My Passion for Sign Language

For almost five years now, I’ve been learning ASL (American Sign Language). It all started as a hobby. I decided the summer after my junior year of high school to start learning for fun while school was out. I had no real expectations, and no plans to continue. At the end of the summer though, my family attended a breast cancer benefit dinner. The woman we were there to support and her husband were both deaf. I’m looking around while we are eating, and I realize that not a single person had approached the couple. Their faces said it all. The woman looked so depressed, the man looked like he was so lonely and angry… We were there for them, and yet they were forced to feel alone!

I was still a kid at the time, and a rather shy one at that. I barely knew any sign, really just enough to introduce myself and finger spell. I took a deep breath and awkwardly meandered my way over to them. I signed, “Hello, my name is Sami. I don’t sign good. Sorry.” That was all it took. The man burst into tears and signed, “Thank you, thank you, thank you.” He gave me a huge hug. His wife began to cry and gave me the first smile I had seen from her all night. I finger spelled, “Good luck,” to her. My aunt came over and the man signed to her, “Thank you,” pointed at me, “good girl!” It was the most amazing experience. We signed to each other for a while more, I explained who my family was, and then went and sat back down. That night inspired me to want to become fluent in ASL. Seeing the emotion, the reaction, the thankfulness to just have SOMEONE communicate with them, to help erase even a little bit of loneliness.. was amazing.

Since then my life has gone in a dozen different directions, but this passion has continued.

While we were in Virginia, Corey worked at Kroger. On one of his day offs we went in to do some grocery shopping of our own. Fate took over apparently. Two cute little kids ran up to me out of no where. One asked me to pick him up and the other guided us back to their parents. As we got closer, I saw that they were signing! They were having trouble and the customer service person that was trying to help them, was really no help at all. They did not read or write, and his solution was to try to write with them. I went over and signed with them. I learned their life story just about, but also that they needed help with their coupons. I was hired there a week later. It was great being able to communicate though! Being able to help them with something so simple, because I had taken the initiative to learn their language.

As I get older, the need to DO something with this has been poking at me more and more.

When I joined PLTI, which I talked a ton about almost a year ago, I decided I wanted to focus on how I could help my local Deaf Community. Sadly, my project never came to fruition. That desire never left me though. Now, that goal is almost finished. One of the classes I have to take for the program I’m in was really pointless for me. I am the only person in the class, and it’s a class more for people who haven’t been in school for a long time and lack “good student skills” for college. So, instead of the usual curriculum, my awesome teacher challenged me to finish the project I started in PLTI and push it as far as I could go. I am so thankful for that nudge!

I have worked ferociously for the last two months getting better at signing. In January the real fun starts. I will be teaching a free, very basic ASL class to prepare people for… a Deaf and Hearing Weekly Social! I am so excited! Every week the deaf and hearing will get together in a safe communication rich environment. There will be board and card games, snacks, great talks, and it will really just be a way of bringing us all together.

That’s not all folks!

So that all sounds great right? But, there’s more. Along with working with the adult community, I really want to work with children and bring them sign. I will be going to the local elementary schools for a Signing/Singing/Story Time! I’ll be going in, teaching the kids animal and color signs, reading Brown Bear, Brown Bear with signs, and singing a few great signs involving color signs and the alphabet. I really feel like EVERYONE should know at least a little bit of sign and how to finger spell. This is just one more way I can make that happen.

So last but not least, a little more personal, why I am in school…

I’m working on getting my two year education degree… because I want to work one-on-one in public schools with deaf students. The only thing schools are required to do, is provide an interpreter. What’s wrong with that? The interpreter is not there to explain the concepts, but just to sign what the teacher is saying. I want to fill that gap. I want to stop these students from falling through the cracks. I’m going to two year route just to get hired into the school system as a tech. ed. where I will then be able to work with the students I can help the most. As a long term career, I am so happy and excited. It’s going to take me quite some time, and I feel like I’ve barely begun, but I know I’ll make it.

Woohoo, you made it all the way to the end! Thank you for reading about my passion project. Now, if you are interested in learning to sign, please check out Bill Vicar (lifeprint) on YouTube. He’s a Deaf ASL teacher in Sacramento who teaches for free on YouTube. That’s an awesome place to start. The internet is an amazing resource. Once you’ve mastered finger spelling and some basic signs, search for the Deaf Community local to you. You really can make a difference!

I’m Not Perfect

Something very interesting has been happening since going back to school. Corey and I have somehow become a role model to even younger parents! During our family read meetings (we meet with a teacher in a little office off of a pretty public hallway/cafeteria area) we have had at least one person come in each week and say something along the lines of, “I always hear you guys. You’re like the perfect parents!” We have people who tell us how “awesome” we are, and how they hope they can parent like us. IT IS SO WEIRD. I mean, what do we say to that? “Oh no, we screw up all the time.” “You should see my house, it’s trashed!” I WANT to be a good role model. I don’t want to look like a failure, or like we’re doing it all wrong. I don’t think we are. I also know that we are learning, we mess up, and we have a lot more to learn the older Caleb gets.

