Tiny Salutations

Tiny Salutations


Friday, January 30, 2015

Stitches for Two and Backtracking

How often do you go to the hospital for stitches? Once, twice, five times maybe, in your whole life. This week we went twice to get stitches. First, I cut my hand on a piece of corrugated metal for the roof. What is a construction project without at least one emergency doctor visit? A resident did my stitches, and no, they don't look pretty. Then, only two days later, we rushed our son to the emergency room to sew up his leg. He had fallen on top of the dog's water dish, and it shattered beneath him. He had several small cuts on his legs and feet and one bad gash on his leg. He already has lots of scars from the NICU, so I guess it will just be one more in the collection. Putting stitches in a completely conscious two year old is something I wish upon no one. My goodness was he red and screaming.

We have been working on the house quite a bit, but you wouldn't really know it by looking. We have kind of been backtracking and trying to fix what the weather has done during building. There is a reason people don't build in the winter in Western Washington. It rains. And rains. And rains. All those places that shouldn't get wet do. And a lot.

Since our roofing was salvaged, there were some not-so-perfect spots where screws had not been carefully removed and water got into the house. And after water comes mold around these parts. So the roof was removed and repaired, then placed back on in a better way and every screw hole was sealed with a roofing silicone. It is now waterproof. So, for those building a tiny house, you get to learn from our mistakes. All of our mistakes were monetarily based. We didn't buy enough roofing the first time. The second time, we bought an extra piece to add to our salvaged pile. So, here are my suggestions: 1) Make substantial overhangs on all four sides. 2) Make the ridges point in the best direction for water flow so that water doesn't sit on your roof. 3) Patch up any holes right away with roofing silicone.  4)  Build in the summer.  Seriously.

We also had water get into the floor, since right after we built the floor, there were daily downpours, broken only by periods of below freezing weather. Well, water can't get into the floor anymore, but we still had to contend with the fact that water had gotten in there. A lot of water. At the time, all we could do to keep the water out was build the walls and roof. But then we have walls and roof in the way, and it becomes difficult to fix the floor. We had two options: Open the floor, remove the insulation, dry it, and replace with foam board insulation to decreases chances of mold (we would dry the wet insulation and use it in the walls). Or we could leave the floor closed and hope for the best. Well, we sort of went with the latter option, but with an amendment. We left the floor closed, but put some well-screened vents in the floor from the underside of the trailer. When opening the floor from underneath for the vents, we could see that the floor appeared just as we left it- no mold, yet- except it was a bit damp. Overall, better than expected. So hopefully, the floor will air out, using the vents, and all will be well. It is these types of decisions that put your stomach in knots, hoping you made the right choice. 
Recycled Shingles
Other than those projects, the projects have been small details. Finishing the door locks. Since we built our own door jamb, that means we had to make our own holes for the locks. Making shingles and attaching shingles. This is an endless task. There are going to be So. Many. Shingles. But they are worth the effort. Recycled and free! And we are starting on the inside, but nothing much yet. I have a feeling that in the next two weeks, we will make a lot of progress.
It's Trumpeter Swan season here!
Shapes in the ice

Saturday, January 17, 2015

A door makes a house feel real

Just a short post today.

We have installed our door.  It makes the micro house feel like a real house!  We plan to paint it red at some point.

We bought our roofing salvaged so there are some issues with it and water is getting in.  Sad.  We are working on fixing those issues.

L has been having serious issues breathing while sleeping.  He has an appointment at Children's for a sleep study, but we just have to hang in there until then.  He had one occasion where he turned blue and I had to get him to start breathing again recently.  Other than that, he stops breathing every time he sleeps, but has not turned blue other times.  It is making him terrified to sleep (I can understand why!) and he is not getting good sleep.  Not getting good sleep means that his already low threshold for sensory input is even lower and everything is overwhelming to him.  He has been biting himself and just generally being a pill from this.  My poor baby.  It's always hardest to see your baby go through bad times.  He is stable for now though, and if he turns blue again he will be admitted to the hospital until we can figure it out.

Here are some pictures from our recent outings too!

"Adult" moss

Giant Pacific Octopus

California sea cucumber

Green anemone

Plumose anemone

Thursday, January 15, 2015

Encouraging Development

We have worked very hard with our son to try to encourage his development, as he has been late for most developmental milestones. This being said, now he is ahead on some milestones and behind on others. He has had therapies and we work on things at home. So I figured I would share what has worked for us to help with developmental delays.

First, be patient. Kids do things when they are ready, no sooner. You can support and encourage them to be ready, but they will not do it until they feel ready. Second, keep at it. Just because your little one didn't respond the first 50 times doesn't mean they won't ever. We used sign language for about a year and a half before our son picked it up.

For gross motor skills:


L learned to walk at 18 months. To learn how to walk, we built L an obstacle course. We put several table-like toys in a row staggered across the house. At first, he could reach each table toy without taking any steps. Then, I moved them just a little farther apart to where he had to stretch to reach a little, then one step, then two, etc. Eventually he could walk between the table toys easily.

