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."

Thursday, April 28, 2016

Adventures in Cajun Cooking

When it comes to flavor, I'm a pretty adventurous eater. (Textures, not so much. No bugs or worms or feet or fetuses for me, thanks.) I love trying ethnic flavors and recipes, and I'm not afraid of a little spice. 


Last weekend, our family attended the Idaho state NFB convention, and one of the participants came from Louisiana. He brought a donation of a fun bag of Cajun food packets to share his New Orleans flavors with Idahoans who live 4,000 miles away. 


I've never had Cajun food before, so I'm excited to give it a try. Abi, my spicy food girl, is equally enthusiastic. The other kids are hesitant, but I bet they'll be good sports at least. 


It helps that it smells amazing!

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Tactile Carcassonne

Poster board, foam for cities, puff paint for roads. Jewels for shields and various shapes for the little people. Also, each piece has Velcro on the back to stick to a felt mat. 

Bring on the next family game night!


Monday, April 25, 2016

Messy Independence

I just empowered Abi and her friend J (who is also blind) to get water from the bathroom sink to pour on the sand without help. I'm not sure if this is a good thing or a bad thing* LOL

*its a good thing. #independence #dirt

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Cody quotes

Me: "Ask Daddy to plug in your iPad."

Cody: "It's not at dead percent."

 Me: "Run up and give this to Natta."

Cody: "I'll just walk."


Cody: "There's a world record I want to beat."

Me: "What's that?"

Cody: "The world record most times going up an escalator. It's a world record. I looked it up in the book."


Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Moving On Up

Today was moving day!

The kids watched, enthralled. 

In its new home! It's weird to have it level. 

Some new features: a screen door, Seth's bird house and a dinner bell. 

We also started the wood pile. 

Monday, April 18, 2016

A Comedy of Errors... In Space

Some still shots from the play that Natalie and I just finished. Such a blast!

(See how many nerd "Easter eggs" you can find!)