Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Swings

So, we made some cool therapy swings for Paige in the basement. Weeeee!

ALERT
Let me be the first to say we are not swing experts; but used the suggestions of a very well respected Occupational Therapist/Dr. after observing her own swings in her own clinic in her basement. If you use our following suggestions, we are not responsible for injuries or damages! Try this stuff at your own risk. These are HOME MADE therapy swings.
ALERT OVER

First, we secured the swings to a floor joist in the basement. This is the only kind of place that can support this kind of weight; you know? We used one of those huge 6 inch anchoring screws. Here's a photo of one:
bigscrew

We made an inner tube swing. I went to tire shop that specializes in tires for commercial trucks, tractors, etc. They sell lots of sizes of inner tubes and I told them what sort of size I needed (big, and about 4 feet-ish for the tire) and we guessed. The tube is a touch smaller than I'd planned, but it still works great. They blew the tire up for me. Also, I didn't get it used because it would have black residue all over it. eeeek.
There was a HUGE nozzle thingie coming off the tube so I had to wrap it in duct tape around and around the tire to secure it against the tire so it wasn't sticking out. Aesthetics are not important with this stuff.
Chris secured some rope (the kind that supports 250 pounds of weight or something) to the tire and to a carabiner (from Home Depot) which is all connected to the giant screw in the ceiling. You can sort of study the photo to see the setup. Chris made a sort of "chain" out of the rope, so if the tire needs to raise up or down in height, it can simply link into one of those little holes. You can sort of see them in the photo tailing off to the left.
tireswing1


We have a huge old mattress underneath the swing for safety. Paige likes to drape her body through the middle hole and lay on her belly. She then sort of runs around and swings in circles and left to right, super-hero style.
The trick to this is to raise the tire high enough to keep Paige from wanting to lean all the way through to try and touch the mattress with her hands. She was constantly falling out of the tire on her head. So, we got the height up enough so that she didn't dare try to lean forward to touch. She just knows it's too far down to reach.
This kind of swinging is something I remember from my elementary school days on the regular strap swings at the playground. I would lie on my belly and swing. But, Paige can't reach those yet and this allows her more circling movement since it's hanging from one point. If the tire were bigger, and when Paige gets older, she could SIT in the middle hole (like sitting on a horse) and hug it. She could hold a stretchy piece of therapy band or fabric with me holding the other end to pull her all different directions on the swing. It's relaxing and fun. Just ideas.
tireswing2

So, that's the inner tube swing. The point of it is to give Paige deep pressure sensory input through her belly while she satisfies her need for spinning and swinging. After time on this swing, Paige is more alert, focused, and "organized." Her language usage spikes and she is able to express herself so much better. I'm told this is because the swing gives her body the sensory input it needs so she can focus on the tasks at hand. It sort of "tunes out" all the things that distract her so she can concentrate and focus. It's like it clears out the cobwebs and suddenly she's able to be in the moment. Her motor skills also become more refined and exact. I'm told this is because she has a better feel for where her body is in space, thus moving more carefully.
No matter what, I LOVE this swing and what it does for her.

The other swing; with the same sorts of benefits and uses is the hammock/blanket swing.

This swing is made of stretchy fleece and acts like a hammock. It works like a blankie taco with Paige as the filling. LOL. It is hanging from the same kind of screw and rope set up that the inner tube has.

blanketswing1

I got 3 yards of the stretch fleece (fabric stores or Walmart carries it) and I sewed a sort of pocket into each end. The pocket is about a foot wide (I folded the pocket over to the 24 inch mark in). I sewed across, but using several little vertical lines to keep it from ripping apart from the weight of the person inside. Here's a photo of the tons of little vertical lines. You can see if you look closely.
blanketswingstitch

Once all sewed, I threaded each pocket onto a U-Bolt piece of hardware I found at Ace hardware that looks like this: (it's a big one; maybe 5 inches or 6 inches across).
http://www.nutty.com/ubolts.shtml
If you look at the diagram in that link, you can see a sort of plate with nuts on the other side that keep the plate on. I also got 2 more nuts to go on the other side of the plate and tightened both together to keep them from just unscrewing over time. In all, I got 2 u-bolts and 4 additional nuts.

Anyway, I threaded this through each pocket and secured all the nuts. I was left with what looks like a gigantic blue handbag. LOL. I simply put the two handles onto a carabiner and clipped it to the rope. The rope was tied with many loops, again, for easy height adjusting.
blanketswing2

We have ours hanging mere inches off the floor because we use it for Paige to lay on her belly with her arms out. Her arms touch the floor so she can move herself in different directions and in circles. We often spread puzzle pieces out all over the place and she has to "fly around" to gather them and put them into the puzzle. She gets a lot of input in her stomach and has fun all the while. It also satisfies her need to swing and spin. She also loves to "be an airplane" with her arms out to the sides while I push her back and forth and all around.
Also, she can lay on her back inside the hammock with her knees bent gently. She gets lost in there! I gently sway her from side to side while she rests. It's very calming and relaxing for her when she's in the mood for it.

