Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Spring Pianos


I didn't get a pic of Abi at all. But she played three small pieces and did fine. Seth too. 


Afterward, JAMMS! :)

Seth is rejoicing because he gets the summer off now. In contrast, Abi is ready to dive into learning guitar. 

Bottle Bunnies

Our doe rabbits were supposed to have their babies in the doe box. We bred them in a rotation and marked the calendar. 

It turns out one of the does was actually a buck. The result was a nest in the big cage on May 9, and six of the eight babies died. 

In an effort to save the last two, I brought them in and tried again to bottle feed. 

May 10. Day 2. I called them Nibble and Squeak. 


May 11. Day 3.


May 12. Day 4.


May 13. Day 5. 


I fed them Kitten Milk Replacer mixed with half n half or heavy whipping cream, and warmed. A medicine dropper and goat nipple with only a pin hole in the tip made a good bottle. 


May 14. Day 6. 


It was at this point we lost Nibble. She got chilled in the car when she wasn't on their heating pad for a while and she didn't make it. 

May 15. Day 7. 


May 16. Day 8. 


May 17. Day 9. 


May 18. Day 10. 


At this point Squeak was getting much more mobile and eating a bit more. We expected him to open his eyes any day. 

May 19. Day 11. 



To keep him safe from the house cats, I keep his little box in an unused bird cage. 

May 20. Day 12. 


I took Squeak with me to our church's Women's Retreat. This time, I took the car power converter and plugged in the heating pad the whole time so his cardboard incubator stayed warm. 

May 21. Day 13. 


May 22. Day 14. 


May 23. Day 15. 

It was at this point that we decided Squeak must have an infection preventing him from opening his eyes. We applied antibiotic ointment and gently massaged his eyes open. 


May 24. Day 16. 


So far, Squeak is doing really well. He survived the car trip, and is eating like a champ. This week, I'll crumble some adult rabbit droppings in his box since kits start solids with those to build the proper bacteria. 

I'm crossing my fingers that this guy makes it!


May 25. Day 17. 


Adult rabbit droppings, aka processed hay. With good gut bacteria. 

Soccer Bean



This is Bean's second soccer season. He's on a team with friends from church and he loves it!

Thursday, May 12, 2016

Snapshot: Trail Gator


This is a perfect solution for a blind kid on family bike rides!

Saturday, May 7, 2016

Mother's Day Project Weekend

For Mother's Day, I wanted to have time at the cabin to work on projects. Specifically, I wanted to build an outhouse. 



I bought a bunch of recycled lumber at our local Habitat store. Then I drew plans and did a lot of math to design the structure. 


Before we got going on the outhouse, hubby and I worked on building two swings for the kids. We finished one, and decided to do the other one tomorrow. 


For lunch, we built a campfire in the new fire ring and grilled burgers. Those sure hit the spot during a day of hard work!


Hubby and I spent the rest of the afternoon deep in construction. This was by far the largest project I've tackled myself, and Hubby hasn't done a lot of construction work. 



Once the frame was finished, we turned the kids loose with paint. They did a great job painting the outhouse!


We installed the roof and hung the door. Inside, a reinforced platform with a real toilet seat makes things comfy. 

Tomorrow, we'll finish installing the roof and do a few finish details. 

I know it sounds weird that I'm absolutely thrilled to build an outhouse for Mother's Day, but that's just me. I love to make things, and I love our cabin. 

Snapshot: How Bean Does School


On a pile of couch cushions. Because... why not?

Snapshot: Twilight


Wednesday, May 4, 2016


One of the drawbacks of living with six people in a tiny cottage that only has one bathroom is a lack of privacy. As the kids get older, they need more privacy to dress and wash, and bedtime has become a long, drawn out turn-taking festival. 


As an attempt to provide some more private spaces without resorting to moving into a McMansion, I hung some privacy curtains, both in the bathroom and in the laundry. Now there are more places to dress, at least!


Sunday, May 1, 2016

Cast Party

The cast of A Comedy of Errors voted to play laser tag for our cast party. 


The kids all joined in wholeheartedly and had a ball. 


Getting a picture inside a laser tag arena is pretty much impossible, but we don't need photos to remember the fun. As a bonus, the group of 20 people were all really nice and easygoing, and it was fun to play with people we knew. 

Saturday, April 30, 2016

2016 Renaissance Faire


"Tweetle Tee" and "Tweetle Tum" tap dancing. 


Abi tried the bungee jump. Curly did too, although she wasn't keen to go very high. 


Every year, the kids look forward to the craft tent. Community members donate recycled items, and glue and tape, so the kids get to exercise their creativity and make something fun with a huge supply of craft items. 


At the food court. The Bigs were still finishing their swords in the craft tent. 



Hubby and I visited our camping friends who were running the beer garden. The kids enjoyed the sand pile and we enjoyed the break. 



Friday, April 29, 2016

I Laugh Because...

On a listserve I'm a part of, another adoptive mama asked a very thought-provoking question about one of the most difficult aspects of blindness. I've removed any identifying information for her privacy, but I wanted to post the exchange here in my ongoing pursuit of education and advocacy. 

