Tuesday Tip, Never Leave Home Without a Spare

image of a metal cane tip

When hitting the road, every driver should have with them a spare tire, just in case an emergency arises.  As a nondriver, my spare cane tip is something I carry with me in every purse,, backpack, or tote bag.

Featured above is a photo of the metal cane tip zipped in that side inner pocket of my bags.  If you want to know why I choose the long white cane (also known as the NFB cane) over the shorter, heavier, slower moving cane with the red tip, I invite you to read on in my, “Meet the Rupps,” blog post.

What is something you never leave home without?

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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?”

 

 

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.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Happy Halloween

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I am such a kid when it comes to Halloween.  The decorations of slightly spooky touches are here and there and everywhere in our house.  If my husband let me have my way, there would be cobwebs hung from every doorway, and orange and black everything.  We’ve managed to keep a happy medium with bewitching classy  yet sophisticated spookers.

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The other night, I single handly carved both pumpkins.  Hubby had homework to finish, so we all set up shop together in the backyard to enjoy one another’s company while he edited and I carved.

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The kids were all about helping, until it was time to stick their hands in the pumpkin and pull out the guts.

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Not a bad job for my first solo pumpkin carving, especially since part of the first pumpkin was already rotting away.  We’ll just call this one our aperra singing jack-o-lantern.

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And this one?  He’s our Jack-o-lantern with the lazy eye.

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What I’m most excited about his Halloween are our costumes.  Last year we dressed up as the Super Rupps, with Supermom wearing a wine bottle opener on her sparkly purple utility belt that matched her sparkly purple cape.  I’m bummed we don’t have a decent family photo of the Super Rupps.

This year,…

Marley is a, “Fairy Princess Pirate from the Pumpkin Patch Neverland Hunting Forest.”

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Jackson is a, “Firefighterman.”

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Hubby is Hazmat Control from the CDC.

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And I’m the Tooth Fairy.

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This is my first year EVER incorporating my cane as part of my costume.  I miraculously fit into my high school senior prom dress, had the hubby cut out paper teeth for my toothy tiarra, and topped it all off with a giant construction paper tooth on my cane.

After pressing publish on this blog, we’re rushing out to a park play date this afternoon with a little 2.5 year old boy who just received his first cane.  Both his parents are also blind, and great role models for all kids both blind and sighted.  I’m excited for Marley and Jackson to meet them.  I’m positive this will just be our first play date of many.

And lastly, we will be ending our day with chile, trick-or-treating in a neighborhood where the community actually still celebrates with hundreds of kids running around, and roasting marshmallows around the fire pit.

Here’s to a safe and Happy Halloween to you and your little ghosts, goblins, and gools.

 

 

 

 

 

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

 

An Update on Marley Jane and Mrs. Cane

Could you, would you, ever imagine a child going to school in a wheelchair and being told that she couldn’t use her wheelchair in the classroom because it wasn’t a school district issued wheelchair?

Could you, would you, ever imagine a child taking his inhaler to school and being told he wasn’t allowed to use it because he hadn’t yet been approved by a certified school employee?

Could you, would you, ever imagine  a blind child being denied access to her cane in her classroom?

That was exactly what happened in our case.   Just a few weeks ago, I wrote about how Marley was excited to bring her cane to school in the blog post, “Marley Jane and Mrs. Cane.”  She’d named her cane on a recent hike, and asked if she could bring Mrs. Cane to school.  What other answer could I give her but an enthusiastic, “Yes, of course you can!”   We made sure to go over all our cane rules with Marley before heading to the classroom.  We explained to her teacher that we want to encourage her to use the cane, and went over our rules about the cane with them as well.  After school that day, Marley excitedly told us all about how she told the other kids that it wasn’t a stick, it was her cane which she uses to help her find things by tapping in front of her.

That was on a Monday.

Just two days later, on Wednesday, my husband and I met with her teacher to go over Marley’s IEP and progress in the classroom.  I left the meeting knowing that even though things might be moving slowing with getting Braille integrated and implemented via her IEP, due to legal logistics and bureaucratic school district red tape in the form of assessments, parent signatures, more assessments, and more parent signatures, we would get Braille sooner than later as long as we kept pushing for it.  In the mean time, I will be personally putting Braille in Marley’s classroom while we wait.

That day, a few specialists from the CCSD Vision Services came to observe Marley in her class, toss the ball around with her to test her motor skills, and make the decision that Marley was not allowed to use her cane at school.   Upon receiving this news from her preschool teacher when picking Marley up at the end of the day, i thanked her for the message, and told her I’d take care of the issue.

How did I feel about that?

Frustrated, furious, and fuming would be putting nicely how I felt that evening.

What did I do?

First, I posted the situation on Facebook for support and advice from my friends, especially those who were professionals in the field of Teaching Blind Children, Orientation and Mobility, and advocacy.   I was right to be upset.  This was completely against ADA law, and against the National White Cane Law.  This was exactly like the airlines telling us we can’t have our canes.  Denying a blind person access to tools of independence is denying them the right to participate in society, and in life.

