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?”

 

 

High Five Sister!

With my face in my coffee mug, after another sleepless night of taking care of my babies I found this in my inbox.  What a great way to  start a day!  Thanks Chrys.  XOXO!

Hello Terri,

My name is Crys Bradley and I just discovered your blog via a post you had tagged Tracy Eikleberry in on Facebook (he and I went to high school together).

As a person with low vision myself,  I read anything I find on Facebook related to blindness,  especially when I find it unexpectedly on a friend’s timeline.  😉

It’s great to find another visually impaired person with a positive outlook on life. Sometimes I feel like people expect us to be sad all the time.

While I’m not a mother and still have a significant amount of vision,  I hear myself in the words of your posts. I wish I had found your blog when I still lived in Vegas. I live in Colorado now and I love it. I moved out here because the quality of life I had dreamed of was so readily available. It’s absolutely gorgeous here!

At any rate,  I just wanted to commend you on your “full speed ahead” approach on life and motherhood. And I’m so impressed that you braille your own books — what a task!  You are an inspiration to someone who wondered how I might raise children with reduced vision.  I am often told by friends and coworkers that I do things so fluidly they sometimes “forget” I have an impairment.  I too, just do it.  But motherhood frightens me.  I’ve always said that there are blind mothers everywhere who do it everyday. I guess I need more vicarious experiences.  I look forward to reading more of your posts!

All the best,
Crys

How does a blind mom handle a puky and poopy day?

Since this is a milestone blog, my 100th blog, what better to write about than puke and poop?

Disclaimer, you may not want to continue reading if you have a weak stomach.

I have spent the last two days, and nights, dealing with puke and poop.  While I was scrubbing the poop off of the toilet seat, edge of the tub, and the bathroom floor yesterday, I laughed out loud at myself.  Only I would laugh and think, “Wow, this is going to make an awesome blog post!”

I chose my words carefully as I titled this post, “How does a blind mom handle a puky and poopy day?”

I’ll tell you how?  I literally, “HANDLE,” it.  Yes, quite literally, that’s the only way to know if you’ve got all of it up.

Let’s begin with Thursday afternoon.  As I prepared dinner, Jackson ran past the kitchen, ” I have to go poopoo!”  So what?  He announces every time he runs to relieve himself.  Only this time, instead of hearing the toilet flushing and the sink running, I hear the bath water get turned on.  I make my way to see what’s going on to find Jackson in the tub scrubbing his bottom with soap.  “I poop mama, and I wipe myself, and washing my butt.”  Ok, that’s great, takes care of the bath I was going to have to handle later.  I left him to cleaning himself, picked up his pants and tossed them on the bathroom counter for the time being while I had to check the pasta.  A few minutes later, I returned to check on him and turn the water off.  It still smelled awful in there.  Then… I realized why.

Checking to see if there was still poop floating in the toilet, I found it.  The smeers on the toilet seat.  Then I noticed the mile long drapery of toilet paper so commonly found in houses with toddlers, and as I began rolling the roll back up, my fingers stuck to the paper, and I found it again.  He was too adorable to be grosed out by.  He’d tried wiping himself, but never tore the paper off the roll.  Then… I found it again… when I pulled his underpants out from his sweats and felt the nice lump in the fabric.  There it was.  We haven’t had one of these in months. Poop in the underpants.  Those underpants went straight to the trash outside.  I washed my hands with soap, grabbed the bleach spray, and an old rag, and proceeded to scrub the toilet.

Now let’s move along to 4:00am Friday morning.  All night long Marley had whined and whimpered that her tummy was hurting.  All of a sudden she flew out of my bed, which she’s allowed to sleep in when daddy’s at work, yelling, “I have to throw up!”  If you are just starting to follow my blog, than you don’t know that vomit has been a pretty frequent visitor in our home.  So frequent, that my daughter knows to run to the toilet, trash can, or best of all requests for a throw up bowl to keep next to her when she’s not feeling well.  After that first explosion was over, I rubbed some essential oils on her tummy.  I’m not much into western medicine by the way.  My poor baby whaled as I cradled her in my lap.  I knew exactly how she felt, because that’s how I’d felt the night before.  There is a painful stomach bug loose in our house. Suddenly, she jerked off my lap and before reaching the toilet vomitted again on the floor.  Great… time to wake up, and clean up.

