Sunday, February 28, 2010

In Which We Go To The Seattle Home Show, With Mixed Results

Today Jer and I once again left Connor with our fantastic respite care worker and went out!  It's nice to have a little time to play since this next week is going to be so crazy.

So we threw the crutches in the car and drove up into Seattle to catch the last day of the Seattle Home Show and see what kind of exciting new forays into Universal Design we could find.  The results were rather mixed.

On the one hand, we did find this absolutely gorgeous Universal Design prefab model home, called the FabCab, which was set up to be fully wheelchair accessible.  Jer and I talked with the architect for a while and then wandered around inside.  It was pretty neat, and it was very interesting to compare our new house with the model to see how similar design requirements were executed in different ways for very different looks.  That was by far the highlight of the day, and made the trip up more than worth it!

We also walked past a large number of elevator and lift companies.  Nearly all the appliance companies had front loading washers and driers, French door and bottom freezer refrigerators, and induction cook tops as a matter of course.  And we did see a couple of bath companies featuring accessible bathtubs and showers. 

Now for the downside.  Other than that one model home, we saw zero examples of accessibility in home builder, interior designer, or model kitchen displays.  Not one roll-under counter top or island.  Not a single lowered counter.  Not even a picture of one.  And this was not exactly a small home show, as you can see.  That photograph I took is of one third of the main floor of the show.  We were standing on the second floor (with even more booths) when I snapped it.

The other two model homes there had wheelchair ramps tacked on as an afterthought and absolutely no other concessions to accessibility of any type.  Both ramps were at the back ends of the houses (and added nothing to the decor, being standard ho-hum uncreative varieties).  In one case the ramp had an "exit only" sign on it.  Seeing that the only marked entrance seemed to have a large number of stairs up to it, I ran up and asked the builder where the accessible entrance was.  He pointed us to the exit ramp.  So we walked up the ramp and through the back door, to discover that the line of people going through the house of course went one way, and we were now walking upstream.  Glorious.

The other model home had a relatively long line to get in.  The ramp was around the corner, hidden from the line.  We asked the gentleman standing outside the ramp if that was the way to get in. 

"Yes, but there's a line," he said.  He pointed to me.  "You'll have to wait in it."  He pointed to Jer.  "You can wait here."

There was no way to see the ramp from the entrance of the house.  Apparently I was supposed to wait in line until I made it to the front, immediately walk through the house (in another one-way line) to the exit, pop my head out the door and let Jer know that he was now allowed to walk up the ramp.  Then we could once again fight our way upstream to see the interior of the house. 

I mean, I'm not saying we should be allowed to cut in line.  But come on-- seriously?  Obviously accessibility was an afterthought with these houses-- the general line of thought seemed to be "let's make all the disabled people go up the back because accomodating them would make the front of the house ugly."  That's more than a little insulting.  Granted, these are all prefabricated homes.  But it still seems to me that there could have been a little more thought put into this, even if the home layout couldn't have been changed.  The ramp had to go on the outside of the house, after all.

And some of the comments made by vendors as we were walking by were just plain rude.  Jer had shorts on as it was a lovely, sunny day outside, so his heavily scarred calf with its interesting profile was visible to all.  One gentleman called me over and handed me a bunch of candy, telling me that Jeremy was "so brave to be out like that."  Vendors hawking various pain management solutions (they're at every home show I've ever been to-- don't ask me why) were yelling at us down the aisles about how they would miraculously cure Jeremy's nonexistent knee and back pain.  Another guy tackled us in the parking lot and shoved one glass pebble in Jer's pocket and another in his sock "free of charge," telling us that they would "help his nerves make the connection."  He asked Jer if the problem was a staph infection.

I think the most befuddling one was the lady who yelled: "HEY!  WALKING WOUNDED!" at the top of her lungs and gave Jer an excited wave as we walked by in a sort of stunned silence.  I can't even remember what she was selling-- I think it was windows.  I mean, who does that?  We considered going back by and yelling "HEY! STANDING UGLY!" but ultimately decided to take the high road. 

So all in all I'd say that the day sort of balanced; the sad design concessions and odd interactions with people were kind of canceled out by the sheer awesomeness of the accessible prefab home.  At any rate, we finished up the day with some yummy Italian food and our usual date pastime: reading at one of the myriad of coffee shops we patronize.

It was a pretty good break.  Now it's back to business!


In Which Jer And I Are Very Serious

Today Jeremy and I got the chance to go out on a date!  It was nice to get out and about, though right now our outings are limited to about 15 minutes at a time if they involved walking since that's about the time limit on Jer's forays out with a cane right now before he needs a rest.  It's still great to get out, though, and since our dates mostly consist of us going out to dinner and then finding some place with hot beverages to sit and read, it works out pretty well.

Since we were able to actually get out and walk around for a little while-- we were looking for some cool cloth storage bins for our bedroom closet-- we were able to indulge in one of our favorite pastimes.  We don't really have a name for it, but I guess if I was forced to come up with one I'd call it the Aircraft Carrier Game.  Basically what we do is have very loud arguments about completely insane topics within earshot of other shoppers while totally ignoring their reactions. 

I'd call it the Aircraft Carrier game because that's one of our favorite conversations to have.  Basically it involves us deciding upon retirement to buy an aircraft carrier and then retrofit it as a luxurious abode.  We argue over which country we will park the carrier offshore of, who will be allowed to live with us on our vessel, what we will name it, whether or not we will keep the missiles it came with, and how we will decorate the interior.  Other arguments we've had in the past include such scintillating topics as whether or not we can train poison dart frogs to use tasers and act as miniature sheep dogs (sheep frogs?) in our cat herding business and how exactly one would go about building a stadium that could be filled with wolves and used to weed out people with dubious amounts of common sense.

Tonight's spirited debate involved us first agreeing that we needed to buy two Roomba vacuum cleaners so that we could pit them against one another in duels.  Then we argued over what weaponry we would put on the Roombas and how they would be directed.  We finally agreed that we would strap the cats onto the vacuum cleaners and allow them to control them, but got bogged down when we figured out that Loki's Roomba would be drastically slower than Cricket's due to his much larger size, giving him a significant handicap.  After we had hashed out a solution there we had differing opinions yet again in what weaponry we would give the cats (Jer favored blunt lances and I waffled between squirt guns and low-power tasers).  All of this was at normal to slightly loud conversational level within clear earshot of several other shoppers.

It's really amusing to see how other people react to our debates.  We've had people repeatedly shoot each other looks ranging from amused to horrified depending on whether or not they had a firm grasp on sarcasm.  We've had some shoppers clandestinely follow us around the store listening, and a few have even jumped in on one side or the other of the argument and offered their own suggestions. 

I'm not clear exactly how this game started, but we've been doing it for years now.  We both keep perfectly straight faces and talk very seriously and passionately about our chosen topic.  It's one of the idiosyncrasies I love so much about our marriage.

Anybody else have crazy little games they play with their significant other?