I intend to provide photos of these swings in action once I get Chris down there to help her swing while I take the photos.
I hope this post made some sort of sense. I'm no engineer nor am I an expert at explaining things! I hope the photos can do all the talking; let me know if you need any clarification.

And please know that Paige doesn't always want to do the swings even when she needs them. I encourage her by saying some beloved toy wants to swing. "C'mon Paige! Big dinosaur wants to swing! Let's go!" or "Dollie really wants to swing, lets help her!" We give the toy a turn and inevitably Paige wants a turn after that. But I NEVER force her to do it. It's totally up to her in terms of when she starts and when she stops. She has full control. We like to try and do it first thing in the morning when she's most alert and up for things. Also, supposedly, this sort of intense sensory activity has up to 5 hours of lasting "organizing" input. That's a lot of bang for the activity! Ideally, we would do this activity twice per day (morning and mid-day) but I haven't gotten her to do it that frequently yet. We're working on it!
So, there you have it.
Phew!



Monday, August 22, 2011

Tired

Several days ago Paige went down for a nap after a particularly moody day up to that point. She made up for it, though, by being quite snuggly and huggable just before nap. I tucked her in, gave her a kiss and shut her door with a sigh of relief. I went to my own room feeling so depleted and defeated. I got under the covers; laying on my left side, and pulled those sheets up over my right ear. I just sort of stayed right there in the silence and stared at the window and my mirror on the wall; not thinking. This sort of melancholy washed over me and my mind began to consider how Paige would one day be too big to be interested in cuddling with me or sitting in my lap to read a book. My very favorite things. It's rare she wants to cuddle, but in a few years it will likely be a thing of the past. The thought made my throat close up. A big tear welled up in my right eye and slipped out and down across the bridge of my nose and plopped down onto the pillow. It fell the exact same way my brother's tears did the day my grandmother died. He was nine (almost ten) and I was four (almost five). I was too little to understand the gravity of what was happening. I sat on the floor solemnly studying my brother's face as he lay on his side on the couch. He was clutching the pillow beneath his head and had such a calm face. I had never seen him cry (that I'd noticed to that point in my young life) and I was fascinated by the chubby tears that silently rolled out and down across the bridge of his nose and plopped onto the cushion. Perhaps it was the first time I'd noticed that someone else could have sad feelings too. Someone that seemed so big and strong. It's an emotion that ties us all together for whatever the reason. Anyway, a few of my own tears fell as I recalled that day in July so many years ago. Now, I was certainly hormonal. Certainly melancholy. I took a deep breath in and realized just how worn out I feel from all we have been working through lately. From trying to be strong every second. It was necessary to lay still and give in, just for a little bit. Soon, I fell asleep and woke up with the tiniest bit of extra energy; enough to press on through the rest of the day anyway. Not every day feels like a triumph. It's important to note the days that are hard, cumbersome and tiresome. There's a lot of those lately. But they always remind me to appreciate and treasure the good ones. The sweet ones that lives are built around. I know more and more are on their way.

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Thursday, August 18, 2011

A moment

Dear Little P,

The other day you were having a hard time taking a nap. Eventually, I climbed into your bed and said "Let's snuggle." You came right over and put your little body against me. You fit right into the curve of my body with your head tucked neatly under my chin. I could feel your soft hair brushing against my cheek and I could smell your shampoo from the night before. It was so nice to hold you like that, even just for a little while. Later, you sort of shimmied up the bed while I tried to nap. Your face was now right against mine; I could feel your warm cheek against mine. You kept moving around. But I felt like I was being watched; so I opened my eyes. I saw your round shining liquid blue eyes peering at me from only a few inches away. You had been studying my face as I'd tried to sleep. You looked right into my eyes from sooooo close. I noticed you had such an amused grin at being able to see me from such a vantage point. I closed my eyes again to let you observe some more and felt your warm breath against my nose and cheeks. Being studied so closely made me feel like laughing. I opened my eyes again to see you with the biggest grin ever. Your cheeks were drawn up into perfect little apples and I could see all of your teeth. I laughed out loud and you responded with the sweetest little belly laugh. We went on to laugh and giggle together just looking at each other in the eyes. And you said "Silly Billy!!" So I gave you a kiss on the cheek. You never did nap that day, but instead, we had one of my favorite moments as a mother so far. Thank you for it. I love you always and forever, my little sweetie.
Love,
Mama

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Big Girl Bed!

wow my bed

Hi friends!