I think the key though… is knowing we aren’t perfect. I can admit when we make a mistake. I try so hard to not yell at Caleb, and usually don’t, but once or twice a month he’ll do something dangerous and boom, it’s like I explode. “CALEB GET OFF THAT FREAKING THING!” “NO DON’T OPEN THAT!” “STOPPPP!” Then there is this look on his face like I’ve smacked him across the face, and I feel absolutely awful. I NEVER want to hurt my son. I want him to feel loved and safe at all times. I’m the adult, I should be able to control myself, and yet I make this terrible mistake. Immediately I apologize to him. I tell him I should not have screamed, that I was scared, and I will do better for him. I give him a hug if he wants one, or I leave him alone until he’s ready to forgive me.

Some days I do absolutely nothing with him. Hare to believe right? Some days I just let him play alone. He can come snuggle with me, I make sure to feed him and change his diaper, but I don’t play with him. It’s rare, but those days always make me feel like a failure. I just have no inhibition on those days, I don’t want to get up, I don’t want to play pretend. This only happens every other month about, but I know it’s a problem. I also know that it’s probably not going to change because once in a while I need to take a break, and that is okay.

You guys know how much I love breastfeeding. You know I believe in self weaning and full term nursing… OH MY GOSH I hate night nursing. I’ve forced Caleb to night wean. I just can’t do it. It makes me ANGRY. My blood boils and I start resenting him nursing at all. For both of us, I put an end to it. I feel bad. He wasn’t ready, but I put myself before him. I know deep down it was best for both of us, but I still feel a twinge of guilt each night when he asks to nurse.

These are just a few of the things I am doing wrong. I know I need to change some things, I know that I am doing wrong, and that’s what makes me a good parent. My desire to be the best for my kiddo, the ability to see my faults and not justify them, and my constant hunt for knowledge is what makes me come out on the other side giving people the impression of perfection. I’m so grateful for the people I have before me, all my “homies.” If you can take anything from this, just remember to keep moving forward. You don’t have to be like your parents. You don’t have to be like yourself a week ago. Every day you can become better!

Technology Has Failed Me!

First off, thank you all for sticking with me. I’m always amazed that I continue to get views each day and don’t lose more than a few followers every hiatus I take. Thank you for that. I don’t think I can express how much it really means to me.

So, alone with my phone being drowned in tea, my tablet has also come upon some hard times. The camera is just barely functioning once in a great while. Worse though? The keyboard is totally out of commission. I can write without a photo, but typing without a keyboard is a little more problematic. I have a back up now though, so there will surely be posts coming your way; however, I think it’s time for a little change.

I had planned to post about our academic endeavors with Caleb. I’ll still be posting about that, but I think it’s time to get a little more real. My life, my feeling, my family. I started this blog to help people parent peacefully, but also because it was a way for me to connect with people outside of my circle. From now on I will take special care to write more from the heart than just the brain. I hope you’re all okay with that.

I love you dearly. You are loved.


Daddy-Son Time <3


One of the benefits of Corey working at Lowe’s is that he gets to bring home the Build and Grow projects to do with Caleb. Soon as he walks in with one of those sets, Caleb just lights right up. I’m actually really impressed with Corey too. He could build the whole thing by himself in a few minutes, or be too worried he’d get hurt to let Caleb help. Instead, Corey involves Caleb in the whole thing.

First Caleb reads him the instructions. Then Corey kind of follows them, but usually has to pull a few parts apart as he goes. Then he has Caleb help him put in each nail before he hammers it in. Caleb has the option of using stickers, or not. He can put them on and rip them off later. It’s totally Caleb led. In general it’s just a blast watching them, and I know he’s learning just so many things! Putting the little nails in the holes? Totally fantastic fine motor skill practice. Following instructions? Puzzling pieces together? Great brain activities.

It’s also education for Corey. Patience, letting go, trust… It’s really beautiful watching them together.

Puzzles Gallore: Day Five of Pre-school Home-schooling


Today went better than every other day this week. The big problem I was having is that I hadn’t prepped the “class” before we started. I would set him up with a coloring sheet, and I’d sit besides him cutting and gluing. Of course what mama was doing was SO much more interesting. Frustration would ensue, and it would take a thousand times longer to get everything done, and Caleb would have a harder time getting interested.