Friday, February 26, 2010

In Which I Am Faced With An Awful Dilemma

Connor promptly threw up his breakfast this morning, so he stayed home from school again.  I think he's on the mend, though, as he didn't seem nearly as stuffy today as he did yesterday.  Hopefully that's the case.  Jeremy was still feeling pretty lousy.  Thus far I remain blissfully sickness free, but since I have now blogged about it I have no doubt jinxed myself and will probably be horribly ill tomorrow.  Oh well.

I didn't get as much done today as I would have liked, because shortly after throwing up Connor fell asleep snuggling in my arms and slept for two and a half hours.  I love it when Connor falls asleep on me, but I used to love it a lot more when he didn't weigh about thirty pounds, which doesn't seem all that much until you factor in that somehow when he falls asleep his gravity increases.  I swear the kid weighed about thirty pounds per square inch of body he had draped over my arms and lap, and so when I finally put him down it was not because I wanted to, but because I could no longer feel my hands or feet and if I allowed him to continue sleeping on me I wasn't sure I would be able to feel them ever again.  Since I was iffy about whether or not I could actually walk and carry him over to his bed, finally I sort of slung him over the futon in our living room (which is where I was sitting) and he slept there for another two hours while I did that crazy pins-and-needles dance in the middle of our floor as I regained blood flow to my extremities.

Since the futon doesn't have an apnea monitor in it and Jeremy was gone at physical therapy, this meant that the entire time Connor was asleep I was confined to being within eyeshot in case he decided to have a seizure.  After about hour four I was pretty crabby because not only was I not getting any work done in the office, which was where I needed to be, but I also really, really needed to go to the bathroom. 

It was a serious problem and I was becoming desperate.  What to do?  Wake up my sick kid?  Rush down the hallway and hope he doesn't stop breathing before I get back?  Pee in a bottle?  Can girls even do that anyway, and would I be able to live with myself afterwards if I attempted it?  These are not the types of dilemmas I thought about when I thought of parenthood back before I had Connor.  I thought I would be dealing with things like which cute outfit to put on my kid that day and what preschool to send him to, not potential bladder explosions.  Luckily right before I had to make a decision Jer walked in the front door and saved me just in the nick of time, so disaster was averted.  Let's just say that vase on the mantle was looking better every second.  Eww.

Yet another reason Jeremy is my superhero.  Any man who saves his wife from a situation like that is worth his weight in gold.


Thursday, February 25, 2010

In Which Everyone But Me Is Sick, So It's Only A Matter Of Time

So both the guys are sick now with some new bug.  Whoopie.  I'm drinking a whole lot of immune booster-type vitamin C drinks in a desperate attempt to ward off the nasty stuff so that I won't be bogged down with taking care of the guys and packing and being sick.  Because that would not be fun.

Connor spent the day home again.  By evening he sounded much less congested and he's not snoring (or throwing up) like he did last night and during his nap today, so I'm hoping that it was just a 24 hour bug and he'll be over it tomorrow.  We'll just have to see. 

I spent most of my work time today delving into the giant box maze that is our office, which is where I had been storing all of the boxes I'd packed.  Of course it would have made logical sense to you know, pack the office first before I stacked up all of those boxes in front of everything, but apparently logic and I are not very well acquainted.  So I moved all of the boxes to our bedroom and Connor's bedroom, which have both been packed, and now Connor, Jer and I are all sleeping in the living room, but at least I can get to the stuff in the office.  I'm hoping to finish that up tomorrow and tackle the living room.  We'll see how far I get-- Connor's MASSIVE file collection may bog me down for a little while. 

I did manage to sneak out of the house this evening after Connor went down for bed.  I drove over to see how the new house looked (and also to pick up more dishwasher detergent, scrubbing brushes and cheese, but that's beside the point) and was amazed at how quickly things are moving! 

All of the floors are in and it's just the trim that's being worked on now, the kitchen is sporting a gorgeous tile backsplash and the fantastic faux paint finish on the cook top hood is currently being completed, and the master bathroom has a beautiful glass tile backsplash now (reminds me a little of tortoiseshell-- isn't it beautiful?) that will probably be grouted in the next day or two.  I'm so glad I got the chance to sneak away; the place has really become a sanctuary for me and I love going by and sneaking some quiet time to imagine the happy adventures the three of us will have in this home.

Can't wait to move in!


Wednesday, February 24, 2010

In Which I Take Things Entirely Too Seriously

Horizon Air has a very clever radio advertising campaign going on right now that involves conversations between Lewis and Clark (you know, of the Lewis and Clark expedition).  When I was driving back from dropping some stuff off at Goodwill today one of the ads came on the radio.

It involved Lewis and Clark talking about the plesiosaur they found in Montana on their journey (yes, they really did find a plesiosaur) and how Horizon air was definitely not a dinosaur or in danger of going extinct any time soon.  I was listening to the ad absentmindedly until they got to the very end.  This is when they make a cheesy joke about why the plesiosaur was petrified.  I'm paraphrasing here, but basically the dialogue went something like:

"I bet he was petrified because of T-Rex!  There he was, just eating some berries and thinking "Hey, I like Montana!" when all of the sudden behind him-- bam!  It was T-Rex!"

Really the ad was funny, I swear.  However, I spent the next fifteen minutes composing a letter in my head to the company about how plesiosaurs were carnivorous and aquatic, with a diet composed primarily of fish.  So unless these were underwater meat berries and T-Rex was snorkeling, this couldn't have happened.  Also plesiosaurs aren't actually classified as dinosaurs, though they lived during the same time period.

This is a big part of why I don't have television reception, folks.  If a radio ad does this to me, you can only imagine what effect crime shows (where all of the evidence magically appears the same day you send it in and the criminal always makes a full confession), law shows (where the lawyer is leading the witness all over the place), or medical shows (where a patient codes and is then completely fine and talking fifteen minutes later) have on me.  When I do watch I spend a lot of time rolling my eyes at the television.       

What can I say?  I'm a stickler for accurate information.  And while I'm well aware that the Lewis and Clark ad thing was a joke, it still bothers me for some unfathomable reason.  Perhaps it's all those dinosaur facts my younger brother drilled into me when I was a kid (he was a dinosaur fanatic).  Perhaps it's because I am weird.  At any rate what this led to was an extensive lecture delivered by me to Connor about the nature of the plesiosaur once I returned home.  Ever tried to fingerspell plesiosaur to a toddler with a thirty second attention span?  It doesn't work out so well.

Oh well.


Tuesday, February 23, 2010

In Which All Is Not Sweetness And Light Around Here

Poor Connor.  This morning when Jeremy left the house, Connor burst into tears and cried so hard he threw up.  He threw up again in the car all over his jacket and his hearing aids and then had a total, sobbing meltdown today at school-- an unheard of occurence.  He's really anxious right now.  I'm sure today's continued packing didn't help any, despite our reassurances that Jeremy wasn't leaving and we were packing because we're all moving to the new house together.  We'll just keep repeating the message and hoping that eventually it will sink in and he'll relax a little bit. 

