Kite Flying

IMG_5102Picture your child standing in a grassy field, hair blowing in the wind, face lifted up to the sky, a huge smile across their face, and arms outstretched as they hold onto the tugging strings of a kite.  Flying a kite is an activity all children, whether sighted or blind can enjoy.  With a little patience and guidance, the uplift of the right gust of wind can take colorful tails up and over impossible heights.  As parents, we might fear failure, or a crash and burn, but if we put our trust in the wind, our children can not just fly, they’ll flutter, float, dance, and soar freely in the sunshine.  

 

I write a monthly newsletter for parents of blind children, and this was originally written for the BEE; Early Literacy and Movement for Young Blind Children, NFB Braille Reading Pals Club & NFB Early Explorers Program.

 

Family Information Raising Expectations

Last summer, I was elected to serve as a board member on the board of directors of the National Organization of Parents of Blind Children.  As many of you know, I am not just a blind mom, I am also a parent to a blind child.  Serving on this board has been extremely rewarding.

One of the projects I’m honored to be a part of is the Family Information Raising Expectations Teleconferences.  Since January, we have hosted monthly calls on such topics like,

What is the National Organization of Parents of Blind Children?

Transitions

NFB National Convention and the Annual Conference of the NOPBC

Educational Programs of the NFB Jernigan Institute

Low Vision

and this evening, I just hosted the call on

Blindness and Babies, Toddlers and Transitions.

Some may wonder why I spend so much of my time, energy, and passion on this organization.  Why not?  Why not be a part of change?  Why not help parents of blind children find answers to how to raise a blind child?  Why not connect experts in the blindness field with parents who have no idea where to turn since their so called professionals aren’t providing them with the answers they need?

I do it all for the same reason I put myself out there in writing this blog.  If the message only reaches a handful of people, than it was worth the work.

To the grieving parent who has just been told that your child will never see, you have nothing to fear.  Don’t treat your child any different from their sighted peers.

To the child with low vision feeling lost and confused.  You are not a broken or incomplete sighted person.  Faking it is exhausting, and the sooner you embrace non visual techniques, the less time you’ll be second guessing yourself.

To the blind parent unsure of how they will change a diaper, feed their child, keep track of a toddler, or help their kids with homework.  You are not the first blind parent!  Hundreds of thousands of blind parents all over this Earth have raised children.

To learn more about the National Federation of the Blind or the National Organization of parents of blind children, or to listen to the calls which are being produced into podcasts, visit www.nfb.org or www.nopbc.org. Continue reading Family Information Raising Expectations

Dare to Discuss…”Whole Hearted Parenting, Daring to Be the Adults We Want Our Children to Be.”

Earlier this year, I joined my neighborhood mommy group book club.  I found myself reading novels, I would have never chosen on my own.  Although they were entertaining, and filled up time, they weren’t anything like the self transformational reading I’ve sort of found addicting. The great thing about reading these books is, I’m never at a loss of what next to read.  I’m always left with a list of books referenced in that current read.

I dare my readers to join me in the book, “Daring Greatly, How the Courage to be Vulnerable Transforms the Way We Live, Love, Parent, and Lead.”  by Brene Brown.

If you are not familiar with Brene Brown, take a look at her famous Ted Talk on the Power of Vulnerability.  I’ll even make it easy for you and post the video right here at the end of this post.

After reading Brene’s book, “The Gifts of Imperfection,” and now, “Daring Greatly,” both my husband and I have noticed a significant transformation in how I live, love, parent and lead.

I found what Brene shares in chapter 7 on whole hearted parenting, daring to be the adults we want our children to be, hitting close to home in recent events.  In this chapter, she asked this question to some of her research participants…

“What do parents experience as the most vulnerable and bravest thing that they do in their efforts to raise whole hearted children?”

“Letting their children struggle and experience adversity.”  was the answer she found across the country.

I pose this same question to my readers.