L has only recently learned to jump (at about 2 years 9 months). To learn to jump, we had him jump on the couch and on the bed (Yes, jumping on the furniture! If it makes the difference in his leg strength, I'm all for it). He could hold on to the side of the bed or on to our hands. He started by just kind of wiggling up and down.

La has also just learned to walk up and down the stairs (at 2 years 9 months). We practiced stairs a lot. What finally clicked was that he had toys in both hands and didn't want to put them down to crawl up the stairs. Favorite toys can be good motivators.

Tummy time
L didn't learn to roll over until about 9 months, learn to sit up until about a year, and learn to crawl until about 14 months. Lots and lots of tummy time is what worked here. No he didn't like tummy time, but I would let him be upset for short periods of time often while doing tummy time.

I would also like to point out that he did not use his left side much for a long time. This, interestingly enough, was due to a nerve palsy in his eye. He had to tilt his head to see, and his body followed suit. He had an eye surgery to correct this. So if you see something abnormal in development, the doctor can be a good resource in addition to the therapists. I'm not sure if it is a state or federal program, but there is a program that will pay for a free eye exam to babies (I think between 6 months and 1 year). It is called InfantSee. I highly suggest everyone take advantage of it.

For language:

L didn't say any words- or understand any words- until about 27 months. Last February, he was evaluated at 9 months in language skills. He was evaluated again 8 months later at over 32 months (they stopped the testing there). The first thing he learned was sign language (“more”). Some people are skeptical about sign language, but I swear by it. My son would not be talking so well if we had not started with that. You don't just use the sign, you also say the word, and they eventually connect the two. First, I would show him the sign and say the word at the time he would need to use it. Then, later, I would request him to say it. Eventually, he would need to use the sign to get what he wanted from me. Once he had that down well, he would need to use the word with it to get what he wanted. 
First book- day 2 of life

Read all the time. Seriously. All the time. We started reading to L the day after he was born (I only got to see him for a few minutes the day he was born, and I was in no state to read). Reading to him everyday in the NICU made me feel a connection to him, even during those long days when I couldn't hold him. I read to him everyday and continued to do so until this very day. Until he became mobile, I would read to him many times throughout the day. After he learned to crawl around, he just couldn't sit still for a whole book- even a tiny board book. Although it felt frustrating, patience paid off. I would read to him until he crawled off. Some days it would take all day just to get through a couple of simple board books. That's okay. The more exposure they get, the longer they will be able to listen later. Now at 2.75 years, we read about 1-2 hours per day. We read for about an hour before bed and a few books throughout the day. And he actually listens the whole time, and we have moved on to some books without pictures (still reading books with pictures as well). Sometimes he still gets ants in his pants, and we have to set the book down and come back later. And that's still okay. L learns nearly everything about the world through books. He takes delight in pointing out things he remembers from his books throughout the day. He quotes his favorite parts during the day when he sees something relevant. And at under 3, he is just beginning to read. He knows all the letters and can point out a few words that he recognizes.

Homemade book

Make your own books. Sure there are wonderful kids books out there, but your child will better recognize and make connections if the pictures are from their very own little world. All of L's first words were in a book I made him. I put together a book (a binder with sheet protectors and simple photos with words printed below) of family members, pets, and things I wanted him to learn how to say, like “drink”, “book”, “car”, etc. He learned all of these words, with their accompanying signs, first. Then, after those were accomplished, he began saying new words that he found in other books.

Keep books everywhere. We have books everywhere- L's room, the living room, the bathroom, the car, my backpack.

Silly fun while reading

Surprised by a book
Reading a book

Don't limit yourself to baby books. We have board books for the sturdiness needed in the car and plastic books for the waterproofing needed in the bathtub (yes, he even reads in the bathtub!). These are good and serve their purpose. However, we also read more advanced books to L and just don't expect him to fully understand. Challenging him is the best way to push development a little further, as long as he is showing interest. At bedtime, we start out with whatever book he chooses. Then, we read a few with good pictures and a fun story (usually Dr. Seuss or a similar level). Generally, last we will read one that has few or no pictures for a while to settle him for sleep. During the day, we read some children's books and some “family” books. “Family” books are longer chapter books that we all can enjoy- and are appropriate for everyone- and generally take a few days or weeks to read ( some of my favorites are Lois Lowry books, Dear America books, American girl history books, etc.- there are so many more, but that gives you an idea).

Another technique we used to get L talking was imitation. He has had a hard time grasping turn-taking ideas, which is essentially what talking is, verbal turn-taking. So, to get him to understand this concept, we imitated whatever he did. We would make the same movement or sound. After a long time of imitating him, he finally started imitating us. Then, we would go back and forth in this way. Even though he speaks quite well now, using full sentences with prepositions and all, I repeat what he said back to him before giving him my answer. For example, he might ask “Where is my Barracuda?” (he knows tons of car models- the Barracuda being his favorite), and I would respond “Where is your Barracuda? I'm not sure. Let's go look for it in the living room.” This shows him that I am hearing him, acknowledging him, and showing him the proper way to form the sentence. This is especially helpful in situations where I cannot help him, but want him to know I heard him, such as “Can we have fruit treats (aka, dried fruit)?” when we are all out.