Guess who else isn't happy? 

That's right.  The cats are freaking out.  Loki reacts to all the changes by becoming super affectionate and extremely enthusiastic about everything-- following me from room to room and bouncing around my ankles while I'm attempting to move things.  Packing is kind of hazardous while he's around because not only does he want to jump in every box, but he also tends to ram his head against the back of my legs right as I am lifting something.  Usually something fragile.

Cricket, on the other hand, is not reacting by being enthusiastically affectionate.  She's reacting by becoming extremely crabby with anyone and everyone.  She growls at Loki.  She growls at the cars driving by outside the window.  She growls at the boxes.  She's been spending a whole lot of time up in the cat tower in the corner of the room where she can see everything, because then there's no chance that Loki or one of the evil cars or boxes could sneak up on her.  She's also shedding like crazy all over everything. 

Of course Loki has been repeatedly attempting to administer his own brand of affectionate reassurance to Cricket.  Here he is trying to get her to let him cuddle, which ended tragically shortly after I took the picture.  This has provided our entertainment while we are taking breaks from packing.

So basically we've got Eeyore, Tigger, and what quite possibly might be the Heffalump all living in our household right now, and this apartment isn't nearly the size of the Hundred Acre Wood. 

Can't wait until we're settled!


Monday, February 22, 2010

In Which Jer Gets Back In The Saddle

Poor Connor spent a good portion of last night throwing up.  So he stayed home from school today and we cleaned out the master bedroom closet.  I did the cleaning part, and he did the lying-around-and-looking-cute-in-between-throwing-up part.  There was one exciting moment when I found a lavender sachet we missed in the Great Lavender Roundup of 2009 (Connor is deathly allergic to lavender, for those who don't know) but otherwise the day was about as scintillating as you might expect of any day in which closet cleaning is the highlight of the activity.  At least it wasn't very exciting in terms of what I did.

What Jeremy did, however, is a whole other story.  My husband got back behind the wheel of a vehicle for the first time since August!  He drove himself to the gym, to physical therapy, and to a bicycle shop (he's considering taking up biking to replace marathon running as his main outdoor hobby).  I must admit that I was a bit nervous about the whole thing-- I sort of carried the phone around with me the entire time he was gone.  I am happy to note that I refrained from calling him eight billion times to ask him if he was fine-- something that took a great deal of self-restraint on my part.  I managed it by reminding myself that he has a good twelve years of prior driving experience to rely on so smothering him might not be a good idea, and also that he wouldn't be picking up the phone anyway as talking on a cell while driving is sort of illegal in this state. 

But I shouldn't have worried, because Jer didn't kill anyone or get into any horrific accidents or anything!  And I'm really excited about him being back behind the wheel because it means that I'm no longer responsible for getting two people to all of their appointments.  Also it gives Jer a lot more freedom, which is probably pretty nice for him.  It's got to be really frustrating to be dependent on someone else whenever you want to pop by the store.  This is one more step down the road to complete recovery for him, and I'm so excited about it!

As an added bonus now I can totally send him to grocery store for more ice cream rather than having to make up an excuse to go get it myself.  I can claim that it's good practice or something.  Score!


In Which The Weather Changes

Today was such a gorgeous day outside-- it really felt like Spring!  We drove by the most beautiful cherry tree in full bloom today-- it looked like a giant frothy pink petticoat.  There are fat, mysterious buds on the rhododendrons that line our fence in the backyard, and I can't wait to see what color they'll turn out to be.

After being in the dark and the gloom that is Seattle winter weather for so long when the sun comes out it's like the entire world goes a little crazy.  A huge flock of crows was doing an elaborate, raucous mating dance in our parking lot this afternoon.  People were out in mass walking their dogs, doing yard work-- any excuse to get out in the sun.  The highways were jammed with people heading out of town and towards the great wild outdoors. 

It's supposed to rain later this week, and we'll be back to the Eeyore weather.  But the nice thing about the sunny day today is that it reminded me that the nights are getting shorter and the worst of the winter is behind us.  Spring is not here yet, but it's reminding us that it's coming.

I kind of feel that way about our situation, too.  I mean, the last six months we've both been doing a whole lot of waiting.  We're unsure of what the future will bring: how far Jeremy will recover, whether or not he'll be able to stay in the military, whether or not Connor's conditions will remain stable, and what the next few years will look like for us as we continue to adjust to the new challenges in our lives.  Being stuck in limbo for so long hasn't been easy.  But I kind of feel like we're coming out of hibernation: that the new house will make things lighter and happier for us, and that we're over the worst of the bad times at least for now.  As I go through the apartment cleaning the clutter out of our closets and from under our bed, it seems like I'm shaking off some of the detritus that's been weighing us down since August.  Today life seemed pretty wonderful, and the sun beaming down was a reminder of just how far we've come. 

We still won't have any answers to those questions once we've moved and the seasons have changed here.  But we'll at least be one step farther down the road.  And I think that waiting for answers in such a beautiful sun-filled place as our new home will be a tremendous help in making the time pass by more easily, if not more quickly.

It's been a long, dark winter.  But I'm pretty sure Spring is on its way.


Sunday, February 21, 2010

In Which Connor Likes His Routine

There's my guys hanging out together-- aren't they cute?

 I'm glad that Jer's able to be home so much, because hopefully having him here will help Connor with the move.

Connor does not like change.  And when I say "does not like," I mean "hates with every fiber of his being."  The kid has a comfortable routine that we follow, and that's how he organizes his world.  When we start switching things up on him, he doesn't take it well.

This is why we will be moving into the new house slowly.

It's already started.  I've been packing up the house, and as a result Connor is now waking up with nightmares.  Horrible screaming nightmares, and he refuses to be calmed down until both Jeremy and I are in the room together.  His fear of the dark, which had tapered off, is now back in full force.  So he's not sleeping well at night, which makes him kind of clingy and crabby during the day.  It also lowers his seizure threshold, though thankfully we haven't had any issues with those since January. 

I'd intended to go over to the new house today and work on the yard, but last night Connor had a particularly bad time, waking up four or five times and crying until he threw up.  So we had a take-it-easy day and I stayed home and cleaned out the pantry instead.  It was a shame, too, because it was a gorgeous day outside and would have been perfect for gardening.

I think it's a combination of his sensory procesessing disorder, which makes him extremely wary of anything new and different, and also his being a toddler.  I think as a general rule three year olds don't deal with change very well.  It's hard being three.

I'm going to ease him into things as much as I can; he's had such a hard time in the last few months with all of the unexpected changes to his cozy little world.  We're keeping his comfort zones-- the places where he eats, naps and plays-- intact until the last minute.  Hopefully that will help keep him grounded.  We're also taking him over to the house as much as possible so that he's used to it and so will hopefully be a little more comfortable with it by the time we move in.  And we're talking with him about the move a lot, taking him around the new house and showing him where his bed will be, looking in the oven and the microwave, and talking about the fun things we'll do there.  I'm hoping this will stave off the worst of the meltdowns and the anxiety, but we'll just have to see.

