The Amazing Owen
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Owen's New Room

Well, it's finally done, Owen's new room is finished!  But it's not just any room makeover - it's a makeover with a functional purpose(which is a good thing, because I have little to no home decorating skills!)

For the last few years we have worked hard to make as much as possible accessible to Owen through crawling, since that was what he was capable of.  We wanted to make it possible for him to explore his world and to be able to make choices about what he played with next.  We didn't want to frustrate him by having everything he desired out of his reach. We did an excellent job with this idea I must say - too good of a job really.  You see we humans need a bit of adversity to move us along.  When we get too comfortable we stop making progress and our world stagnates.  It was time to take Owen a bit out of his comfort zone to start making a bit more progress toward walking.  In this spirit I revamped Owen's room so that everything he would like to play with required him to stand up, but also gave him the tools to do so given his balance issues.  So, without further ado, here is Owen's new room:

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I have installed hand rails along the walls to allow him to pull up and to help stabilize him so that he can walk from one toy to another without crawling. I took his favorite toys and mounted them on the walls so that he can play with them while standing up.  I also got a shiny new acrylic mirror for him to look at, because he likes mirrors.  I removed most of his other toys from the room so that he wouldn't be tempted to just sit and play with those.  I bought one of those standard activity tables - the type that is meant to be used for a train set - and extended the legs so that he has to stand up to play with anything on it.  The table is placed just far enough away from the hand rails that he has room to move along the rails, but can also transition from the rails to the table without sitting down:

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You can almost see on this wall:

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that the fabric border above and below the toys, which turned out to be a nightmare to get even remotely straight because I had to cut out those rows of squares from a large quilt pattern and then piece them back together on the wall, is also functional.  The squares have different raised surfaces, including some furry ones, to invite him in tactilely.  The blue background is a fleece material that I put up ages ago for Sammy.  I used to have sea animals that I had sewn for her velcroed to the wall, now Owen loves to run his hands over the fleece.

Here is an overview of the other wall, with a toy that can be reversed on the left, the cool new mirror, a set of jingle bells that Sammy made, and one of his favorite toys that his friend Mya gave him a long time ago but that he still plays with constantly.  The painting of the elephants (which is actually a little coat rack, but it's hard to see the pegs) was a present from Grandma Q.

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This project has been weeks in the making.  Here is a shot of Sammy doing some of the artwork on the table:

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I bought the table unfinished so that I could attach the leg extensions.  I didn't like the idea of a regular table with long legs, I was afraid it would tip if he tried to pull up to stand - this design is very sturdy.  I also bought it undecorated so that Sammy and I could have the fun of decorating it for Owen.  Here is a sampling of our artwork on the table:

Sammy's big lady bug, with embellishments, in the middle of the table surface:

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The bugs around the outside of the table:

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And here is my helper posing with her handiwork:

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She not only helped me with the art, but held things on the wall while I put in the screws and answered the question, "Does that look centered to you?" a whole lot :-) Oh, and Grandpa Q gets some credit in these pictures too, as the dresser that you see in the first one is the dresser that he built for me when I was a kid.  Sammy used it for years and now it is Owen's.  And finally Daddy gets cred for lifting and moving the heavy things for this project!

Finally we removed Owen's old bed.  In May of 2009 Sammy and I made and decorated a bed for Owen:

We made it with walls that were just high enough to keep him in while he slept, but low enough that if he climbed out he wouldn't hurt himself (this picture was taken before the kids switched rooms, so the alcove in this room is on the opposite side as his current room).  This arrangement worked really well for quite a while, until he finally learned how to climb out earlier this year.  Shortly after he learned to climb out of his bed, he learned to climb on to the queen sized futon that we kept in the room because Mommy and/or Daddy have to sleep in his room so often.  Once he had a taste for the wide expanses of the futon, there was no going back to the confines of that tiny twin sized bed!  So, rather than fighting to keep him in the old bed, we just took it apart and moved the futon into the alcove.  The queen sized futon completely fills the alcove, which makes for a nice cozy nest.  And as you can see, we did keep a bit of the old bed in the new room:

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The picture above is a piece of Sammy's artwork from the old bed that is now on the side of the alcove above the new bed.  You can also see a painting of some cute giraffes in the background, which are also a gift from Grandma Q - we all like to paint!  Actually, here is a better picture of the giraffes:

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So the next question is, has it helped?  Does he even like it?  Well, here is Owen 30 seconds after I finished mounting the first toy to the wall:

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I wish that there had been a way to get the whole thing done while he was sleeping elsewhere so that I could spring it on him all at once, but alas that was impractical and so he got to play with each bit as I put it up.  Here are a few more views of him enjoying his new playground:

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We have already seen huge progress in his motivation to be fully upright.  We keep finding him standing up in all kinds of places.  I wish that I had had the camera at the ready more often in the past weeks to catch him at the dining room table, the end tables, the bathroom sink, the writing desk in the living room, and more.  Here is what I did manage to catch though:  Here's Owen checking out what Mommy is making for dinner:

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And trying to climb the stairs the hard way:

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So yes, it has helped already.  And he seems to love it.  In fact even as I type, at 9:12 pm when he should be sleeping he is in fact standing up and playing with his toys in the dark. 

The table has been in for one week now, and the railings for just over two weeks.  This little video shows just how much progress he has made in his cruising in this short amount of time:


He has really taken to the idea with no problem at all.  I'm not going to mention the "s" word in this post, but lets just say that their recent absence has also been extremely helpful in this endeavour. 

So it might not make Martha Stewart happy, and my husband may be right in believing that it somewhat resembles a ballerina studio, but I think that on the whole it will be incredibly useful.  And what's more, Owen likes it.  So happy birthday a few weeks early little man, enjoy!

Oh, and since I haven't brought out many pictures of Jigsaw to make you go Awwwww lately, I'll close with these:

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