“Unstoppable”

I’m excited to finally have these, “Unstoppable,” Braille T-shirts available so that everyone can show the world how, “Unstoppable” they are.

Why did I choose the word, “Unstoppable?”

Two reasons.

Reason 1.  My Aunt Say.  For those of you who have followed my blog for a few months now, you may remember me writing about her.  Last October, at the age of 48, she suffered from a stroke.  For the first few days following the stroke, she was paralyzed on her left side.  Two months later, she walked into her newly remodeled house (a welcome home surprise from her sisters) with the assistance of a cane.  Today, she is walking, cooking, cleaning, and …driving!   She is, “UNSTOPPABLE.”

Reason 2.  My Mini-Me, my Marley.  She is the ultimate mirror of her mommy.  At the exact same age, she displayed the exact same symptoms, and we have the exact same diagnosis of Optic Nerve Atrophy.  Just like her mommy, she doesn’t let anything stand in her way.  She is a determined, courageous, creative, passionate, and UNSTOPPABLE little girl.

Are you Unstoppable?  Show it off by wearing one of these, “Unstoppable,” Braille T’s.

 

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A Dream is a Wish Your Heart Makes

Marley meeting Cinderella

A dream is a wish your heart makes.

When you’re fast asleep.

No matter how you’re heart is dreaming.

If you just keep on believing.

A dream that you wish will come true.

Marley and Cinderella

Last Easter I had a dream.  I dreamt that one day, my Marley would be able to participate like her sighted peers in the beloved childhood tradition of hunting for Easter eggs.

For years, I ran a mommy and me meet up group.  Every year we held our annual Easter egg hunt potluck.  Families brought treat filled eggs to share, the Easter Bunny hunted eggs with the kids, and of course the picnic tables were full of tasty both home made and sore bought delectable delights.

IMG_2584 IMG_2656

Marley always had a great time, but her basket always contained a fraction of the other kids.

Last year, I was no longer running the mommy group.  We attended her friend Sophia’s birthday around Easter.  The kids dyed hard boiled eggs, and had their own private Easter Egg hunt in Sophia’s backyard.  Marley’s friend Olivia filled up her basket before Marley even had a single egg in hers.  Noticing this, Olivia than helped Marley find eggs for her basket.  Marley had a blast at the party!

We also spent the week of Easter in California visiting family and spent Easter afternoon at my aunt’s.  She has a large grassy backyard perfect for egg hunting.   Jackson could  care less about hunting for eggs.  All he wanted to do was play with the cool tractors, dinosaurs, and swords.  Marley put her heart and soul into feeling around for eggs.  Just as she got close to finding one, one of the big kids swooped it right up.  This happened over, and over, and over, and over.   Once again, Marley had a blast just being there and being part of the action.

That egg hunt in my aunt’s back yard broke my heart.  Here was a 4 year old girl so excited to hunt for eggs with her cool older cousins.  There they were, those older cousins running circles around her piling eggs filled with goodies into their baskets.  There Marley was delicately feeling her way through the grass searching for eggs, and swipe.  Just before her fingers touch it, it’s gone.

One of my favorite quotes come from Walt Disney.  “If you can dream it, you can do it.”

I took that dream and I declared that it will be a reality in 2015.

the Nevada Organization of Parents of Blind Children are collaborating with the Nevada Blind Childrens Foundation and will be delivering this dream on Saturday March 28th at Sunset Park in Las Vegas.  We are in the starting stages of plans.  We’ve secured a time, date, place, face painter, balloon artist, and volunteers for arts and crafts.  We just need to secure the beeping Easter eggs, and donations for food and candy.

I can’t even begin to tell you how excited I am to we working on this event.  Stay tuned for more updates as it comes together.  Best of all, stay tuned for the blog I will pubish on Monday March 30th sharing all about Marley’s first Beeping Easter Egg Hunt.

 

Life is Tastier When You Create Your Own Recipe

Have you ever taken a bite of something so delicious your entire body could practically taste it?  Ever wonder how you could replicate that mouth watering savory sensation?

Stop wondering, because you will never be able to duplicate that exactly as the chef prepared it.  And seriously, why would you want to?

Why not take it, and make it your own?

I have a new motto I want to share with you.  “Life is tastier when you create your own recipe.”

For example, that box of Bisquick in your pantry.  The recipe calls for

2 cups Bisquick

1 cup milk

2 eggs

Box of Bisquick

Why stop at just that?  Why not add

blueberries

strawberries

bananas

chocolate chips

coconut flakes

oatmeal

nuts

What could be better than starting your day with smiley face pancakes with blueberry eyes and a strawberry mouth?

smiley face pancakes

For Valentine’s Day, how about strawberry heart pancakes?