Anybody have any suggestions for other things we can do to help him make the transtition smoothly?


Friday, February 19, 2010

In Which Rowbert Does Not Emerge Victorious From The Battlefield

Today our mobile tactical defense wheelchair van, Rowbert, was involved in his first major skirmish.  It was not, as expected, with his arch nemesis the Oscar Mayer wienermobile but instead with an extremely beat up pickup truck, and unfortunately he didn't exactly come out on top.  The pickup sustained absolutely no damage, but poor Rowbert now has a sizable dent in his rear bumper, which will have to be replaced. 

Pick Up Truck: 1
Rowbert: 0

No one was hurt-- not even the duck we store in our trunk for parking emergencies-- but the duck will have to ration food for a while as there's a small piece of bumper holding the trunk closed.  Otherwise the van held up very well, and there was no other damage, which is what a bumper is for.  As an added bonus we got to test out the tie-down system on both wheelchairs.  Since there are no Connor-or-Jeremy-sized holes in our windshield, I've come to the conclusion that it works pretty well.  Good to know.

Poor Rowbert.  I'll be setting up an appointment with our mechanic to get our beloved van back up to top fighting condition in no time. 


Hopeful Parents

My monthly article is up over at Hopeful Parents!


In Which Connor's a Stylin' Kid

Connor finally went back to school today! 

He actually didn't miss that many days because there was no school Friday and Monday due to President's Day, and he always has Wednesdays off.  So all in all it wasn't a bad week to miss; he was only absent three days.  I think he was pretty happy to be back at school; he's been rather bored sitting around the house, and I haven't had a lot of time to play with him because I've been busy packing.

I hauled a huge load of stuff over to the Goodwill today; a lot of Connor's old clothes that don't fit him any more were in there, as well as toys that he's grown out of developmentally (and I can't tell you how excited I am to be able to say that he's grown out of some toys developmentally!).  I almost always donate our things to Goodwill rather than trying to sell them at a consignment shop because of all of the work the store does to help people who have various disabilities; I feel like that's a cause I can really get behind. 

I did end up having to throw some of Connor's old clothes away, though, because they were past saving.  Other moms I know with typical children talk all the time about how their kids outgrow their clothing a mere month or two after they buy it so it doesn't get a lot of wear and tear, but that's not the case in our household.  Because Connor is growth restricted, he grows very, very slowly.  Currently he's at the bigger end of 2T clothes, and the kid will be four in April.  Granted, it's not like he's running through the mud or snagging them on things while climbing or something, but he makes up for that by drooling and throwing up on them all the time.  We generally go through two or three outfits in a typical day and four to seven on a day he's sick.  All that washing and chocolate pediasure eventually just wears them out. 

I'm going to be happy when he's on the next size up, because I keep seeing all of these cute clothes I want to get him and there's no room in his closet right now. 

I always shop for myself at the thrift store because in my mind it seems ridiculous to pony up eighty dollars for a pair of jeans with holes in the knees when I can get them, already distressed in the appropriate places, for seven bucks at the aforementioned Goodwill.  Somehow all my common sense goes out the window when it comes to Connor's clothes, though.  Despite the fact that at the children's clothing boutiques the kid's shirts are the same price as mine but are made of a third of the material, I can't resist buying him the latest styles even as expensive as they are.  Or at least any of the latest styles that have a monster or a dinosaur on it.  I'm a sucker for monsters and dinosaurs.  Also pirates.  Yarr!

So because I don't ever want to spend any money on clothes for myself but spend it on Connor's clothes all the time, and also because half the time I don't bother to put on makeup or do my hair when we go out, it probably looks a little odd when we're together.  Kind of like I'm the hired stroller pusher and he doesn't pay me nearly a large enough salary.  I'm pretty sure that would change if monster and dinosaur shirts come into fashion for women my age.  Then I'd give Connor a run for his money.

I think I'd make a pretty awesome pirate, too.


Thursday, February 18, 2010

In Which We Still Have Too Much Stuff

We've only been in this apartment for a year. 

Where did all of this stuff come from? 

Seriously, I keep opening up cabinets to pack them, and there is stuff everywhere.  Stuff I have absolutely no recollection of acquiring.  This shouldn't come as a surprise, I guess; we had the same problem the last time we moved and so why I thought we somehow had less stuff now than we did back then is a bit of a mystery. 

Other than books, of course.  I know we have more books.  Current count is probably around 1300 or so, and that's probably a low estimate.  If the army was moving us our entire weight allowance would probably be books, and I would gladly forgo valuable pieces of heavy furniture to keep my collection together because that's how screwed up my priorities are.  Luckily we are moving ourselves so we have no such weight restrictions other than what the floors of our house will support, but no doubt Jeremy and I will have the same discussion we did last time over whether or not we are allowed to take any books to the bookstore to sell (we're not allowed to, just in case you were wondering). 

The only books I'm wavering on are the pregnancy books.  Because justifying holding on to them by claiming that a pregnant friend might want to borrow them is sort of weak, and it's not like I'm going to need them again given the fact that we are adopting the rest of our kids.  Nor are they the types of books that I will can see myself sitting in an armchair in our new library leafing through, perhaps chuckling over especially funny bits (nausea, constipation and placentas!  good times!).  So they may end up at the local used bookstore. 

All other books are treasured companions and will be held onto until they fall apart and I have to hold a small but elegant service for them and bury them in the backyard.  I will erect tiny bookend monuments in their honor. 

But back to the stuff.  I'm finding things that I swear I threw out the last time we moved.  I clearly remember putting these things in the pile to be donated or thrown away, and yet here they are, sitting smugly on the backs of shelves where I shoved them last May and then never looked at them again.  I suspect that some of these persistent items simply snuck off the correct piles and into boxes during the great rush at the last minute.  This was the time when I was no longer packing in a methodical organized fashion, carefully wrapping each item and placing it in an appropriately labeled box, but was instead frantically throwing whatever I laid my hands on into a container and hoping that when I taped it shut I would not have accidently included the cats, or possibly my husband, in the contents packed inside.  Or if I had that they would at least have enough air to make it to the new apartment. 

Anyway I'm hoping that this time I'll be able to actually succeed in getting rid of some of this stuff.  But given my past track record I wouldn't count on it. 


Wednesday, February 17, 2010

In Which I Show You The House As It Currently Stands

Here's that picture-heavy house update as promised!

Just look at that beautiful fireplace!  All of the stone went on today-- including a beautiful flagstone mantelpiece-- and the floors are now finished in the mudroom, bathrooms, kitchen, dining room, living room, and library!  All of the indoor light fixtures are in, and the mudroom bench is painted.  The kitchen vent and Connor's ceiling are both primed and ready for their faux paint treatment.  This is a very long, very picture heavy post, so I'm putting in a jump so it won't take forever to load.  You can click on "read more" or on the title of the post to see all the pictures.  I've included "before" shots so you can see just how amazing the transformation has been so far!