For sensory skills:

My son continues to have quite intense sensory problems, but we are progressing in the right direction. This section will be more individual and require some experimenting. What works for L, may not work for your child.

There are three other important points to make here. First, pick opportune times to try sensory challenges. What I mean is, don't try to stimulate his sensory system when he is already in a bad mood or overwhelmed. It won't work, and you will both be unhappy. Second, use baby steps. Adjusting to sensory stimulation is slow and steady. Sometimes you have to move forward in increments so small it seems like you aren't doing much. Remember, patience. Sometimes, you even have to take a step backwards. That's okay. Keep at it, and find what works for you. Third, find what will calm him down quickly. We went through agonizing months where we could not find what would calm him down quickly and effectively. This was during his most challenging period too. He was in constant meltdowns that would last for hours for seemingly no reason. We finally found a perfect solution for L. We put him in a blanket and swing him in it like a hammock. Within a few minutes of rocking he has calmed down. If there is only one person, pulling him around on a blanket is the next best thing. So find what works. It will take trial and error, but when you find it, it is so worth it.

Jumping in puddles

sensory rice bin

Tactile sensory: Give them lots of different textures to play with. Start out with things you know they will tolerate and slowly introduce more textures. Some good things to use here are shaving cream, paint, rice, beans, and bird seed. We made a home made rice bin by filling a large shallow storage tupperware about half way with rice. It is shallow enough that he can step in and out with minor assistance, but large enough that he has room to play. Since it is a tupperware, the lid snaps on so that we can store it in the shed and not worry about animals getting into it. Some animals love sandboxes, or anything similar, so I suggest using something you can keep closed tightly unless you keep it indoors. We give him opportunities to get messy. We let him play in a mountain of shaving cream in the bathtub before a bath. Or we let him paint with his hands. Or get covered in mud or sand.

Movement sensory: This has been one of L's biggest challenges. He is very sensitive to movement and can become overwhelmed easily. A moment of wrestling can lead to hours of meltdowns from being too overstimulated. We do something that is not stimulating for a while and every once in a while mix in something stimulating. For example, we will swing him back and forth in our arms, then spin him in a circle (the stimulating part), then let him crash (like a mild and safe toss) into a pile of blankets and pillows on the bed. He can do this a long time. It is important to remember that toddlers often can't tell right away when they have had too much, so use your best judgment here.

Visual sensory: This is another of L's challenges. We have not sufficiently found much to help here yet. I think he may have some eye problems left from being premature (he started to develop ROP , which is where the retinas don't attach properly due to high oxygen levels in the NICU) and eye surgery. Often, when one piece of development is really out of whack, there is a physical problem behind it, particularly with L. I highly suggest any medical reasons be ruled out for any developmental challenges. The one thing that we have noticed is that television is terrible for this issue. If he watches any TV, he loses control of himself. It is like supercharging stimulation for him. We have recently been suggested vision therapy, so I will keep you updated on that. He also has an appointment with the ophthalmologist to assess his current vision challenges coming up.

Sound sensory: L has recently turned a corner with sound sensory. Before having his ear tubes placed, he would scream until you turned off all music. He still does this if he is in a bad mood. If you catch him in a good mood though, sometimes he will even try to sing or dance. The other day I was listening to Billie Holiday while tidying in the kitchen, and L came in and said “This is a cool song!” It just melted my heart to see how far he has come with this sensory challenge. Don't get me wrong, there are still times where he screams like a banshee until you turn it off, but now there are some times where he likes music. It's all about recognizing the little victories!

I certainly don't have all the answers, and we are constantly learning, but I hope this has helped any of the parents out there facing challenges with developmentally delayed kids. Or given parents with typically developmental kids more ideas to help bolster learning in their child! 

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Walls Y'all

The walls are up!  We put up the plywood sheathing for the walls and wrapped it in house wrap.  It is officially safe from the rain, of which we have been having a lot.  We even had snow a little bit.  Unfortunately, too much rain got into the floor, and we will have to open it up.  Stay tuned for that one, Lord willing.  It’s not too bad, but we don’t want the insulation to mold.  Now that the walls are up and dried in, water can’t get into the floor anymore anyway.  Now that it is dried in, all projects will be put on a temporary hold until I am well again though (I have pneumonia).   
Working on sheathing

Sheathing finished from the front

Sheathing finished from the back

Sheathing finished from inside

Excited for the micro house...

...But it's hard work.

Recycling cans into shingles
The drills have become a part of the family and all have names
We recently  visited a museum with vintage planes (many WWII or older).