Valentine's Day pancakes

I hope you realize that I’m not just talking about pancakes here.  Where would the world be if we all stuck to the recipe on the box.  Just imagine…

What if Thomas Edison stuck to the recipe on his box?

What if Dr. Martin Luther King stuck to the recipe on his box?

What if Bill Gates stuck to the recipe on his box?

What if Steve Jobs stuck to the recipe on his box?

Ever think about the box the blind are placed in?

Blind people are often placed into a soft, padded, protected, illiterate, unemployable box with low expectations.

What if Dr.  Jacobus Tenbrook, Dr Kenneth Jernigan, Dr. Marc Maurer, and Mark Riccobono stuck to the recipes on their box?  Who are these men you ask?  These are the past and current president of the National Federation of the Blind.  In 1940 Dr. Tenbrook organized the National Federation of the Blind.  This is an organization of the blind, not an organization for the blind.   We are changing the misconceptions about blindness, a movement tearing down the walls of inequality, we are blind scientists and blind engineers inventing our future, and we are blind educators and parents teaching the next generation of blind children that they CAN live the life they want.

Marley on the Braille writer

Do you remember Christine Ha?  Just a few years ago she was the winner on the show the Master Chef.

People!  We are all master chefs!

Get out of that box.

Make life zestier.

Make life sweeter.

Make life spicier.

Whatever you do, just make it YOUR recipe.

grilled chipotle chicken salad

 

 

 

How to Make a Sweet and Simple Braille Valentine

25 hand made Braille Valentine's Day CardsWhat can be sweeter than a home made Valentine’s Day card for a preschool Valentine’s Day party?  Hand made Valentine’s written in Braille.

I’ve never really considered myself the, “Crafty Mom.’  I like to think of myself is the, “Creative Mom.”

What did I do to create these adorable sweet and simple Valentines?

Step 1.  On the unlined side of a 3×5 index card, I wrote in Braille, “Happy Valentine’s Day,” on the top left, and, “Love, Marley,” on the bottom right.

Step 2.  I measured, folded, and cut rid construction paper just big enough to glue behind the card, hiding the lined side of the card, and creating a red border around the white.

Step 3.  Marley placed tactile bubble heart stickers on the top right of the index card.

Step 4.  Marley glued the index card onto the red construction paper.

Step 5.  With a hole puncher, I punched two holes on the bottom left and tied a red bow.

Step 6.  Daddy wrote the same words in print on the back of the card.

I thought about glueing Hershey kisses onto the card, or taping a heart sucker to the back, but decided against adding any extra sugar since I knew she’d be coming home with a box full of sweets.

I shared the photo on Facebook yesterday.  My mom called after seeing the photo and asked where I’d bought them from.  She said they looked professionally done.  I told her, “Nope, they were a Marley and me project.  They were simple.  They were easy.  They were fun!”

 

 

Tweet Tweet, what’s that sound?

All of a sudden, I am hearing twees, chirps, buzzing, and dings left and  right.  What the heck is going on here?  I can’t keep up!  From twitter, to Groupme, from Facebook, to Whatsap, everytime I open my phone there are at lease 18 new notifications.  You would think I’m overwhelmed by the constant inflow of social media alerts.

Nope, not I!  I thrive in this constant communication.  Knowing that I’ve got things to do, people to respond to, and taskes to complete keeps me on my toes

I wake up in the morning with a list of goals to accomplish.  Now-a-days it seems like my list is longer than ever, but that just means more structure.  This type A mom thrives in structure.  Calendars, lists, charts, and spreadsheets are my Christmas.

As I move along responding to those tweets, chirps, dings, and buzzes, I think, “Hmm…what a great blog post!”  Along with the soon to be written post on public restrooms, recipes, and toilet paper.  Don’t miss any of it.  If you want to stay on top of those quick instant posts, follow me on Facebook or Twitter.

Until I write again,

MamaRupp

 

 

Just Let Her Spread Her Wings and Fly

I am feeling discouraged, disappointed, and disgraced which is the complete opposite of how I thought I’d be feeling this afternoon.

All last week Marley was disappointed because we told her she wasn’t going to be able to participate in her school’s Fun Run on Friday.  The run was postponed to today due to rain.  Once we learned that it had been moved, we signed her up and in less than 24 hours, Marley raised about $25/lap in pledges from family and friends.  Her goal was to run 20 laps.   She ended up running 15.