As an aside, please note that all of the furniture in the before shots is not mine, but the previous owner's furniture, as I took the pictures shortly before we closed on the house.  While I freely admit that I am rather odd, I do not keep a display case full of gift boxes in my family room.  Really, I swear.

Anyway, on to the pictures!

Monday, February 15, 2010

In Which The House Is Almost Finished And I Am Behind On Packing

Oh man, I'd better hurry up on the packing. 

We met with Becky of Signature Custom Homes over at the house today, and they plan to be finished in a week!  You wouldn't believe how quickly things are moving over at the house now.  While we were there they were hard at work on the beautiful floors; they'd already finished the kitchen, library, and living room, and were up to the entryway when we left.  The second coat of paint on the walls and all of the touchup paint had been finished.  A stunning mudroom bench had also been added in the laundry room as a surprise!  Pictures tomorrow, as I didn't bring over my camera tonight. 

I can't believe that we're that close to moving in!  I have some serious packing to do-- I've been slacking off in a major way since we've all been sick over here.  Jeremy is pretty much over his illness, though he's still a little tired.  I'm still pretty lethargic and still have a sore throat, but otherwise I'm good.  Connor had a lot more energy today, but he's still snorting like a miniature enraged bull.  He's down for the night, and it's really easy to make sure that he's still breathing right now because we can hear the rattling snores quite clearly through the monitor.  We'll see how he feels tomorrow, but my guess is he'll probably miss yet another day of school.  Luckily it was a holiday today and he has Wednesdays off so he's missed less school than he would have otherwise.  I'm sure by Thursday he'll be well enough to go back.

I'll be really happy when he's not sick anymore, because while he has a stuffy nose he becomes a mouth breather, and somehow while he's breathing through his mouth he loses the ability to swallow anything.  We're talking massive amounts of drool here.  He's soaking through three or four outfits a day right now.  He also doesn't want to eat anything by mouth, of course, because he doesn't want to have to try to breathe through his nose while he swallows.  Thank goodness we have the g-tube! 

Also thank goodness for washing machines!  I don't even want to think about how much fun all this stuff would be to wash by hand.


In Which We Have A Good, If Not Particularly Romantic, Valentine's Day

Everybody is still a little bit under the weather here, but we're definitely on the mend, and we felt well enough to venture out for the first time in several days.  We figured that we shouldn't be horribly contagious anymore, and it was Valentine's Day and all so we felt obligated to go on some sort of date, even if it included a snotty, yelling third wheel. 

We went to the bookstore, of course.  Being cooped up in the house for several days really wiped us out as far as reading material goes, and the library was already closed.  Being all about instant gratification around here, we didn't want to wait until tomorrow to pick up new reading material. 

As an aside, Jeremy is currently multitasking by reading and playing World of Warcraft at the same time. He's talented like that.

Connor did pretty well on the outing, though he still has a pretty nasty hacking cough.  He's in that stage where he's still too sick to have a lot of energy, but well enough that he's horribly bored of being cooped up at home.  So he was pretty happy to be out and about, but by the time we'd grabbed some dinner and found our books he was drooping in his wheelchair.  Poor little guy. 

So we drove back home and tucked Connor into bed, where he crashed in about five minutes.  Today was also the first day in almost a week that he didn't take a three and a half hour nap in the morning (usually he doesn't nap at all) so he was completely wiped.  I'm hoping tomorrow he'll have enough energy to be able to brave the crowds when we venture out for Half Price Chocolate Day.  We're serious about our chocolate.  I hope we can find some good sales!

Happy Valentine's Day, everyone!


Sunday, February 14, 2010

In Which I Take It Easy

Thankfully I think we're over the worst of the dreaded Martian Death Flu here; Connor sounded much better today and his fever is gone, which I'm thankful for.  Hopefully he'll be feeling up to his old self by Monday.

I spent most of the day taking it easy, reading, and watching movies on YouTube.  While it's fairly old, I thought this tongue-in-cheek take on how people interact with those who have disabilities was worth sharing with you all.  Many of you may have already seen it:

You can find the second half of the video also on YouTube, and it's well worth watching. 

All right.  Cop out day is over-- I swear I'll write a decent blog tomorrow.


Saturday, February 13, 2010

In Which The Martians Have Landed

There's a new epidemic going around town, and H1N1 has got nothin' on it.  Run in terror, folks, because it's Martian Death Flu season, and our household is contaminated.

That's right.  You'd better burn your computer after reading this, because the dread disease is so contagious that I'm pretty sure it can be transmitted by Internet contact.  Martian Death Flu is coming for you all.

First identified by eminent scientist Dave Berry back in 1986, Martian Death Flu (MDF) has been a minor problem, affecting only two or three people a year until now, when lax regulations on the importation of Martians caused an outbreak of the disease among fourteen year old girls across the nation.  From there it rapidly spread to the rest of the population, and now we're on the brink of a pandemic.  Once MDF is contracted, there's nothing to do except take to your bed or couch for a week and hope that a meteor will fall on your house and put you out of your misery. 

I'm sure my research on the origin of MDF is accurate, because watching Lady Gaga videos to figure out which one to link to this post also made me wish for death.  And here's another important fact: 1986, when Mr. Berry wrote his groundbreaking article, just happens to be the year that Lady Gaga was born.  Coincidence?  I think not. 

With any luck today was the worst day for Jeremy and me, and we'll have the weekend to recover slowly.  I'm really hoping I'll have regrown all of my taste buds by Monday, as my favorite holiday of the year-- Half Price Chocolate Day-- is happening then.  I burned the entire top surface of my tongue off by drinking copious amounts of scalding hot tea with lemon in a misguided attempt to melt my lungs to the inside of my body in order to prevent myself from ejecting them while coughing.  For future reference, this does not work.  All it does is make everything you eat taste even more like cardboard than it did when you still had taste buds.

Connor, I'm sad to say, is definitely not over the worst of it yet-- he's still running a low-grade fever and his nasty, lung-ejecting cough seems to be taking up residence long term.  I'm kind of hoping at this point that he doesn't end up with bronchitis. 

Bronchitis, for those of you who don't know, is when a brontosaurus stomps on you, making it hard to breathe.  At least that's how Jeremy explained it to Connor earlier today.  Apparently not very many people get it because brontosauruses (brontosauri?) are few and far between, making it very difficult to catch.  I'm not sure exactly what the correlation between the Martians and the dinosaurs is, but apparently they work together or something.  No doubt the government has covered it up in an attempt to prevent widespread panic.  We'll have to ask the velociraptors about it when we have the energy to drag ourselves out to the van.

But there's no need to panic, folks: while a vaccination for the direct transfer of Martian Death Flu has yet to be developed (so if you come into physical contact with us you are DOOMED) there's a simple inoculation available for the electronic transference of the disease.  Simply barricade yourselves in your homes, turn off your computers, and listen to eight hours or so of public radio programming.  This should stave off any ill side effects you might experience after coming into contact with Martians, brontosauri, or fourteen year old girls for at least a good forty five minutes.

