Thursday, October 18, 2012

Naomi's Trip to the Farm

Naomi took a trip to Vale Wood Farms in Loretto, Pa, with her preschool class recently.  Vale Wood is a dairy farm.  Dairy farming is big in Central Pennsylvania where we live.  Lots of holsteins around here.  Parents were invited to go along, so Naomi and I drove up together and met her aide, Deb, there.  It was a big help having Deb with me.  It is always a big help having an extra set of hands when I take Naomi somewhere new because I never know how she is going to react and what level of support she is going to need.   She'd never been to a farm before.  The day started out not so good.  The route to Vale Wood Farms starts out the same as the route to Papa's house.  Naomi loves going to Papa's house so if we start driving that way and then make a turn to go somewhere else, Naomi gets mad, to say the least.  Furious, indignant, enraged and livid may be better words. Well, as soon as we got on the highway and Naomi realized we were not going to Papa's house she let me know how displeased she was by starting in with her ear piercing screaming, which lasted the entire 21 miles from that point to our destination.  I had already told her we weren't going to Papa's when we left the house, but she did not care, nor did she care to listen to my explanation of where we were going and why.  Nor did she care, at all, when I told her that she was hurting my ears and that I did not like the way she was acting.  She wasn't calmed by her music or anything else.  21 miles of ear piericing screaming later, Mommy was frazzled.  Frazzled, again, may be an understatement.   We parked and I put a show on the car player (yes, in retrospect I should have done that before we left, or gotten off on an exit to do it while we drove), and we both calmed ourselves down, Naomi while watching a show and Mommy while standing outside the car and powering down a package of Starbursts.  Deb and the rest of her class then showed up shortly later so we got her out of the car and in to her wheelchair.  At this point she was excited and delightful, using her voice to express her happiness, as well as smiling and kicking her legs, which is another way she expresses happiness.  First up was the tractor hayride for the farm tour.  I had high hopes for the this activity because Naomi loves her tractor book.  She was happy and excited at first.  Unfortunately, we were sitting next to the tour guide who had a loud speaker to explain what we were seeing.  Naomi does not like loud noises, especially loud voices, and apparently especially not loud, artificially magnified voices.  She cried and even did some more of her ear peircing screaming.  Deb did a really good job trying to calm her and we did ask the tractor to stop so we could move away from the loud speaker, but it was too late.  She was already scared and upset.  She did not have fun on the hayride.  At this point I was feeling pretty discouraged and thinking we should have just stayed home.  Our primary objective for Naomi is for her to have fun and enjoy her life and there had been no joy so far for over an hour.  Finally, the hayride ended and, Mommy demoralized, we moved on to the next activity, which was a little tour through a pumpkin patch that had different farm animals and little cutouts of things like barns and dairy trucks that the  children could pose behind for pictures.  This was where the day got fun.  Naomi loved it!  Lots of quaking (another happy sign) squealing with delight, smiling, laughing, kicking.  Just generally being really cute and happy.  My spirits were soaring and we were having a great time.  Unfortunatley, this was the point where I realized I had left the camera in the car in the midst of my frazzledom so I don't have any pictures.  Miss Stephanie, her preschool teacher, did get pictures though.  Naomi posed behind the farm cut out and as the driver behind the milk truck cut out.  So cute!  She loved all of the pumpkins and she especially loved the baby pigs.  I was pleased she loved the pigs so much because the pig page is her favorite page in her farm book.  It was very satsifying to know she recognized the pigs as pigs, just like in her book.  After the pumpkin patch tour we took Naomi through the little carnival games section.  She was very cooperative with me using hand over hand assitance for her to play the games.  This was kind of a big deal since Naomi generally hates touching new things.  I think she had so much fun in the pumpkin patch that she was more willing to tolerate doing things outside of her comfort zone.  The last activity before lunch was the corn bin.  I was a little leary of the corn bin. Naomi had a small corn bin when she was younger as part of her Occupational Therapy program in EI.    Her EI corn bin was a rubbermaid containter with propbably 10 pounds of popping corn in it.  She had to sit in the corn bin, touch the corn with her hands, feel it against her feet and body, hear the sound it made as she moved her body.  The purpose of these kinds of activities is to get a child like Naomi used to touching different textures, hearing different sounds and being more willing to engage with novel stimuli.  Naomi HATED the corn.  There was crying, screaming, resisting.  It never went well.  Her OT, Sue Ellen, was so patient and Naomi did eventually tolerate it a little more but she never liked it.  I would guess that they day the corn bin left was one of the best days of Naomi's life.  Vale Wood has a HUGE corn bin, the size of a small room, filled with feed corn that the dairy cows eat.  I thought, this will probably go poorly, but let's try it anyway.  If she gets upset again we'll just get her out.  Naomi did not get upset.  Naomi LOVED the corn bin.  I mean, just absolutely loved it.  It was so thrilling for me after doing corn bin therapy with her every day for over a year in EI.  She was digging her hands into the corn, picking it up, throwing it, kicking her legs in, she layed down in the corn, did more kicking, rolled over on to her side and the whole time she is just laughing and squealing with delight, huge smile on her face.  She was in there for almost an hour and the only reason we got her out was because it was time for lunch.  She couldn't get enough of it.  We had lunch and then went home.  After a rough start, it turned to to be a great day.  However, the day did just get better after that.  We had a little visit from Naomi's EI physical thepist, Marla, which was so nice.  Marla worked with Naomi from the time she was 4 months old until she turned three.  She was a big part of our lives and it was wonderful seeing her again.  I can't even begin to tell you how special your child's EI therapists come to be to as a special needs family and what a big part of your lives they are.  I'm going to need to write a post about it.  Then Naomi and I spent some time with Uncle Joel who was at our house doing some work to help us get ready for a certain immenent arrival.  I told him all about the corn bin and he was very intrigued.  He got out our popping corn and put it on a tray for Naomi to see if she really did like it.  Well, she went wild over the corn again, just having so much fun.  At that point, Uncle Joel decided Naomi needed her own corn bin.  He could barely contain himself until his work day was over so he could go home and make it.  He left our house around 4:30 pm and was back by 7:30 pm with a newly built 4' x 4' wooden bin and 100 pounds of feed corn.  He assembled it, we put Naomi in it and it was a huge hit, just like the corn bin at the farm.  She was thrilled, we were thrilled and Uncle Joel was thrilled.  However, he did decided that 100 pounds of corn was not enough so he was back the next morning with another 100 pounds of corn.  Now the corn bin is truly awesome.  Naomi spends time in there every day.  It is such a great thing for us to have in the house, especially with winter coming.  Now that swimming season is over and it gets dark out earlier and earlier there isn't much to do to keep Naomi happy, entertained and active.  And, it reminds us every day of the progress Naomi has made.  No, she's not talking or walking or feeding herself or doing any of those things, but she used to hate playing in corn and now she likes it and that is pretty darned thrilling for Mommy and Daddy.  Below are some pictures of Naomi and her corn bin.

Digging her hands in the corn.

Oh, look,  Naomi STILL wont' smile for the camera.

Using her voice to express her delight.

Stretching out in the corn getting ready to do kicks and spew the corn all over the room.


  1. Can't wait to see it! Good old Uncle Joel!

  2. Just wait Auntie Anne till all the kids are in it and.......