Friday, November 21, 2014

After The Birthdays

Since September, I've been trying to plan  a fun birthday trip up to Spokane to play Laser Tag. We wanted to go with friends, but the several different friend-families we invited either declined or canceled. My social curse strikes again. 

All of that meant that the trip kept getting pushed back. First to October, and then again to November. At last, today we did it!














First, we hit Value Village, a thrift store, for clothes and toys. Then on to the Laser Tag arena. Bean and Abi were scared at first, but they soon got into the spirit of the game. I'm proud that I came in fourth out of twenty, since I'm not generally  very good at run-and-shoot games! Lastly, we finished with dinner at the Old Spaghetti Factory. 

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Stillness

Last Friday, a blogger friend invited me to join a Friday writing group. I intended to do it, but Friday was such a crazy day I didn't have time to write all day. This evening while Hubby reads the kids their bedtime story, I find myself unexpectedly here on my laptop (not my phone) and with a few minutes to write.

So a quick few minutes of free writing on the prompt "Still:"

Stillness.

Quietness.

Be still and know.

The thing that comes to mind when I ponder stillness is the fact that to really be still, I must be content. I can't be still when I have no inner peace. If I'm in turmoil, there is no stillness, and I wrap myself in a frenzied haze of busyness in order to anesthetize myself from the discontentment that nags at me.

There is a part of me that craves stillness. I long for the contentment that springs deep from a soul that is satisfied.

But the honest reality is, it's hard to do.

Sure, I count my blessings. I have many! I adore my children and hubby. I have a lovely cottage in which to live, and plenty of food, in fact so much that I can't diet successfully. I have access to information and friends at my fingertips. I get to play music every few weeks at church... the list goes on and on.

Yet, every time life slows to stillness for a few minutes, all I feel is an aching longing. For something. It's different every time.

Maybe it's the depression that I fight daily: that spectre of darkness that threatens my mind when I ought to be feeling happy.

Maybe it's merely a weakness of character in which I flow from one problem to the next, looking for the next challenge to confront, the next puzzle to solve, and I can never stop and rest in the moment.

Whatever the reason, stillness often eludes.

Then, there's the rare moment that it doesn't.

That once-in-a-long-time day when the planets align or when God decides to drop a perfect butterfly of peace into my heart and I stand with arms upraised on the top of my mountain and I'm happy there.

In a way, I appreciate those moments of stillness even more because they are so rare. They can happen in the midst of noisy children, or alone in a hike through silent, snowy woods. The circumstances matter little. If I could recreate them, I surely would. Instead, like unexpected gifts, I must simply appreciate them.

And be thankful.


Monday, November 17, 2014

A Tale of Two Canes

...or three or four!


Abi and I are constantly on a quest for the most useful cane. 

We tried the NFB free cane. It was lightweight and long, and quite nice. But the metal tip kept getting stuck in cracks in the sidewalk, and when Abi was littler, she didn't have the coordination to get it unstuck again quickly or smoothly. 


We bought her a pink one from Ambutech.com and added a Hello Kitty sticker. 


That one had a rolling ball. It didn't get stuck in cracks. 

But the whole cane was quite heavy for a little kid. It's basically an adult cane, only shorter with a smaller grip. 


In an attempt to lighten things up, we used our best MacGyver skillz, and added a whiffle ball at the end of a new longer cane. This combined the big ball end with the lightest weight cane we could find: the NFB freebie again. 


She used this setup for about a year, until she lost the last of her vision in July, actually. She liked it because she could use constant contact technique on any terrain: grass, gravel, whatever.


At the point when her vision changed, she was a little taller, a little stronger, and able to coordinate tapping a metal tip. With no residual vision to use to find the edges of sidewalks, she suddenly preferred the haptic and auditory feedback of the metal tip. 

We got her another longer NFB cane, and covered it with fun rainbow duct tape. The trouble was, it was suddenly too long to fit comfortably next to her in the car. The cork top broke off, and then it had no loop for hanging. Still, she liked the length when walking, because she had a longer reach and could walk faster. 

Although we worked out a system of stowing it along the floor, she still asked if I could find her a folding cane that could be easy to hold in the car. I promised to try. 


This time, I headed back to Ambutech. Although they recommend not using their 8mm ID canes for mobility, I figured that for a little kid, they might be small and lightweight enough to work really well. 



I got her a graphite folding ID cane with pink on it again. This time, I thought we'd give their ceramic tip a try, although I got a metal one too, as backup. 

So now we're test-driving this new little folding cane! So far, she LOVES it. It's as little and light as the NFB ones, and the ceramic tip gives great auditory feedback. I don't know if the folding aspect will be a drawback, as some people say it doesn't give tactile feedback quite as precisely, but time will tell. 



Another Try At Coloring


An option for coloring when you love to color but can't see the paper any more. 

Velvet pictures provide tactile edges and make coloring inside the lines easy. 

Braille labels on markers tell what colors you have so you can create your picture. 


Wednesday, November 12, 2014

A Decade of Curly Miss

She was born TEN years ago! 







And here are ten things I love about her:

1. She is so much like her daddy. 
2. Acts of Service seem to be her primary love language. 
3. She loves animals. 
4. She loves to draw. 
5. She is far more skilled socially than I ever was. 
6. She will try again even if she is frustrated. 
7. Her quick wit and sense of humor. 
8. She loves to cook. 
9. She rarely worries about things. 
10. Her sweet, compassionate heart.

We love you to the moon and back, Sweetie!

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

"Anne"



In addition to sewing costumes, I got to play two small parts. It turned out to be quite a blessing, as I didn't have very many lines to memorize, I didn't have to go to every rehearsal, and it was less pressure than some shows I've done.

In the opening scene, I played Mrs. MacPherson, an extra character whose main purpose was to give Mrs. Rachel Lynde someone with which to gossip!


Then, I played Mrs. Blewitt, the slovenly woman who wants to take Anne home to be a servant girl. It's turned out to be a fun part to play.


The rest of the pictures from the play can be viewed here.

Snapshot: Opinion

This totally cracked me up. Seth expressing his displeasure with the lack of a graph in his geometry question in Khan Academy.




Refreshable Braille Display

This is what it looks like to read braille using a Bluetooth braille display. You can take any Kindle or eBook, or web site or just plain text, and instantly have it in braille. Which means learning to spell, using punctuation and interacting with the words like literate print readers do. (Not passively listening to an audio book, which has its place but is not the same.) Technology is certainly NOT making Braille obsolete!


Family Board Game Night

I've been brainstorming stuff to do in these winter evenings. Tonight, it was "let's light lots of candles and play board games!"





Friday, October 31, 2014

Halloweeny Stuff


Two Ethiopians, a camouflage guy, and Emily Elizabeth (from "Clifford, the Big, Red Dog")


We went to a harvest party at a local church. Carnival games, prizes, cookie decorating, and lots of noise started the festivities. 


In the bouncy castle, a "tree" offered places to hide, and an invitation to try and push it over. 


A maze enticed kids to wander through. Bean and Abi especially loved the maze, and went through over and over. 



Once home again, we lit candles, including the candles we made at the homeschool Pioneer Day. 


Abi loved handing out candy to the Trick or Treaters. For a while, she was so enthusiastic, she shouted "Trick or Treat" out the door. Finally, we decided that she could say "Happy Halloween!"


Snapshots: Jack O'Lanterns