For the next 24 hours, I went through a lot of towels, bleach spray, hand soap, and the kids went through a lot of clothes.  One after the other, that stomach bug was making it’s way out of my babies out both ends.  To ensure that I got it all, I had to really, “handle,” the problem by feeling around in order to make sure there is no mess left behind.  Are those new chips and cracks in that toilet seat, or is that poop?  How far did the vomit splatter that time.  Oh great, I didn’t catch it all in the bowl.  Hurray!  It’s 1:00am and there’s vomit in my bed.

Thank goodness I don’t have a weak stomach, and thank goodness everyone is starting to feel better.  I am crossing my fingers that all goes well tonight.

Cheers to a restful night, to us one and all!

 

Playing Catch Up

On November 28th, I published my 75th blog post.  I ended the post with a challenge to myself to post 75 blogs in the next 75 days.  If you follow me, and read my blog regularly, than you have noticed that I haven’t been around these last few days.  Fear not!  This doesn’t mean I will not meet my goal of publishing 75 blogs in 75 days.  This merely means there will be a few days I will be publishing more than one blog.  Starting with today,  I might just publish one, some days I might publish two, and if I’m really ambitious, I might even crank out three.

Where have I been and why did I miss Saturday, Sunday, and Monday?

I spent the weekend at the annual state convention of the National Federation of the Blind of Nevada.   As I play the game of Musical Chairs, I have decided it was time for me to get back in the game and change negative misconceptions and low expectations about blindness.  Stakes have been raised and rules have changed now that my daughter has been thrown into the court.  You can bet your britches that this mom is NOT going to stand on the sidelines.  I will be the loudest, the most competitive, and the strongest advocate to fight on behalf of my daughter’s rights and the rights of all blind children.

During the convention, I met other parents and we are organizing the Nevada Organization of Parents of Blind Children.  It is my hope for this organization to bring together parents, provide resources, connect blind shildren with positive blind role models, and creat and implement programs for blind children in our state.

I fully intended on blogging via my WordPress ap on my iPhone, but the ap insisted it would rather crash on me.  After the fourth attempt, I took it as a sign that I needed to turn off my phone, take a break, and take a nap.

Sunday on Monday were spent catching up with housework, cuddles with the kiddos, and a lovely afternoon meandering through the Venetian playing catch up with one of my oldest and dearest friends.

And here I am now, back in front of the computer with the kids tucked away in their beds.  I will finish this delicious cup of tea, possibly start a second blog for the night, and start on the glass of wine that’s calling out my name.  I’ve enjoyed catching up.  I hope you have too.

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Marley followed this girl around thinking she was a princess. Suddenly out of nowhere, she worked up the courage and ran up and gave her princess a great big hug.

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Jackson didn’t know what to think of this statue guy. He got more and more frustrated as he tried to give him a dollar.

 

 

“ALL HANDS ON DECK!” URGENT!

As you know, I am hours away from boarding a flight to Reno to attend the National Federation of the Blind of Nevada state convention.  For months now, I have been trying to rebuild the Parents Division.   I made this intention public when I published my blog, “Calling All Parents of Blind Children in Nevada.”

Each and every attempt in succeeding has been thwarted by the affiliate president by the lack of communication.  I had been under the assumption that yes, I can be there to organize, but no I will not have a spot on the floor to speak on the behalf of rebuilding and reorganizing the Nevada Organization of Parents of Blind Children.  Although I was disappointed that my request to address to convention floor had been dismissed, I was still planning to attend to further my goals of connecting with as many parents as possible.

This morning however, I received the convention agenda via email.   To my surprise I have been allotted a time and place for bringing together parents of blind children.

Frustration only fuels my fire and desire for success.

Instead of sulking and playing the blame game, I am utilizing these next few hours to try to get the information out to as many people, as quickly as possible.  I CANNOT do it alone.  Please help me.

Tonight you will find me at the Harrah’s Hotel in Reno in room Payute #1 from 6:00 p.m.-7:00 p.m.  I hope to be addressing a room full of parents of blind/visually impaired children.  It is our duty as parents to support one another, to teach, to advocate, and to ensure our children have as bright of a future as their sighted peers.

I also invite anyone who is interested to join me for lunch tomorrow, location TBA.

Below is more detailed information of times, rooms, and the Hotel address.

