Tuesday, July 5, 2011


One of the reasons that I'm not writing as much of late is that I've been wondering about where to take this blog (if anywhere). I want to say more about what I'm doing, especially with respect to science, but that does take away any hope of staying (relatively) anonymous.

For a number of complicated reasons, I was uncomfortable revealing more about my identity, but some of those reasons are gradually going away. This is good news!!! At the same time, I have blogged about some fairly intimate stuff in the past..... I would to hate to feel limited by what I can write, by worrying about who might read it.

At any rate, it looks like, I may do some cleaning up of old posts, and lift the veil slightly. More and more over time, maybe. And blog more. Since that's what it's always been about. The saga of my house is a start.

Makita's Soap opera: House Renovation Projects. Pilot episode

If you read my biographical blurb, you might have thought I was exagerating the carpenter and electrician parts of it. In a few posts, I'm about to provide some more detail. It all started about 5 years ago when we purchased the house.

The house was in decent livable shape when we bought. We liked the neighborhood, the backyard. Not so much the kitchen, and the fans weren't exactly to our taste either, but all that seemed minor. We got a few hundred dollars credit for the old range, and we moved in.

Before you knew I was changing fans. In almost every room. And adding track lights, because we wanted more lights. The previous owners had converted a 2-car garage into a large party room, with a large animal painted on the wall, the mascot of the local football team. We love parties and all, but were unlikely to use the room for that purpose. We sort of divided it up in two part using furniture. A couch, some bookcases, a child safety gate. That didn't work out so well, the kids were crawling over the couch, the bookcases were great fun to stand on, and the gate was a total joke. It also looked very messy, disorganized. Something had to be done.

Then a year later, my husband came up with the idea to put up a wall, and make a proper room at one end, the kids could continue to use the other half as play area. He then came up with the brilliant idea to make it into a bedroom for the oldest who was 11 at the time.

What to do? Hire a contractor? We couldn't afford that. Do it ourselves? I dunno, seemed like a really big job. A friend then volunteered help from her mother and father-in-law. Really, really nice of her. And her mother and father-in-law. I also went on the internet and googled: "how to build an interior wall".

So, one day, I stepped into the room, cleared the space in the center, drew a line down the middle on the carpet with a permanent marker, took out my trusty utility knife, and cut! This is the point of no return!

Proloquo2Go update

I probably sound like a broken record, but I can hardly believe it's been so long since I've posted an update on our use of the communication software for iPod and iPad Proloquo2Go. I posted a response a while ago on this blogpost by Sam Flatow.

I wanted to elaborate here. Instead of responding to his (not entirely invalid) criticism on spending a arguably very large sum of money on iPads for kids, I wanted to tell more about how this has changed our live. And has it ever.

First off, we knew that the iPad was going to treated less than gently, so we invested in an Otterbox. It adds considerable bulk and some weight to the iPad, but it creates a rubber bumper around it and most importantly it's screen, and the iPad has survived all the very real challenges it faced, as listed in my comment on Sam Flatow's piece. I probably even forget some of the horrible abuse this intricate technological device has suffered over the months. In my response I forgot to add that I also got a film to cover the screen to protect it, it does not interfere with the otterbox, and so far, not a scratch.

But aside from it's surprising physical sturdiness, it has opened up a world of communication for my son he can take wherever he goes, and it's been an inspiration, and a source of hope. No exaggerations.

I wasn't kidding when I stated in my response that F2 had figured out how to work the iPad in 5 minutes. Granted, he's always been fairly visually driven, and his speech therapists have been working very hard with him to communicate with pictures for years. But still. He looked at it. Turned it around a few times, tried to take a bite off the edge, curiously touched one of the pictures on the screen, and off he went. Because we figure there always needed to be a functional iPad around, we got 2, and named them "Mork" and "Mindy."

About 3 weeks later we had gone to lunch with him, and he'd been playing around with Mork and Mindy without us knowing exactly what he was doing. When lunch arrived I tried to take it away, so he could eat, and suddenly Mork says "Why did you do that? I want Blue's Clues please." It was jarring to say the least. Needless to say I immediately gave Mork back, and retreated to my side of the boot.

When F1-3 was ill a while ago, and throwing up, he came over several times to say "Brush my teeth." He asks for "drink, flavored water," "Blue's Clues," "Face," (a character on Nickolodeon, "use the computer," "something to eat, breakfast, cereal." I mean, it's awesome. He's communicated 10 times more in the past 6 months, than he has his entire life before that. I can go on and on, but we learn new things every day, and we're not even trying very hard. For us, the iPad's been a lifesaver. It has greatly enhanced the quality of his life. It's fun, it encourages learning, and it's very intuitive. And even though he may be a special case, because of his communication issues, but I think the reason it works for him, applies to most kids.

Edit: Not quite the same arguments as mine, but there is at least one other person who thinks iPads are great for kids.