The big difference today, is I made sure before we even tried to start that everything was ready to go, and we didn’t start at his desk. We sang Old McDonald, and I signed it for him. We went over what a cow was a few more times, and how they live on farms. Then we moved onto the Nursery Rhyme of the week. I made up a little fold book with the characters to “Hey Diddle Diddle.” As I recited the rhyme I pointed out the Cat, Fiddle, Cow, Moon, Dog, Smile/Laugh, Dish, and Spoon. Caleb loved that he had a book to identify the things from.

Once we had danced and sung, and he was calm, we moved over to the desk and I pulled out a cow puzzle I made for him. First he had a completed one where he matched the cut out spots to. Then he had a blank cow shape to “add the spots to.” I got the idea for it from a bus version our Families Read instructor made for him. This was a fantastic Fine Motor activity. Placing the pieces, matching sizes… Another thing, which you’ll probably notice is, rather than a normal or round cow, it’s square/rectangle based. I decided on that because of our focus on squares for the week.

Speaking of buses and our Families Read instructor… We also worked on this awesome name puzzle today. Caleb loves buses, and he’s a big fan of his own name. He liked mixing up the letters and putting them back together. He loves telling us that, “C is for Caleb!” I started by asking him what it said. Imagine my surprise when he said, “Caleb.” This is an awesome example of sight words. Then I pointed to each letter, said the name, and told him to please say it. It was kind of interested. For “A” he said Ah. For “B” he said AB. We repeated the activity a few times, but he kept saying them that way. C, L, and E he had no problem with. Then I mixed them up and just put C and B where they belonged. He took the reigns and put them back in order, though a ended up upside-down. All around it was a good activity for him though.


Autumnal Paper Chain: Home-school Pre-school Day Four


Caleb had a very productive day of learning. We were supposed to focus on the letter A and number 1, but he knows those pretty well. We did a coloring page of the letter A, and talked about “one crayon at a time,” but then we moved on to something way more fun, because I kept looking out the window and seeing the beautiful colors of Maine in fall.

I took him outside to go learn about, and pick, leaves. We talked about how they start on trees, and then fall to the ground as it gets cold. Then I showed him all the colors they come in. I asked him to pick a bunch for our craft. I wanted to grab some of the incredibly beautiful and bright leaves… but I’m short. So we ended up with some cool gradient leaves instead. Orange and yellow, green and yellow, and red and yellow are what we ended up with.

Before we went I cut up a sheet of green, yellow, red, and orange construction paper, then when we got home I showed him the papers and how they matched the leaves we collected. Next it was time to talk about patterns and practice our color recognition while building a cool autumn leaves paper chain. I had him hand me ONE green, one yellow, one orange, one red, etc, etc, until all the papers were gone. He would hand them to me sometimes, and other times he would slide it through the last chain. We clothes pinned it up, and Caleb chose which chains would have leaves hanging from them. So much fun!

Even though this wasn’t originally on the curriculum, figuring it’s cow week not seasons week, I decided I couldn’t pass the chance up. We still got to talk about green (the color of the week), read a few books, and the fine and gross motor skills used to identify and say colors, as well as threading the paper through the previous chain, was a great practice, and covered what was planned. Oh, and while we were reading I pointed to a piece of broccoli. I asked Caleb what it was, because he loves broccoli and can say the word, but instead of identifying it he said, “Green.” I was really pleased. It was a fun day of learning for the both of us, and really nice to bring nature into our learning.

Day One, Two, and Three of Home-school Pre-school


I’m so sorry for the lack of active pictures. It’s really hard to do school and get pictures without someone to work the camera. I’m also really sorry I didn’t post day one or two. I hope you’ll enjoy reading about this anyhow!

Monday was really simple, but a total blast. We started by introducing the learning board, and more specifically introducing the theme of the week. This week we are focusing on cows, the word calf, the color green, shape square, letter A, number 1, and nursery rhyme “Hey Diddle Diddle.”

I woke him up with this poem:

Little Calf by Katrina Lybbert

“Good morning, little calf,” gentle mother cow said.

“It’s time to get up from your sweet hay filled bed.”

Little calf jumped, stamped his feet, swished his tail,

And followed mama past a shiny milk pail.

Out into the barnyard, holding his head high,

Little calf look up to the blue, blue sky,

Birds flying past chirped a joyful song,

Little calf smiled, and felt happy all day long.

Then we watched a few YouTube videos about cows, and then we started talking about calves. We’re still breastfeeding occasionally, so I explained to Caleb that calves drink their mom’s milk the same way he drinks mine. As the day went on we sang “Old McDonald” over and over, but just talked about him having a cow. I had him get on all fours with me, and we moo’ed like a cow. It was a lot of singing and moving for the first day.