As I’m sitting here typing, my stomach is tide in knots, and tears are flowing.  Marley wasn’t allowed to fully participate like her sighted peers in the run.  The entire time she was out there, there was someone holding her hand.  She even had to stand on the sidelines for a brief stand of the run watching the other students running past her.  When she did get to run, she had to hold onto another child’s hand the entire time.

This is a girl who sprints around the neighborhood while her mommy jogs.  This is a girl who can run two miles without stopping.  This is a girl who runs into any and all situations without fear, without doubt, and without inhibitions.

What the fuck!  What is going on while I’m not there?  Is her hand constantly being held?  Is she coddled?  Is she held back from reaching her true potential because of low expectations, because of fear, because of liability?

On our way home I asked her how she felt about the run.  Without any enthusiasm she replied, “It was ok.”   Digging deeper, I asked her how it felt to run, and how it felt when she had to run holding her classmates hand.

Marley’s answer, “I love running because I feel free, like I can fly.  When I was holding someone’s hand I couldn’t move my arms like this, so I couldn’t fly.”

Those powerful words came directly from a five year old’s heart.

Dear Marley,

Mommy wants you to know that you can spread those wings and fly.  Don’t let anyone ever tell you you’re not good enough, smart enough, fast enough, strong enough, or pretty enough.

Love,

Your Biggest Fan, Mommy

 

 

 

C is for Choice

obstacle

I asked my husband to creat me an image from his website TheSeedProject.net for my, “C is for Choice,” blog, and this is the image he emailed me.  At first, I thought, “Wow I love the words, but a few leaves don’t look like much of an obstacle.”  I asked him why didn’t he choose something more, “Obstacle or Opportunity,”ish like a trail or a mountain.  That’s when I discovered that I was only seeing the leaves, and not where they were coming from.

This was a photo from our trip to the California Redwood Forest last summer.  A Giant Redwood had fallen on it’s side, cut at a straight horizontal angle, and it’s face had been completely charred during a fire.  From this fallen, chopped, and charred tree spring life in the form of these little fern leaves.

Merriam Webster defines, “Choice,” as

the act of choosing : the act of picking or deciding between two or more possibilities

the opportunity or power to choose between two or more possibilities : the opportunity or power to make a decision

a range of things that can be chosen

As a parent, I often feel like my choice is worth more now than ever.  Every single decision I choose not only effects me, it also effects my children.  Whether we realize it or not, those choices big or small might possibly be the defining moments that shape your child or stick with them into adulthood.

It has been almost exactly a year since Marley was diagnosed with Optic Nerve Atrophy.  I wrote all about it in my, “Marley and Me Musical Chairs,” post.  Once upon a time not to long ago, I felt angry, guilt, grief, and fear.  I was so incredibly afraid of the challenges my daughter would face in life.  I was afraid that, like her mommy, she would be bullied by the mean kids in school, afraid that she would be ashamed of who she was, afraid that she would fall through the cracks in the educational system, and worst of all I was afraid that she would blame me for her blindness.

What does being afraid get you?

Nothing.  Fear only brings more fear.

I chose to shift my fear into a fierce passion for a future full of endless opportunities.

Last November, I and a few other parents, organized the Nevada Organization of Parents of Blind Children. My vision for this organization is to reach every single parent of a blind or visually impaired child in Nevada.  As human beings we thrive when we connect with other human beings.  Blindness can be a scary thing.  Blindness can be a life changer.  However, blindness can also be empowering and powerful.

If we as parents choose to fear blindness, than our children will too fear blindness.  Instead of fearing blindness, I choose to embrace it.  When I hold my long white cane, I feel confident.  I feel as if nothing can stop me if I have my can with me.

Marley has even begun to acknowledge her feelings.  The other night while cuddling in bed after we’d read a few pages from her Braille copy of , “Amelia Bedelia,” she whispered that she felt nervous about using her cane, especially if I wasn’t there with her using mine.  This was after a long four day weekend where both my husband and I had been busy in classes and my mother in law was flown in to stay with the kids.  She didn’t want to look different or want to have people look at her.  I told her it was ok to feel nervous, but we needed to figure out a way to turn that nervous feeling  into a powerful feeling.  We talked about all of the fun times we’ve had while using her cane like on our hikes, our camping trips, and decorating it and taking it trick-or-treating on Halloween.  We also talked about the times she tripped and fell because she didn’t have her cane with her.  So instead of feeling nervous about anymore, she chooses to feel happy, safe, and powerful when she has it.