Initial question:

Hi, I am in *** right now adopting a **-year-old girl... Her [obviously blind] eyes are drawing rude stares--gawking, really--and comments everywhere we go.

And what can I do about the endless gawking? I assume I cannot stop it, but how have you let it stop bothering you, when the very premise of the staring is that there is something so odd or unacceptable that all social niceties can just be cast aside?

I feel awful for her, and I feel awful for me. I don't know if the right thing to do is to accept this for what it is, and decide that if others don't like it, it's tough; or, to make her appearance more cosmetic and socially acceptable, at the expense of making her question herself.

My response:

Hi *****,

When we brought our daughter home, her eyes were really damaged and she also carried her cane, so we got the stares. One little kid stared so hard he walked into my son, then got so embarrassed he ran into a girl's accessory shop to hide. We had to laugh!

Now I have learned to simply ignore the staring. People are just curious. If I happen to catch someone's eye, I'll smile at them or even say hello. I think my choice not to be bothered by it is what determines whether my daughter is bothered by it. If there is a particularly obtrusive person or if someone makes ignorant comments, we laugh about it later. 

As far as trying to cosmetically improve it, there are prosthetic shells that let in light. So that might be an option. And sunglasses, as others have suggested. But in all honesty, trying to fix it would be for your comfort, not for hers. I would wait until you can ask her what she would prefer to do with her appearance and then do that. If she is not bothered by stares, then maybe it's nothing to worry about. 

Her direct reply to me (other people also responded but in the interest of brevity, I'm only reposting my direct conversation).

Hi Erin,

This is not a rhetorical question; I truly wonder how this is possible.

How do you laugh about ignorant comments or obtrusiveness? 

What seems most difficult about blindness to me--admittedly as someone with only [a short time] of experience parenting [a] blind child...--is how other people view them. At home with my... daughter, I see her as entirely normal, and her blindness impacts almost nothing I do, with the exception of my mentioning to her if the refrigerator or dishwasher doors are open. But as soon as we go out in public, much of what happens there serves to remind us that she is "different," and of course, this "difference" is never good. She almost never seems blind to me until other people treat her that way.

How could I laugh about something that feels far more like the problem than the blindness itself could ever be? Could you give me a few examples of what you do?

What I would really like to do is to protect *** from knowing that there are people out there who would make them disabled in a way that blindness itself does not. Perhaps this is impossible.


Hi ****,

As a person with low vision myself, I've spent plenty of time being angry, frustrated, hurt, furious, sad, whatever about how other people treat us blind people. I've had people call me stupid, aloof, clumsy, faking, attention-seeking, and whatever else. I've had potential employers tell me there is no way I could do the job I was applying for, even though I'd successfully done it before. 

Do I like being treated like that? Of course not! Do I find it humorous? Of course not!

Then why do I laugh? Have you ever had life go so sideways that it goes into the realm of ridiculous? Have you ever had someone be so mean that you simply stop caring? 

Sometimes it still bothers me, but do you know what I've learned? It's their problem, not mine. They are the ignorant, small-minded people and I'd far rather be blind than that. 

So when the lady on the bus asks me if someone will die and donate their eyes to my daughter, I get home and just laugh. A laugh as in really?? Someone actually said that??

Or when the 58th person gushes and said she is so amazing and gets along so well and I'd never expect her to do so well, my daughter and I get home and we add it to our tally and we laugh. As in, can you believe so many people say such silly things?

Life is too short to let all of those things ruin my day. Yes, we advocate all the time to teach people a better way. Blind people are constantly educating others whether we want to or not. But it's going to take time for people to learn that ignorant comments, even well-intentioned ones are hurtful. And until that happens, do I want myself and my daughter to be miserable every time we go out in public? Or are those comments really just small annoyances, like a mosquito, that you can mostly ignore and laugh them off? I'd say that. Sure, I'd like to live in a world where no one judged me as incompetent based on my level of vision, but you know what? It doesn't matter, because I know I am smart, capable, confident, gracious and able to do anything I want, and so is my daughter. So their comments can't do anything to change that. That's why I laugh. I laugh because I'm stronger than their ignorance. 

Rainy Cabin Dinner


In spite of a steady drizzle, we headed up to the cabin for some projects, relaxing, and dinner. 


When we first arrived, everyone was chilly, and the stove wasn't hooked up yet. Soon, though, we had the stove pipe hooked up and a good fire going. 


The kids sat by the wood stove and played games. Hubby and I puttered around. I took a shovel and hand graded the road where the delivery truck had put ruts. Because of the rain, the ground was soft and easy to fix. 


Hubby cooked dinner. We've discovered that a one-pot dinner makes a quick and easy cabin meal. 


After dinner, we opened and installed our Smart Splitter. I'd found this gadget online in an attempt to find a tool that I can use and that's safer than an axe. We were beyond pleased with the results. It was easy for both of us to use and won't fly into anyone's foot. 


The kids stayed busy with indoor activities, and as Bean says: "This was a great cabin, Mommy."