Let me share an example from my youth.  Did you know that it wasn’t until the age of 15 years that I learned how to use a knife and fork to cut my food?  I was attending a summer program for blind and visually impaired middle and high school students at the California School for the Blind.  This was my first time ever attending a program just for blind and visually impaired students.  The first evening we were served chicken and I had no idea how to cut the piece of meat.  I was taught the simple method of finding the edge of the chicken with my fork, stabbing a piece, and cutting around the fork.  Many of my friends would find that to be quite a surprise because we always joke that their blind friend is the one who slices the thinnest cheese, can chop onions with her eyes closed, and cuts the prettiest watermelon displays.

At 22, hacking away the umbilical cord my parents had tethered on to me for so long.  Leaving the nest with no safety net below, literally flying half way across the country I took my first steps towards independence when I began my blindness skills training at the Louisiana Center for the Blind.  In no way do I want to sound resentful.  You see, I come from a traditional Cambodian family.  I am their first born, and I happened to have a little trouble seeing.  It was only natural for them to want to protect me as long as they could.

As a parent now, I try to model the person I want my children to be by being that person myself.  I also trust that my children will only be strong, resilient, compassionate, whole hearted human beings through the lessons learned in the adversities they’ll face.

“I’m Not Just a “Blind” mom. I’m a (insert adjective here) Mom”

I was asked to write a piece about parenting for the National Federation of the Blind Blog.  Below is what I wrote which was publish on Mother’s Day.  What kind of mom would you describe yourself, or your own mom as?

There are many different kinds of moms out there.  The crunchy mom who makes her own almond milk, the crafty mom who makes every birthday party decoration or teacher gift from scratch, the soccer mom, the yogi mom, the play group mom, the PTA mom, the new mom, the empty nest mom, the ___(fill in the blink)___ mom.  Me, I may be seen in my neighborhood or at my daughter’s school as the blind mom, but I’m so much more than just that.

I am no expert, but having been a mom for over six years now, I can safely say I feel comfortable writing about motherhood.  In the words of Malcolm Gladwell, “Practice isn’t something you do when you’re good at something, practice is something you do to get good at something.”  I use this quote on my six-year-old daughter and four-year-old son all the time when they complain about not wanting to practice reading, tying their shoes, riding their bikes, or the words to a song.

The same thing can be said about parenting.  Being a parent is tough.  Popping out a baby doesn’t make any mom an expert.  There is no manual that pops out along with that baby.  Social workers have no right telling a new mom that she’s unfit to take care of her baby because she may be having trouble getting her newborn to latch on.  Half of the new moms out there have difficulty nursing.  Motherhood is beautiful and scary for all moms whether blind or sighted.

When I first became a mom, I struggled like many new moms with postpartum depression.  I felt isolated and alone.  My husband worked long hours. He was sometimes gone for seventy-two hour shifts at the fire house.  I had no family in town to help me.  I had a baby that cried all the time, threw up all the time, and went from living in a condo in the city to a house in the suburbs.  A few months before my daughter’s first birthday, I’d had enough of feeling sorry for myself.  The self-pitying, self-loathing, frumpy, sad stay at home mom had to go.  That wasn’t the Terri my husband fell in love with, and that wasn’t the person I wanted my daughter knowing.  In order to change, I had to get up, get out, and get active.

I got up out of my smelly clothes, found a mommy meet-up group, started my own neighborhood mommy group, got back involved in the National Federation of the Blind, and I found the more I did, the happier I became.

Human beings are social beings.  We weren’t meant to be isolated in stucco dwellings, gated away from the rest of the world only to communicate through the internet.  Our mothers before us raised their children as a village, so we new mothers must make our own villages today.  Whether that village is a mommy group, a church, aunts and grandmothers, or our Federation family, we must support one another so that not only our children stay healthy and happy, but that we as moms are also healthy and happy.

That sad, lonely, mom version of me is long gone.  Today, I am a happy, healthy, outdoorsy, creative, innovative, assertive, nurturing, organized, engaging, silly, sassy, stylish, stay at home mom living the life I want.

You can find this originally posted at https://nfb.org/blog/vonb-blog/i’m-not-just-“blind”-mom-i’m-insert-adjective-here-mom

April Showers Bring May Flowers

April was an abnormally wet one for us.  Yesterday mother natured ushered out the month with one last storm.  The desert dwellers of the Las Vegas Valley are more used to summer monsoon storms than these long, cold, wet stretches which resemble more of the California spring weather I grew up with.