One final note: I'm pretty sure that when my children are adults, rather than spending hours explaining why they were so traumatized by their childhoods they'll just direct their therapists to this website. 

It'll save everybody a whole lot of time. 


Thursday, February 11, 2010

In Which I Jump On The Bandwagon

Well, we're all about solidarity in this house, so my body decided to be sick too as a show of support for the rest of the family.


So basically Jer and I spent the entire day alternating who was watching Connor.  The other person was either in the shower or taking a nap.  We drank copious amounts of limeade and/or hot tea with lemon, and the only time either of us made it to the front door was to pay the pizza guy and collect our dinner.  Connor spent the whole day cycling through his wardrobe and coughing all over everything.  Otherwise he was in pretty good spirits.  He'll probably be on the mend and pretty feisty tomorrow, which by my calculations should be when I'm in my JUST KILL ME AND PUT ME OUT OF MY MISERY stage of the proceedings.  Of course, he'll still be too sick to go to school, preventing me from simply foisting him off on someone else so I can wallow in my own misery for a few hours.  Dang it.

The worst part is that I can't eat chocolate to feel better, because I can't taste anything so it would be a horrible waste of chocolate.  Guess I'll just drink some more limeade.  Limeade is an extremely poor substitute for chocolate.



In Which Connor Feels Under The Weather

Okay, I know I just posted pictures of the house, but they put in this gorgeous kitchen faucet today and I had to show it off.  Other newly installed things today include a large portion of the lighting (including that awesome chandelier in the library), the oven, cook top, vent, microwave, utility sink, and the adjustable shower head in our master bath.  So exciting!

And now for something completely different.

I'm sad to say that I think Connor is feeling a bit under the weather.  He had six meltdowns today and it's highly unusual for him to have even one.  He's been having some allergy trouble as of late, but I'm pretty sure that he woke up this morning with a cold on top of that-- he's been doing a lot of coughing and he's definitely irritable.  Unfortunately Jer had all sorts of appointments today, so instead of staying home and taking it easy Connor had to spend a bunch of time in the car.  The only thing that would make him stop crying was listening to his current favorite song: "Rock And Roll" by Eric Hutchinson.  All I can say is that while it is a distinct improvement over "Twinkle Twinkle Little Star," it sort of loses its appeal after the thirtieth time you've heard it.  Also it's not exactly kid appropriate, but it kept him quiet so we listened to it anyway.  Not one of my better parenting moments.  Oh well.

So tomorrow he'll be staying home even if he's feeling better; we tend to error on the side of caution there since some of the other kids in his class are also pretty fragile.  I'm not expecting Connor to feel better tomorrow, however-- whenever he gets a cold it tends to linger for a week or two.  He also goes on a hunger strike, which was a lot more worrisome when we didn't have the g-tube.  That little device has been such a blessing.

Jeremy announced this evening that he's feeling a little under the weather as well.  Hopefully I will manage to dodge the bullet on this one; there's nothing more miserable than having to take care of a sick kid while you are also sick.  Except perhaps taking care of a kid who is not sick while you are sick, which is what happens when the kid gets sick first and then gets over it before you do. 

It's a toss-up.


Tuesday, February 9, 2010

In Which I Am Two Places At Once

What a crazy, crazy day today.

Due to both the extreme difficulty of getting appointments and the fact that I am insane, the guys both ended up having appointments today.  At hospitals on the opposite sides of Seattle.  A half an hour apart from each other.


So I dropped for Jeremy off for his appointment with the orthopedic surgeon a full hour early and then booked it over to Children's for Connor's neurology appointment, which ended up lasting a little over three hours since we needed to draw labs.  They ended up getting Jeremy in for his appointment early, which meant the poor guy had to sit around in the hospital reading, rotating benches every once in a while so it would look like he was there for a legitimate reason.

Both appointments went well; the neurologist adjusted Connor's medication again, and Jeremy's orthopedic surgeon was very encouraged by how Jeremy is recovering.  We had plenty of time to discuss the appointments in the car on the way home because we got stuck in rush hour traffic.  It was unusually quiet in the car otherwise, because Connor was still pouting due to the blood draw.  He basically sat back there sniffing dramatically, asking for his daddy, and shooting me the occasional wounded glare in the rear view mirror for the entire ride home.

We met Joanna at the door and left the still pouty Connor with her while we dashed off to sign class, where I watched our teacher make all sorts of pretty motions with her hands that I'm pretty sure normally I would recognize as, you know, words.  My brain basically decided that it didn't want to participate anymore.  Hopefully the teacher took my glazed expression as a sign of extreme attentiveness.  Oh well.

Good night.


Monday, February 8, 2010

In Which The House Is Coming Along!

Big things have been happening over at the house, folks.

The crews from the various fantastic companies that have been helping us out have been working extremely hard over the last week, and look at the gorgeous results!

Except for the three foot long lowered roll-in area of the island (which will go at the end closest to the cabinets), the granite has all been installed in the kitchen and both the bathrooms, and I can't get over just how beautiful it looks.  Is this really the kitchen I get to cook in?  I can't wait to pull out my recipe file and get crackin', and I'm pretty sure the food will taste better just by association with this place!  And I'm totally, completely in love with the granite in both bathrooms, but especially in the guest bathroom.  I love those huge swirls of color-- it reminds me of tin roof ice cream.  Yum.

And just today Meridian Plumbing put in both toilets, the faucets in both bathrooms, and most of the shower heads!  Tomorrow I believe they'll be installing the dishwasher drawer and working on some more of the plumbing. 

Okay, is it weird to say that I really like the toilets?  Maybe that's weird.  Oh well-- I'm going to say it anyway.  I really like the toilets.  They're the elongated bowl variety with the higher profile so that they're easier to transfer to, which is very cool.  Yes, I think even our toilets are cool.  Moving on.

All of the rest of the appliances except the fridge and the washer and dryer also arrived today!  So we now have a cook top, oven, and microwave waiting for installation in addition to the dishwasher drawer.  As if that wasn't enough, the flooring also arrived.  It's currently sitting in the house acclimating so it won't expand or contract significantly after it is installed.  We went with some beautiful medium-tone maple laminate floors, which should hold up well under the wheelchairs.  I'm maybe the most excited about the floors out of all the things happening over there this week; I keep imagining how the house is going to look with them in and I have no doubt that the reality is going to be way more stunning than anything my imagination has come up with.  The floors should go in this week so I'll be able to find out soon!
They are really working hard over there to get the house ready.  I think I'd better finish up my packing so we're ready to move in as soon as they're finished-- it wouldn't do for me to start slacking off now!


Sunday, February 7, 2010

In Which Jeremy Walks Without Crutches!

I thought you guys might want to see the incredible progress that Jeremy's been making!  So I forced him to do another video for you all.  Aren't I sweet? 

