. (Thankfully, our fashionista has plenty more.)

ms-river

Check back later this week for part two!

 

Special Needs Family Outings: What Worked (for us)

We will end the special needs family outing series with two fun posts: what worked for us when travelling near and far, and what didn’t.  I am excited to share this because as I mentioned in the first series post, we’ve done a lot of adventuring this summer! Here are a few of our travel ideas and plans that DID work for us recently or in the past.

Special needs family outings What Worked

Packing: Lists, Redundancy, and “The Question”

Kid Suitcase

The biggest concern that I have about travelling anywhere is not having a critical item during an emergency.  We combat this a few ways. First, by using a packing list and packing map that shows where everything is stored (see our free printable here).  Secondly, in addition to the fully stocked emergency bag that we take everywhere, we store duplicates of essential items in convenient places.  This includes:

*Trachs and ambu bags in June’s room, the stroller, upstairs, one under the driver’s seat of the car and one in the back of the car with the oxygen tank

*Suction catheters in the glove boxes of both cars which could be used as manual suction if the suction machine wasn’t available

*Sterile g-tube kit in June’s room and in the car

*HMEs in the suction bag and in the car console

*Extra G-tube extension and 60CC syringe in the suction bag

*When travelling out of state, I bring either our spare suction machine or a spare suction canister and tubing

And finally, Greg and I ask a quick question- The Question- anytime we venture out– “What is the most important thing we could forget?” This serves to remind us that the vast majority of forgotten items are easily replaceable on the trip, so we don’t even inquire about toiletries or small clothing items we may have missed.  This allows us to mentally check off only the “most important” things are those that can’t easily be acquired, like glasses, wallet, ID, cell phone chargers, prescription meds, and June’s specialized medical supplies.

Planning: Extra Time, Flexible Schedule, Exercise, and Breaks Alone

Dino World

We have been fortunate to take the kids on two cross-country trips in the past 2 years. They both went wonderfully, although with humorous bumps along the way which I’ll talk about in the next post- what didn’t work.  The key to enjoying long trips away from home, for us, has been building flexibility into our schedule and accommodations, including:

*Not scheduling a specific arrival time when driving so that we could stop every 2-3 hours during the day to play at local parks without feeling like we’re on the clock (Oh how Google maps has changed this aspect of vacation as compared to my childhood; at any moment we chose, we could navigate to the nearest park, some of which were tiny neighborhood playgrounds that we never guessed were there.)

*Extending our first trip by one week because it was going so well; there was a $100 fee to change the flight date, but we viewed it as an incredible bargain for a whole extra week of vacation.

*Extending the drive time home on our recent trip by one day (and an extra hotel stay), knowing that there were several sights we wanted to see along the way (like Dino World, which was awesome!) and that we would be tired from the exertions during the vacation

 

*Ensuring that, even when seeing family, we always had a private space of our own available to us to tend to the kids’ needs for naps, food, and recharging our introvert batteries.

Help: Seeking and Accepting

Beach

Rowan has a day at the beach with his grandparents

We are blessed with wonderful friends and family.  So when planning to travel, we think of ways that others could help, whether it is the family and friends we are visiting or even the hotels we use.  First, we are able to lighten our packing load by borrowing bulky items like a room humidifier, pack and play or cold weather extra clothes.  Secondly, when hazards to June are involved in the group plans, such as a trip to the pool or beach, we utilize the extra hands available to let the boys enjoy the sand and water while June plays elsewhere.  And lastly, we are grateful for extra hands when emergencies arise.  During our last trip, June unexpectedly got sick and had to go to the ER (more on that in the next post, too).  My sister, who we were visiting, gladly took Rowan for the entire day while we navigated an unfamiliar hospital system.

Electronics: Save for Last

Ghosts in the Car

The kids spent an appreciable amount of time cracking up about pretending to be ghosts early in the road trip.

This one may be relatively unique to our family, as I know many people have great success with electronics in the car; but I find that if I give the kids a phone or tablet early in the trip, they get frustrated when they can’t find or do EXACTLY what they want on it, and soon the phone is getting beaten on and thrown.  (Anyone else experience projectile iPhones while driving?)  And of course there’s the battery life issue.  In contrast, I find that the kids get a whole lot more mileage (literally) out of creative play like coloring, stickers, light bright/etch-a-sketch, and imaginary games; I think these activities are flexible enough to engage the kids pent up energy. As noted above, the kids spent about 20 minutes gleefully pretending to be ghosts.  Another time, Rowan was thoroughly amused to find that June was taking the pretend play so seriously that if he pretended to spill imaginary milk on her, she would cry urgently for a change of clothes. Reason wasn’t really helping, so Greg and I intervened by arming June with an imaginary jelly bean launcher. We all had silly fun dodging imaginary candy.  And I much prefer that to dodging non-imaginary cell phones. We find that- at least for our Safari family and the ages/stage the kids are in now- these imaginary pursuits can fill nearly an entire day of driving, and when the kids do *tire* of them, we introduce the electronics for more passive entertainment; the kids even nodded off watching their phones when they received them towards the end of our daily driving.

Those are some of the things that went *right* or have worked well for our family in our current situation.  There were plenty of hiccups thrown in as well though, some of which are pretty funny in hindsight. We’ll share those in the last post of the series: what didn’t work so well!

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.

Our “Homeschool Curriculum” Fall 2015

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.

Homeschool Curriculum 2015
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:

Language Arts 

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.

Sight Words Caterpillar Felt Board from Confessions of a Homeschooler

Sight Words Caterpillar Felt Board from Confessions of a Homeschooler

Reading

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!

Book worm

Book worm

Gross Motor

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.

Standard couch slide construction at the Safari House

Standard couch slide construction at the Safari House*

*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.”

Fine Motor

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.

June with Let's Get Ready for School Activity Pack: Letters

June with Let’s Get Ready for School Activity Pack: Letters

Spatial Reasoning

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.

I had to text this to my husband because I couldnt figure out how Rowan made it

I had to text this to my husband because I couldnt figure out how Rowan made it

Sign Language

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.

June signing "girl"

June signing “girl”

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.

Nervously watching June use finger paints- homemade so non-toxic, but still a potential danger to her trach. No corn strach in the lungs, please.

Nervously watching June use finger paints- homemade so non-toxic, but still a potential danger to her trach. No corn strach in the lungs, please.

Math

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.

Earning money toward a model T-rex from the museum gift shop

Earning money toward a model T-rex from the museum gift shop

Science

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.

Lesson learned: empty cardboard boxes are deceptively strong

Lesson learned: empty cardboard boxes are deceptively strong

Charting the outcome of box weight capacity experiment with Dada- plus a look at our "homeschool corner"

Charting the outcome of box weight capacity experiment with Dada- plus a look at our “homeschool corner”

 

Baking = Science Experiment

Baking = Science Experiment

“Field Trips”

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.

Surprise iguana outside of "the dinosaur museum"

Surprise iguana outside of “the dinosaur museum”

An assassin bug that suddenly appeared on my NECK during a playdate at a new park

An assassin bug that suddenly appeared on my NECK during a playdate at a new park.  Luckily I was in an educational mood and researched it with the kids instead of converting it into an assassintated bug.

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.

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.

Hospital Playlist- Top 10 (OK, 20…)

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 LinesCan’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

Along These Same Lines: Power Up- Wreckshop Family, Party Up- DMX , Ruff Rider’s Anthem – DMX

 

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

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