Thank you all for your love and support,

Terri Rupp

702-524-0835

terri.rupp@gmail.com

NATIONAL FEDERATION OF THE BLIND OF NEVADA
STATE CONVENTION 2014
Harrah’s Hotel Reno
219 Center Street
Reno, Nevada
(775) 786-3232

Registration cost: $20.00
Banquet cost: $55.00
Dues are: $10.00
NABS dues are: $5.00

Friday November 7, 2014

NABS meeting: Business, scholarship information… Payute #1 East Tower …5:0-6:00 p.m.
Anil Lewis, Janesha Murphy and Benjamin Dallin
Parents Organization of Blind Children: business, constitution, rebuilding …Payute #1 6:00 p.m.-7:00 p.m.
Board of Directors meeting Payute #1 7-9 p.m.


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My First Fashion Blog

I follow a lot of blogs about all different topics.  One of which happens to be a fashion blog called Eccentric Owl.  Mrs. Owl has been writing for years, but now fits in the fact that she is a fairly new mom with her joys and struggles of parenthood into her stylishly superb posts.  So today I decided to try my hand at my very first fashion blog.

For a long time I struggled with the fact that I wasn’t contributing financially into our household.  I know this is a common feeling amongst stay at home moms.  Many of us feel guilty for not working, thus we feel even more guilty for spending any extra money on ourselves.  I emphasize the fact that I used the word, “struggled,” noticed it is past tense.

Why did I feel like that?  I suppose it was my insecurities that kept me from realizing that even though I don’t bring in an income to our home, I do so much more for our family by being here with our children each and every day at such a vital time of their growth and development.  I had feelings of anger and jealously whenever my husband made purchases for himself.  I often felt like, “Well, if he’s buying something, then I’m going to buy something too.”  There were times when I felt sad and depressed for not having financial freedom.  Which was a complete crock, because I could have anything in the world I wanted without any questions asked.

How did I overcome this?  I honestly don’t know.  I don’t know when I stopped feeling that way.  There was no, “Ah ha,” moment of clarification.  There is now just the mutual feeling of love, respect, adoration, and most importantly appreciation for my husband who gives me the best gift I could ever ask for, the gift of the opportunity to be a stay at home mom, the gift to be there for my kids.

A second thing I struggled with in the beginning of motherhood was the fear that I would loose touch with the rest of the world.  We don’t have cable in our home, and sometimes I don’t even leave the house for days at a time.  I was mostly afraid of turning into a frumpy stay at home mom.  Notice again that I used the word, “struggled.”

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Ain’t no frumpy stay at home mom here anymore.

This weekend I am going to be attending the National Federation of the Blind of Nevada annual state convention.  For over a month now I have been passionately and actively trying to bring together parents of blind children in our state.  This weekend is the weekend I have been working for where we are coming together to reorganize the Nevada Parents Organization of Parents of Blind Children.

This not so frumpy stay at home mom has lost a ton of weight, and all of her business attire is about two sizes too big for her, it was time to do some shopping!

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Since I’m not on the convention agenda or addressing the floor, I luck out in not having to wear a suit.  This means business casual will be fine.  This means, NEW DRESSES!!!

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Dresses and leggings were from Express, and boots are from Aldo’s.  IMG_2992

This weekend, I will stroll into the hotel looking and feeling strong and confident.  I will stomp down any and all obstacles that might try to stand in my way with my sexy new boots.  I will accomplish my goals, all while looking good.

Before I say farewell, I have one question for you.  Leggings, or no leggings?

 

 

The Life of a Blind Wife of a Firefighter

Whew!  Try saying that title ten times fast.

I recently received an email from a reader who has Retinitis Pigmentosa (RP).  This is a degenerative eye condition which usually leads to blindness.  She has a seven year old, and wants another baby before both she and her child get any older.  However, she is afraid since her vision has been, and will be continuing to worsen, that caring for two children will be even more of a challenge.  She asked me if I and other blind moms, parent alone, or are our husbands home with us to help.

For those of you who don’t know, my husband is a fire fighter.  He works 24 hour shifts, and is sometimes gone for 48 or 72 hours at a time.  We also live in a small master planned suburb where the nearest bus stop is about 3 miles away on the opposite side of the Interstate 15.  Our community has everything I might need on an everyday basis like the grocery store, restaurants, UPS, dry cleaner, dentist, Starbucks, Walgreens, 4 great parks within a mile of our home, an Ace Hardware store, a nail salon, and much much more.  We purchased our home here for the local conveniences and for the quiet and tranquil feel of a small town, set away from the hustle and bustle of Las Vegas.  The downside is that it often makes me a slave to the suburbs.