But… April showers bring May flowers.

photo description, rose bushes with a talll fountain behind them with a clear blue sky

On this morning, the first morning of what I predict to be the first day of a beautifully colorful month, my senses are savoring every bit of sweetness floating my way.  From the aroma of coffee mixed with the fragrant Jasmine breezing in from the front yard.  From the moisture and puddles of yesterday’s storms still lingering around.  Even the distant splashing of the fountains and birds chirping their morning songs.  The sunshine coats it all with maternal warmth and saplings all around stretch just a little bit extra this morning embracing another day.

As mother nature nurtures, so do we as parents to our sprouting buds.  In order for our little ones to grow into resilient, compassionate, and strong human beings, we must tend to both their physical and emotional needs.  It’s every parents goal to protect their children from the ugliness of the world.  However, remember that each seed is different.  Some may need a little more water, while the next one over might drown with a little too much.

Parents, educators, family members, and the village of which that garden grow all contribute to the produce which we hope to yield.

Instead of continuing this post into a lengthy one, I am going to end it here.  My husband and son are cooking us breakfast, my coffee is getting cold, and my daughter wants help watering her purple and blue flowers she personally picked out from the nursery and planted a few weeks ago.

Happy Sunday, and happy gardening.

My Tasty Day! What’s on Your Menu?

On Friday, April 1, 2016, I enjoyed a tasty day.

Image of a heart with the words, %22Love, Laugh, Live,%22 in Braille

I chose a heaping serving of love and laughter for my life.

early birthday sushi lunch 3

Each bite was savored to the fullest..

my kids eating cupcakes

I suckled up every tasty ray of sunshine.

sitting in the garden enjoying the sunshine

I overindulged in sweet smiles.

Jacson in his Star Wars shirt and Star Wars shoes standing in the sunshine

 

Stretching out every second like it might be the last, and ending the day feeling complete contentment and bliss.

cuddles with the dog

What’s on your menu?

***My day is still not over yet.  Currently, we are barbequing a huge piece of tri-tip, veggies, fixing up a yummy salad, and just downloaded Star Wars the Force Awakens.  I can hardly wait to finish off this tasty day with dinner, a movie, and of course a glass of wine in the hot tub.

 

Just a Blind Girl

just a blind girl, Marley and me holding our canes

On our drive home from our Southern California Spring Break Beach Vacation, while sitting in traffic which made a four hour drive into an eight hour drive, we found ourselves listening to a whole lot of music.  A particular song from my teenage years, popped out to me.  Do you remember No Doubt’s song, “Just a Girl?”  Here’s something fun!  How about singing, “Just a Blind Girl,” the next time you hear that song?

 

Take this big ribbon off my eyes

I’m exposed, and it’s no big surprise

Don’t you think I know exactly where I stand

This world is forcing me to hold your hand

“Cause I’m just a blind girl, little ol’ me

Well don’t let me out of your sight

I’m just a blind girl

all pretty and petite

So don’t let me have any rights

Oh… I’ve had it up to here!

The moment that I step outside

So many reasons for me to run and hide

I can’t do the little things, I hold so dear

‘Cause it’s all those little things, that I fear

“Cause I’m just a blind girl

I’d rather not be

‘Cause they don’t let me drive late at night

I’m just a blind girl

Guess I’m some kind of freak

“Cause they all sit and stare with their eyes

I’m just a blind  girl

Take a good look at me

Just your typical prototype

Oh… I’ve had it up to here

Oh… am I making myself clear?

I’m just a blind girl

I’m just a blind girl in the world

That’s all that you’ll let me be!

Oh I’m just a blind girl living in captivity

Your rule of thumb makes me worry some

I’m just a blind girl

What’s my destiny?

What I’ve Isuccumbed to is making me numb

I’m just a blind girl

My apologies

What I’ve become is so burdensome

I’m just a blind girl

lucky me

Twiddle-dum, there’s no comparison

Oh… I’ve had it up to!!!

Oh… I’ve had it up to!!!

Oh… I’ve had it up to here.

 

Never heard of the original?  Here’s No Doubt’s, “Just a Girl.”

 

 

 

 

The trials, triumphs, tears, and travels of a stay at home mom in the suburbs of Sin City

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