Here he is back on January 6th, for your comparison.  It's been almost exactly a month since I took that video, and the difference is astonishing.  He's been working extremely hard to rebuild muscle and improve his flexibility and balance; he's spending three to four hours at the gym six days out of the week and going to physical therapy three times a week on top of that. 

He's still uses the wheelchair whenever we'll be out and about for more than half an hour or so, or when there's uneven terrain or bad weather, but I wouldn't be surprised if by next month he's out of the wheelchair entirely given the rate he's going!


Saturday, February 6, 2010

Ask Jer: Third Edition

Now that you have lived multiple levels of mobility from fully mobile to wheelchair to crutches (and hopefully fully mobile again soon)you have a unique perspective on the challenges most of us don't even realize exist during day to day living. What changes would you make to the world to make life easier for others who live with these challenges everyday. Stores? Restaurants? Airplanes? Schools? Homes?

I can think of two big things that I had issues with.
First is space. The wheelchair, and to a lesser extent crutches, require more space to get around with than walking on feet. At several restaurants I became trapped after patrons sat down at tables. We had to ask people to get out of their seats so that I could get through. Also, at stores that had very narrow aisles I tended to knock a lot of stuff off of shelves.

Second is slanted ground. Going uphill wasn't too bad unless it was really steep. Trying to travel across a slanted surface, however, is incredibly difficult in a chair. You have to spin your wheels at two different speeds. I always expended a lot of energy in those situations.

I didn't get on any airplanes except for the medevac aircraft. I was carried onto those on a stretcher and I remember very little about them anyway. I learned that if you stack morphine and ambien (a sleep aid) you can sleep all the way across the Atlantic.

Houses can be an issue since most of them have a step or steps at the entryway. Door width can also be a knuckle scraping issue.

When you have mastered the remote control Rowbert stupidity elimination program can we send you GPS locations where Rowbert is needed?

Yes. Provided he has enough fuel of course. If we could program him with a limited AI then he could probably fuel himself up. We could also add a prowl feature and he could go searching for stupidites to slaughter.

What happened to your tarantula?

It didn't last too long. I had a wolf spider that I captured underneath the band hall. That spider lasted a lot longer than the tarantula. In the end, though, they both died. I'm not sure what the life span is on them. They both ate quite a few moths though.

Friday, February 5, 2010

In Which Something Faintly Happen Almost Good English

I'm been lightly getting a lot of spam green comments recently.  They mostly show up in my inbox, as I have comments on blog posts that are more than seven days old set to "published after approval."  I would do something about the spam, but to tell you the truth I don't really want to. 
Yes, I have a sad little secret to share with you all; while I would never ever allow them to stay in the comments here, I actually enjoy reading them
This is because the grammar, spelling and punctuation are so delightfully horrible.  This is Engrish at its finest, folks, and I can't help but chuckle every time I read one.  Take one of today's examples (with the links and product names removed, of course):
"Traverse Our Faint Prices at (insert spam website here), the Famed Online Chemist's workshop To Buy (insert spam product here) Online!  You Can also Suppose Mammoth Deals When You Buy (insert other spam product here) and When You You Buy (ditto) Online.  We Also Be subjected to a Massive Generic (ditto again) as a help to Your Provisions!  We Push Hawser of ouevre hear high consider (still more spam product) and Also Generic (final spam product)!"
Hawser of ouevre (sic)?  Is that a cable towing a ship full of the spammer's badly spelled work, or what?  Hilarious. 
Here's another one from today:
"Hello everyone!
I would like to burn a theme at here.  There is such a nicey, called (spam product).  It reminds of financial piramyde, but in rare cases one may happen to meet a company that really pays up to 2% daily not from real money, but from profits.
For several years, I made money with the help of these programs. 
I don't have problems with money now, but there are heights that must be conquered.  I make 2G daily, and I started with funny 500 bucks.  Right now, I managed to catch a guarenteed varient to make a sharp rise.  Visit my web site to get additional info."
That was some nicey spam!  Seriously, who writes this stuff?  I really, really hope it is not someone with English as a first language, because if someone who is a native speaker is creating these I'm pretty sure we are doomed as a society.  DOOMED.
I am cautiously optimistic for our chances, though, because there are some spammers who seem to know how to string a coherent-- albeit a little odd-- sentence together.  These are usually the ones that sound like they could be a legitimate comment until the very end, where they throw in something totally off-topic.  I received this one a few weeks ago:
"Thanks for the informative information- I enjoyed reading it!  I always enjoy this blog. :) Cheers, video clips of women giving birth."
On second thought, after reading this I changed my mind about the being hopeful thing.  Pretty sure we're doomed.
I have a little hall-of-fame style word document on my computer where I keep my favorite sentences; how sad is that?  And now that the blog's been around for a while, I'm not just getting spam in English.  I'm getting it in Korean, Chinese, French, German, and Greek.  International spam!  I kind of wish I knew what those e-mails said, because I bet I'm missing out on a few really good ones. 
I've also been tossing around the idea of trying to write an Engrish novella.  It would be 18,000 words that sound like they could almost go together but don't quite mesh well enough to make any sense, with a plot to match!  I need more research material though, so I'll keep the spam filters off. 
I am way, way too easily amused. 

Thursday, February 4, 2010

In Which Jer Proves His Sainthood

Tonight Jer and I went out on a date to see A Prairie Home Companion broadcast live in one of our local movie theaters! 

For those of you who don't know about A Prairie Home Companion (and if you don't, shame on you!), it's a comedic variety radio show that's been on the air in one form or the other since 1974, and its heart and soul is a man named Garrison Keillor.  The man is a incredible sort of English major Jack of All Trades, a tireless promoter of the English language in general, and one of my personal idols.

Jeremy taking me to see the show?  That's proof right there that the man really, really loves me-- though I could have told you that already, of course.  It was raining and nasty outside.  He doesn't really like folk music or gospel music.  The man mostly listens to 80's heavy metal.  He could care less about the news from Lake Wobegon (even if the children are all above average), and yet he not only willingly went with me to sit in a dark theater for two hours to listen to all of the above, he actually encouraged me to buy the tickets, and he went without a single complaint. 

Major brownie points earned, right there. 

He's getting around much, much better these days-- spending as much time as possible up on the crutches.  I'll have to take another video so that you can see the drastic improvement!  He's still having some issues with swelling and he's still in the wheelchair most of the time, but he's really making some major progress.  We can often be found together in the mornings in cycling class, and while he has to lean on the handlebars quite a bit he's able to stand up on the pedals!  The next big step will be to transition to crutches full time, and from there he'll be going to a cane.  I think it's a big relief for him to actually be able to do something; he likes to keep busy and it was pretty hard for him to be off his feet for so long.  Can you believe that on February 11th it'll have been six months since I got that horrible phone call?  It just doesn't seem possible.

I bet he'll be using a cane by the time I drag him to the live production of A Prairie Home Companion when it comes here in March!


Wednesday, February 3, 2010

In Which Connor Gains Some Skills!