I’m not going to lie, living in the suburbs of Las Vegas, being blind, and having a husband who is gone for long hours is a challenge.  Let me ask you this question.  What in life isn’t a challenge?  I bet standing on one foot is a challenge to many.  I bet singing the, “Star Spangled Banner,” is a challenged to many more.  Learning a new language might seem like a challenge to some, but how incredible is it when you get to speak that language in it’s native country?  Learning how to read and write might seem like a challenge to a young child, but the joy of literacy cannot be achieved without taking the fear of failing and putting it to the test everyday by the first simple task of learning the letters of the alphabet.  Before you know it, that child is reading is first book!

One of my biggest challenges is transportation.  Yes, we do live within walking distance to many things I might need, we also live in a non-pedestrian friendly city, where the public transit system is a laughing joke compared to other metropolitan areas.

How do I overcome this challenge?

1.  Hubby’s fire station is close enough for him to ride his bike to.  This;

a) leaves our family car available for me to use, with a driver of course.

b) gives him a work out to and from work.

c) is great for the environment and cuts down on our gas bill.

2.  I have an amazing network of friends I’ve worked hard in creating that I like to call my Village.  I can’t emphasize the importance of a good support system, especially since we don’t have family nearby.  Both my parents and my husband’s parents live in Northern California.  These women don’t just help me.  We all help and support each other.  We are there for one another to provide a shoulder to cry on, with arms to hug and comfort heartache and pain, with laughs over a good glass of wine, and tonight, with a long overdue Mons Night Out.

3.  Lastly and most importantly, hubby and I have a strong and healthy relationship based on mutual trust and respect.  Together, we have built a foundation for our children to safely thrive.   Our own individual strengths and independence have thus transformed  into the web of interdependence, making it even easier for ALL OF US to succeed.

I’ll end today’s blog with this bit of advice, don’t take those lemons life hands you and merely turn them into lemonade, turn them into lemon meringue  pie or better yet, lemon custard pie.

Until tomorrow, make it a great day!

 

I like it with the lights on

Light-bulb-moment

Sometimes, I wonder, do other blind people like it with the lights on?

I mean…when you enter a room, do you automatically reach for the light switch and flip the lights on?

when you are in the bathroom, do you use it with the lights on?

When you are in the kitchen, do you cook with the lights on?

When you step outside at night, do you turn the lights on?

Why do we do that?

I am perfectly capable of wiping my butt with the lights off.

I can, and have, cooked many many meals with not just the lights off, but while under a blind fold.

So, I ask, why do we do it with the lights on?

Is it because societal norms have taught us to turn the lights on when entering a room?

Is it because sighted people do it?

Is it to fit in with our sighted counterparts?

Wouldn’t our energy bills be at least half the price, if we didn’t do it with the lights on?

So to my blind friends, answer me this , do you like it with the lights on?

 

 

 

Choose to Be Happy

Smiley face pancakes with blueberry eyes and strawberry lips for Marley and Jackson

Smiley face pancakes with blueberry eyes and strawberry lips for Marley and Jackson

Life is about choices.  From the moment we wake up in the morning to the moment we close our eyes at night, we are faced with hundreds of thousands of choices.  What to wear, what to eat, coffee or tea, and that’s just the first few.  How about choosing how to feel?

Have you ever considered that choosing how you feel could be something you have complete control of?  This is a concept we are working with our children on.  We choose to be happy.  Nothing is strong enough to keep us down.  There may be bumps and bruises that cause us to cry from the initial pain, but in order to move on we choose to get back up again with a smile, laugh, and learn what could have prevented those tears.

Last weekend, I chose to commit myself to myself.  That was not a typo.  I registered and made the first move in fully committing to creating a better me.  Come January 15th I will begin this journey through an intensive self discovery and leadership program that focuses on emotional intelligence.  Hundreds of people travel from all over the country, and the world, to participate in this program.  I fortunately only need to travel about 20 minutes from my front door.  I’ve observed the break through and changes my husband has gone through, and am both nervous and excited to experience my own.

I teased him the other day that he was using words from the program on me.  Our Friday afternoon was a hectic one.  The morning had flown by.  It was noon and we had an hour to get out the door.  That didn’t happen of course.  After scrambling to finish my blog for Halloween, him scrambling to finish commitments he’d started on that morning, we were finally ready to leave.  ?The kids were strapped in the car.  We went over our check list of must haves before driving away and realized we didn’t have Marley’s cane.  The next half hour was spent searching every closet, corner, in and under every bed and couch, combed every inch of the backyard, and couldn’t find it anywhere.  Marley couldn’t remember where she’d put it, and I let my frustrations of me overcommitting to too many events in too short of time come out in this one predicament.  Hubby caught me snapping at Marley, and said, “Back off of Marley.  This is our breakdown.  We shouldn’t take it out on her.”