Two days later, a classmate shared the following video on Facebook and I knew it would be the perfect end cap to this blog.  It’s taken me almost a week to finally dedicate a few uninterrupted moments in posting, “C is for Choice.”

Until I write again, let’s all choose to make it a powerful week!

Tipsy Tuesday – Creating Literacy Skills Kits to Target the Expanded Core Curriculum

I believe this is the perfect way to start off my Tuesday, and so I must share it with you.  No, it’s not the tipsy you’re probably thinking of.

Tuesdays on Blind Mom in the Burbs are now for Tricks and Tips for success in making life just a tad bit more easier for blind moms and dads, blind students, teachers of the blind, the newly blind, and even the sighted.

While checking the time on my phone first thing this morning before my alarm went off, I notice a message from a fellow blind mom.   This is too good to keep to myself, So… here you go!

If you are a parent of a blind child or a teacher of the visually impaired then you absolutely need to check this out.

Click here to learn about how you can creat literacy skills kits to target the expanded core curriculum

bag of goodies

I hope you all have a terrific Tuesday!

 

Happy Birthday Louis Braille

Happy Birthday Louis Braille

Six dots. Six bumps. Six bumps in different patterns, like constellations, spreading out over the page. What are they? Numbers, letters, words. Who made this code? None other than Louis Braille, a French 12-year-old, who was also blind. And his work changed the world of reading and writing, forever.

Louis was from a small town called Coupvray, near Paris—he was born on January 4 in 1809. Louis became blind by accident, when he was 3 years old. Deep in his Dad’s harness workshop, Louis tried to be like his Dad, but it went very wrong; he grabbed an awl, a sharp tool for making holes, and the tool slid and hurt his eye. The wound got infected, and the infection spread, and soon, Louis was blind in both eyes.
All of a sudden, Louis needed a new way to learn. He stayed at his old school for two more years, but he couldn’t learn everything just by listening. Things were looking up when Louis got a scholarship to the Royal Institution for Blind Youth in Paris, when he was 10. But even there, most of the teachers just talked at the students. The library had 14 huge books with raised letters that were very hard to read. Louis was impatient.
Then in 1821, a former soldier named Charles Barbier visited the school. Barbier shared his invention called “night writing,” a code of 12 raised dots that let soldiers share top-secret information on the battlefield without even having to speak. Unfortunately, the code was too hard for the soldiers, but not for 12-year-old Louis!
Louis trimmed Barbier’s 12 dots into 6, ironed out the system by the time he was 15, then published the first-ever braille book in 1829. But did he stop there? No way! In 1837, he added symbols for math and music. But since the public was skeptical, blind students had to study braille on their own. Even at the Royal Institution, where Louis taught after he graduated, braille wasn’t taught until after his death. Braille began to spread worldwide in 1868, when a group of British men, now known as the Royal National Institute for the Blind, took up the cause.
Now practically every country in the world uses braille. Braille books have double-sided pages, which saves a lot of space. Braille signs help blind people get around in public spaces. And, most important, blind people can communicate independently, without needing print.
Louis proved that if you have the motivation, you can do incredible things.   This bio was taken directly from the American Foundation for the Blind 

Word of the Week – Authentic

I sat down to write this blog Monday morning as the light bulb lit up for more creative ideas on reaching my goal of 75 blogs in 75 days.  I’m a little behind, so in my attempts on catching up and staying, “Authentic,” I’ve decided to start each week off with a vocabulary word.

A is for Authentic.

Merriam Webster defines, “Authentic,” as being exactly as appears or as claimed.

Synonyms; bona fide, certiviable, certified, dinkum, acht, genuine, honest, pukka, real, right, sure enough, and true.

Antonyms; bogus, counterfeit, fake, false, phony, pseudo, sham, spurious, suppositious, supposititious, unauthentic, and unreal.

I define, “Authentic,” as staying true, true to oneself, true to the cause, true to the experience, true to the emotion, and true to others.

I feel as if I am more authentic to myself and to others when I have my long white cane with me.  The cane is not an identifier to the world that I am blind, however it shows the truth that I used to hide for so many years.  I am proud of my blindness, proud of my cane, proud to have a daughter who is learning that blindness isn’t what defines us, but merely one of our super powers that we can choose to tap into to succeed and shine.

Marley, me, and our canes at Spring Mountain Ranch State Park on her birthday adventure hike

How do you define, “Authentic?”