As you may or may not know, Connor used to be tongue-tied.  Ankyloglossia is the technical term for this, if you'd like to look it up.  Basically the little band of tissue, called the frenulum, under his tongue was too tight: so tight that he couldn't even stick his tongue out of his mouth.  Due to the wide variety of other medical issues we were dealing with at the time, we waited until after he was two years old before we had it corrected, so he wasn't able to really move his tongue around his mouth at all until he was two.

That just makes his new habit all the more adorable. 

Whenever Connor is concentrating very hard on doing something now, he sticks his tongue out.  And not just a little bit out, but way out.  Think Michael Jordon.  Anyway, it's really, really cute and it makes me giggle every time I see it. 

And we've been seeing it a lot recently, because the little guy has been picking up some new skills!  One of the things that's new is that awesome torso twist in the picture above.  Think about all of the coordination this involves; he has to see and focus on the toy, twist his torso, reach across midline, and push the yellow button (the green one only sounds one note, and he wants the toy to play music) to get the toy to play.  He's pretty accurate!  The torso twisting is his newest skill, and it's really exciting because it means he's really getting comfortable coordinating his movements!  He much more confident about twisting to the left and using his right hand than he is about twisting to the right and using his left, but maybe that skill will also come in time.

He's also making some big jumps on the sensory front!  Check out this video-- and that adorable tongue once again-- of him playing with a vibrating pig toy while sitting on a swing at physical therapy today!  He hadn't quite figured out how to activate it yet; he knew exactly where the button was but he kept trying to grab it and pull instead of pushing it so he needed a little help initially.  By the end of the PT session he was really jamming on that button, though!  He also very quickly figured out that if the pig giggled before it started vibrating, than it wouldn't be playing music and he needed to hit it again.  This is extremely encouraging not just because he's allowing both hands, including that super-sensitive left hand, to rest on the pig (a task that would have caused a total, teary-eyed meltdown a year ago) but also because it demonstrates that he's problem solving.  In the past it's usually taken him a couple of weeks to figure out how to activate a new toy even with coaching and reinforcement, but today it only took him about forty minutes! 

I can't wait to see what he's sticking his tongue out about next!


Tuesday, February 2, 2010

In Which Connor Is An Entirely Too Early Bird

So I bought a domain name today and I'll be playing with a new collaborative project over the next few weeks! Should be fun-- I'll let you all know when it's up and running.

This morning, Connor’s internal alarm went off at four in the morning, and nothing and nobody was going to get him to go back to sleep. I changed his diaper, he was already eating (via pump) so obviously he wasn’t hungry, and he was already in our bedroom so he wasn’t lonely either. Jeremy and I ended up lying in bed listening to him talk and sing to himself for the next three hours until it was our normal time to get up. Thank goodness for massive amounts of caffeine, that’s all I have to say.

So instead of working out in the morning, I went back to sleep while Connor was at school. I didn’t quite make up the total time lost, but I got enough to not be a total zombie.

Of course this was Connor’s heavy day at school today, so when he got home he zonked out and slept for almost three and a half hours. For a kid who normally spends his hour long “quiet time” playing with his fingers, singing little songs to himself and generally doing anything BUT sleeping, this was rather unusual. Then, ensuring that he’d thrown his sleep pattern entirely off, he didn’t fall asleep tonight until after nine.

We’re probably going to have a slightly crabby kid tomorrow when I wake him up for feeding therapy. Oh well. If he wakes up and four in the morning tomorrow we’re going to have a more-than-crabby ME to deal with too. 

I like my sleep.

Monday, February 1, 2010

In Which I Talk About The Home And Garden Show

So the Tacoma Home and Garden Show on Saturday was fantastic! There were literally hundreds of different displays-- everything from flower seed vendors (I bought myself some purple poppies) to roofers to cookware sellers to interior designers. It was really neat to get a chance to see the latest products and to get an idea of some of the trends for 2010!

We didn't linger over any particular site because Connor was a tad bit (read: WAY WAY WAY) overstimulated what with the crowd and the noise and the lights, so we just did a quick run-through of everything. It still took us almost three hours just to go through all the displays, though, which tells you how big the show was!

While I enjoyed looking around at all of the gorgeous displays, I really had my eye out for evidence of Universal Design. Universal Design, for those of you who don't know, is based around the idea of designing beautiful spaces and objects for use by everyone-- not just those between the ages of 14 and 70 without any disabilities. Our home is being remodeled using Universal Design principles, and to my mind they make perfect sense; in fact I sort of wonder why it's taken so long to catch on. It's getting harder and harder to visit the homes of a lot of our friends; almost all of the homes around here have entryways with a number of steps up to the front porch, as well as narrow hallways and bathrooms. There's also the fact that people age and can no longer stay in homes with long stairways, inaccessible storage, and so on, not to mention that injury or illness can strike without warning at any age, making living in a nonaccessible space extremely difficult. You can read more about the principles of Universal Design here.

While formerly a luxury trend, the good news is that it looks like Universal Design is finally starting to trickle down into mainstream design! French door refrigerators with wheelchair-friendly bottom freezers were standard fare in almost all of the display kitchens. Front loading washers and dryers were also in evidence, and we saw several accessible toilets and roll-in showers. There were a few vendors who even had displays that specifically mentioned accessible design and pictured some beautiful examples. Most, if not all of these were directed at those who wished to "age-in-place," however, and I never actually saw the words Universal Design mentioned anywhere.
There were still a lot of examples of the type of nursing-home/hospital THIS PERSON IS DISABLED AND THEREFORE WON'T CARE IF THEIR HOUSE IS UGLY design that has no doubt been frustrating disabled homeowners for years. With one lovely stainless steel exception all of the grab bars I saw were the white ho hum variety. There were also a number of hideous prefab roll-in shower designs (I know they're supposed to be inexpensive, but surely it is possible to design a remotely attractive accessible one that doesn't have the white molded tile, right?) and several prominently displayed walk-in tubs, which have yet to graduate from the all-white-acrylic-box look. Jacuzzi has made a slight effort, offering theirs in almond, white, oyster and black, and outfitting them with jet and Chromatherapy lighting systems, but they still have a long way to go on the appealing design front.
I saw zero examples of accessible landscaping, however. That was sort of depressing.

Anyway, back to the good stuff! I saw several companies that would retrofit cabinets for sliding shelves. Also in evidence was the current trend of oversized cabinet pulls, which offered a lot of variety. My personal favorites were these awesome climbing guys from the Soko San Francisco Manhandles collection, which were way, way out of my price range. But hey, a girl can dream, right? Wouldn't they be fantastic on those built-ins in Connor's room?

I'm encouraged by what I saw at the show, and am hopeful that Universal Design principles will continue to trickle down into more affordable ranges for those of us that don't have huge design budgets but want to keep our houses looking like homes and not medical facilities. I'll be headed to the Seattle Home Show in a couple of weeks and I can't wait to see what I'll find there!
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