A week and a half ago Paige left her babyhood behind and began sleeping in a big-girl bed in her new big girl room. I was given the advice to start her in a big bed sooner than later so she doesn't feel competition with the baby. This made sense to me, so we went ahead and did it.
We excitedly ordered the furniture when she was with us at the store; she seemed to like climbing up onto the bed and looking around from up "high."
We got to work back home and replaced the ugly carpet in the room with oak wood flooring to match her old room. After much deliberation, we decided to paint the room the same color as her old one. I was gonna do a melon/orangey pink color but it just didn't feel right.
Anyhoo, the day the bed was delivered was quite exciting and she took ownership right away. She kept saying "big girl room!" and "my bed!". We'd talked about getting her new room for quite a while so I know she was ready for it. A few days later, when it was time for her to sleep in her bed for the first time, Chris took her crib apart. Before he did, we had Paige go in the room and say "thank you" for being such a good crib and to say "bye bye." She patted the crib and said "bye bye" and "thank you." She also gave it a kiss, which made my throat tighten. We explained that it's a baby's bed and she's not a baby anymore so it had to go to a baby who needed it (of course, we are keeping it and storing it for the next baby).
saying bye bye

After her goodbyes, I took her downstairs and Chris hid the crib in our closet. When she came back up to get ready for bed, she went in the old room and noticed the crib was gone and looked puzzled. I said "remember? crib had to go to baby's house!" and she said "oh" and sort of shrugged and went about her evening like nothing happened. This was a nice trick for her to visually see that the crib was no longer an option for sleeping. We went about our normal routine; just in her new room instead. She was thrilled to sleep in her new room and she slept great! I was terrified she'd keep getting up or would cry, etc. but she just fell asleep like normal. Phew! Another milestone under her belt (and mine). I'll admit, I cried a little bit. But I'm so proud of our girl. She's taking all these changes in stride and that's a huge deal. Hooray!

dancing owl
"Owl is in the tree!!!!"

tree
"Tree!!!!"

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

15 weeks 4 days

no215weeks

Hi friends!
Well, I've been away for a bit, eh? So much has been happening here and it's been so hard to keep up with it all!
deep breath...
Firstly, thank you so much for your kind words on our last post! We are pretty pumped about the wee one on the way. To answer the many questions I've gotten: I'm currently 15 weeks and 4 days as I write this (and feeling good!). Our due date is February 3rd (so I'm pretty much assuming an end of January birth). I'm finally not feeling sick anymore and my tiredness has lifted enough so that I can function. It was baaaaaaad. I was pretty much on the couch full time. Poor Little P had a lot to cope with, since she needs a LOT of structured play to flourish. Those harder times are finally behind us though, so onward and upward!
The whole pregnancy was a pleasant and welcome surprise. It's funny; we had just decided to wait a few more months to try but lo and behold I found out I was pregnant a mere few days later after that discussion. ha! A true blessing after going through everything we did to bring Little P to us. Not a day goes by that I'm not grateful or shocked by the miracle happening. I'll admit, the first few weeks had me terrified. I was worried about how I would handle the sleepless nights with a new baby AND still be alert for Paige. How would I handle Paige's special needs AND care for a newborn? How would it all happen???!!! I felt pretty panicked. But, as time has gone by I've relaxed and realized that everything always falls into place as it needs to. And we can always try to hire a mother's helper or something here and there in those first few months if I need a bit of extra sleep in the morning or something. Time to save up!! Anyway, now I'm feeling much more calm.

In other news, which I'll share more in upcoming posts, is Paige is now sleeping in a big-girl bed in her new big girl room. *tear* It's been going wonderfully and has been much easier than I thought it would be. I'm still working on finishing up the decorating in there; but it's mostly done. I plan to do a post about the bed, and a separate post sharing her new room with you! The baby will go in Paige's old room. We have plans to freshen it up and make it new for the next wee one.

AND (on another note) we've made some great strides in meeting Paige's sensory seeking needs and have created some therapy swings from scratch for our own house. I plan to do a post with photos of the swings and how we made them in case anyone else is interested. I'll also write about what Paige was needing and how the swings satisfy that need...and thus help her focus, learn, improve her speech and her motor skills. It's been fascinating to watch.

We've been busy! But it's a good kind of busy, so I can't complain. It's just a lot going on at once and sometimes I feel like I'm buried and flailing around. But Little P starts her intensive ABA/Floortime therapy today with her new facilitators so I'm going to start having more free time on my hands to get things done around the house and maybe start creating art again. Silver lining!!!

Thank you again for your well-wishes and we are doing well! Thanks for those who have asked or who were concerned. Looks like I will finally have some more time to do some proper posting around here! Yay! Be well!!!

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