He was right.

I sulked, sighed, and chose to change my mood.  We got back in the car, and we headed off to our first event for the day.  Even though Marley didn’t have her cane with her.  It was still a successful play date.  We met little Dillon and his parents, all three of whom are blind.  Dillon’s mom and I had arranged the play date so that Marley could show Dillon her cane.  He had recently been given his first cane and doesn’t want to use it.  We met them at their house, and all walked to the park together.  Marley and Jackson showed Dillon’s mom their Halloween costumes by what we call, “Seeing with our hands.”  Jackson was excited to see Dillon’s dad had a cane too since his Daddy doesn’t have one.  Fun was had by all as the kids ran, swung, climbed, hid, and slid, and us grown ups bounced ideas around and made plans for future outings together.

Like I tell my children when they are upset, let’s make a choice on how we will feel for the rest of the day.  Let’s choose to feel happy.

Now, go out and make it a Happy day!

Need a little help on getting started?  Go to www.24hoursofhappy.com for an instant boost.

This website cannot be view over mobile devices, so if you don’t happen to have access to a computer at the moment, than watch it on YouTube instead.

 

 

 

 

 

 

E is for Educate, F is for Farm

Marley, Jackson, and I under the McKee Ranch sign

Every day is a day to educate the world about blindness.  I especially love when I am given the opportunity to tell a child about my cane.  You see, I am not totally blind.  I have some vision, but not enough to read print, and prefer to use a cane if I want my steps to be confident instead of uncertain.  Not all blind people are totally blind.  Some may prefer to use the term visually impaired or having low vision.  Visual acuity measured at 20/200 is what is considered legally blind.  Not every blind person uses the same terminology, just like they may not use the same tools.   A person may choose to read Braille, while another person may choose to use magnification devices.  A person may choose to use a cane, while another person chooses to use a guide dog.

I walked around without a cane for 22 years of my life before being introduced to the National Federation of the Blind and attended the Louisiana Center for the Blind, what is commonly referred to as the Bootcamp for the Blind.  This was when I received my very first long white cane, where I learned how to read Braille, and was introduced to the NFB’s philosophy that whether blind or sighted, if a person is given the opportunity, and the training, they too can compete equally with their sighted peers.  This also,  was where I gained confidence to travel independently.  So, when a child asks me what that stick is, and the parents tell them to shush.  I jump at the opportunity togive a lesson about the cane and the common misconceptions about blindness.

E is for Educate.

A cane is a tool for independence.  The metal tip reverberates sound and vibrations of texture to allow the user to use echo location to gather information.  The fact that this cane, the long white cane, does not fold, means very little information is lost from the tip to the handle.  A simple tap can let you know if the building is in front of you or slightly to the left.  While walking through a parking lot, echo location from the metal tip informs you upon coming up to a parked car or even a shopping cart.

“What about those canes with the red handles?”

Those canes with the red handles are shorter, heavier, have a plastic or rolling tip, and since they fold into something that can be tucked into a desk drawer, backpack, or purse, are not what I’d prefer to choose for a mode for independent travel.

The long white cane allows me to travel with speed, accuracy, and confidence without the aid or assistance of a sighted person.

F is for Farm

Our most recent lesson on blindness was given to a family on a hay ride during a visit to our local neighborhood farm.

hay ride

You read that right.

hello Mr. GoatWe’ve got a fully functioning farm complete with all sorts of barnyard animals to pet and feed only two miles from our front door.

hello Mr. Horse

We visit McKee Ranch every October when it is transformed into a pumpkin patch.

hello Mr. chicken

We can’t forget about the old fashioned merry-go-round.

Jackson on the merry-go-round

The highlight this year were Marley and Jackson’s first time riding a pony.

Marley on the pony

Jackson on the pony

And Marley even got to meet Farmer McKee himself.

Marley and Farmer McKee

All in all, I’d say it was a great day!

Oh Miss Marley on the farm

Oh Miss Marley on the farm

E I E I O

And on the farm we had our canes

E I E I O

With a tap tap here

With a tap tap there

Here a tap

There a tap

Everywhere a tap tap

Oh Miss Marley on the farm

E I E I O