Tuesday was a little harder for us. Caleb wasn’t a huge fan of sitting. That’s okay with me though. The focus of the day was on green and squares. Because Caleb didn’t want to sit still, we decided to just walk around the house pointing out all the square and green things we could find. I figured we could just do the other activities on Wednesday…

Wednesday, today, was wonderful. We woke up with the Old McDonald song, and an awesome green outfit which to my surprise he could identify. After we got out of school we went to the library. I found a ton of great books today. The best was, “The Great Big Green” by Peggy Clifford. Everything is green until the end, and it ends up being the Earth. We also went through books about farms (to talk about cows), a letter book which we focuses on the A with, and a number book where we counted up to three, because Caleb can count to three and wouldn’t stop at one. When we got home I sat him down with a few worksheets I printed off. One had a tree dropping leaves with dotted lines showing the fall pattern. I showed him how to draw lines based on the dotted lines. He said, no. Instead he drew lines from the bottom of the paper to the top. Totally acceptable to me. A line is a line. Then we colored a square green. It’s part of a set of shape cards we’ll be working on through the weeks. He helped me glue the name (square) to the back of the card, and we moved on. I cut out the template for a cow cube, and he glued… some of the spots that we were instructed to. It came out really cute though. We talked about how there was only ONE cow cube, how a cube is made of squares, and that it was, obviously, a cow. Totally the perfect project for this week!


Colors and Counting: Pompom Edition!

Counting Color Pompoms

The Dollar Tree is this magical place where home-schoolers and parents go to buy ridiculous quantities of craft supplies, and educational aids. On one memorable trip I walked by bags of 80 pompoms. I may or may not have grabbed five bags… 400 pompoms seems reasonable right? Right?

Now the only question was what to do with these pompoms? Thus the colors, counting, and pompoms game was created! Super simple prep. I took six Styrofoam plates, drew bubble numbers with corresponding circles (aka 2 circles on the plate with the 2, 3 circles on the plate with the 3, etc…), and colored the circles on each plate with a color of pompom. I laid a platter with the pompoms in the middle of the living-room, surrounded by the plates, and Caleb jumped right in. Watching him use his fine motor skills to place the correct color of each pompom on its proper circle was so much fun. We named each color as he put it down, and talked about adding easy numbers.

I totally recommend this activity any time. You could put Velcro on the plates and pompoms so they don’t move around so much.Do as many plates as you want, multiple colors, and any size pompoms. There are so many great options and it’s a very low cost activity with lots of “educational areas” being covered. Enjoy!

Craft Time: Cow Tube Kites

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This week, for our home-school preschool curriculum, our theme is cow. I don’t have specific things written up for weekend activities, but figured we could do a random craft involving cows anyway. I put on a few cow videos to introduce Caleb to cows, and I prepped this while he watched. Super easy project:

White Paper Cut to Fit Around a Toilet Paper Roll

Black Paper for the Legs (cut into strips and accordion folded)

Black Paper Cut for the Spots (or washi tape!)

Marker for the Face

Glue Sticks

To start, I had Caleb put the glue on the white paper, and I wrapped it around the toilet paper tubes. Then I ran out of glue! I ran around trying to find more, but instead found some black washi tape. I drew a quick cow face on each of these, and then cut a bunch of washi tape squares. I helped Caleb glue his tail on, then we each went to town putting on the spots. I showed him how to fold the legs, we cut them out, and we both taped the legs on together. I have seen these with some other animals, and I figured it would be cute with a cow as well.

Right now they are handing on our “project line.” Later we will tie a little yarn to the top, and bring them outside to blow in the wind! This is a very easy project, but it has a lot of steps. By the time we got half way through the spots, Caleb was pretty done. We got up and danced to Old McDonald for a few minutes, and he was ready to go back to the craft. It’s okay to take breaks!

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Preschool Love

First Day of Preschool

When I chose to go back to school I had to find child care for Caleb. It worked out perfectly. His preschool is only a five minute walk from my school, has amazing credentials, and is incredibly affordable. We spent a few days before deciding to send him there checking out the school, letting him play at the playground, meeting teachers, and having him sit in on half days. He loved it, we felt comfortable, so we signed him up to start on the first day.

That picture makes me laugh every time I see it. We had just walked up to the school, I wanted a few first day of school pictures, but Caleb had a different idea. He marched right up those steps saying, “Bye, I go in.” He turned around just long enough for me to get this snapshot. We made our way inside and he went right to playing. We said bye, since I had to go to school myself, and he didn’t even look up. My attachment parenting raised love bug had no problems with us leaving him at school.

Now we are five weeks in, and nothing has changed. He loves going to school, is having so much fun, and his teachers are very impressed with how much he knows compared to his peers. Each night before a school day I ask him if he wants to go to school, and just gets so excited! I thought that we’d all have a much harder time with this adjustment, but it turns out we all had the tools to do it.