Second, after calming down a few degrees, I called Marley’s TVI (teacher of the visually impaired) the next morning to find out what had actually been said and why.  She explained she had not been there when the other school district employee had made the decision about Marley’s cane, would find out for me the details of the situation, and would give her supervisor a call.  I’ve never actually met Marley’s TVI in person.  Marley’s case had been transferred to her on the first week of school.  I am please to say that I get great vibes from her positivity and willingness to work with me for Marley’s best interest in mind.

That afternoon I received a call back from the supervisor of vision services per my request.  She explained the school district employee was concerned that Marley had not had proper training with the cane by a certified CCSD Orientation and Mobility (O&M) instructor.  She was afraid of Marley getting hurt or hurting others with her cane.  She wanted to wait until and O&M specialist could evaluate Marley with her cane.  I explained that Marley has indeed had great training on the cane, that she has also observed me with my cane her entire life, she has always wanted a cane of her own since before we were even aware of her eye condition, she understands and aknowledges that her cane helps her from tripping and running into obstacles, and most importantly that Marley is excited about using her cane.  Why would any adult want to take that from a blind child?

Shortly after our phone call, I received this email which had been sent to all members of Marley’s educational team.

“I understand Marley Rupp is bringing a cane from home to school. One of our teachers expressed a concern about her bringing her cane to school because it wasn’t issued by CCSD. From my discussions with Ms. Huff, my understanding is Marley is using it in a safe manner. Marley’s mom expressed she would like Marley to have access to her cane during the school day. Also, she informed me Marley has had private instruction on how to use her cane. My recommendation is for Marley to have access to her cane during the school day as long as she is demonstrating safe use of it . Also, I am asking one of our orientation and mobility specialist to visit Wright ES on Monday and observe Marley’s use of her cane.  I do recommend completing an orientation and mobility referral and a CCF 555, so proper assessment can be administered.”

Though it might look like we’ve won this battle,  my heart breaks thinking of the damage which has already been done.  Immediately following, Marley expressed she no longer wanted to take her cane to school.  She was afraid she would get in trouble for having it, and she was afraid of someone taking it away from her.  She has also started having night terrors again, and talking in her sleep about her cane.  I find myself constantly telling her to keep the tip on the ground and in front of her.  Worst of all, I was forced to take it away from her before school because of her behavior and misuse of it.

What do we do now, and how to we heel his wound?

We bring the excitement back!  We get her wanting to use her cane again.  Even better,  we help her feel proud of her cane.

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

Marley is in the middle of track break until the first week of November.  During this time, we will have our cane with us everywhere we go.  We take every opportunity to educate anyone who might have questions about it.  We even spent last Saturday celebrating both Marley and her little brother’s birthdays with a picnic adventure hike where Marley got to show off her awesome purple cane to her friends.  All of her friends now want a purple cane just like Marley.   We will even be decorating our canes and using them as part of our Halloween costumes as our fairy wands.

Marley and Jackson's adventure birthdayMarley and her cane with her little brother and friends on their birthday adventure hike

Together, especially my little Marley and her Mrs. Cane will change what it means to be blind by redefining rules, mystifying misconceptions, and conquering our dreams one tap at a time.

Marley and Mrs. Cane, midstep, midtap

 

 

Marley Jane & Mrs. Cane

Ever since she was little, Marley has always wanted her own cane.  So, of course, when we found out that she’s got mommy’s eyes, we didn’t hesitate to get her one.  What was the first thing we did when her cane arrived in the mail?  We made it purple, Marley’s favorite color.  For the first few months this purple cane remained nameless, until just last Saturday when Marley decided that her cane’s name was Mrs. Cane.

Marley and Mrs. Cane led the way as we spent an afternoon hiking at Spring Mountain Ranch State Park just outside Las Vegas.

 

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It’s apparently obvious that her steps are much more confident when she’s got Mrs. Cane with her.  After many spills, scraped knees, and stubbed toes, she’s starting to realize that she doesn’t have as much of those when Mrs. Cane is there too.

Last week during a thunderstorm, Marly ran into the house to grab Mrs. Cane saying, “I want to see if my cane sounds different in the rain!”

Mrs. Cane doesn’t always go everywhere Marley does.  It’s still a work in process getting her to want to take it along.  We work on the basic cane rules, and practice proper cane etiquette when she does have it with her.

Rules like:

1.  A cane is not a toy, it’s a tool.

2.  Nobody is to hold or use the cane accept Marley.

3.  The cane’s tip always stays on the ground unless when tapping it.

4.  The cane needs to be in front not behind so it can do it’s job right.

5.  If you’re not using the cane, it needs to be lying flat on the floor or standing straight upright so that it won’t trip anyone.

Today was a big day for Marley and Mrs. Cane.  Marley asked if she could bring her cane to school with her.  Of course I said yes.  I have been hesitant to push, wanting her to do it once she felt ready.  Today was that day.

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How was Mrs. Cane’s first day of school? ”

Great!  The other kids called it a stick, but I told them it’s a cane and I tap it like this.” as shetapped rhythmically

Her teacher also said she did great.  There were a few times between station rotations where Marley wasn’t sure where to put her cane and a few kids tripped over it.  We’re all excited to learn new tricks, tools, and tips together and work as a cohesive team with Marley’s best interest in mind.

 

 

“WE ARE ALL HUMAN BEINGS”

As we continue on through our Marley and Me saga, I make it a point to make blindness and the word blind something Marley will relate to with proud and possitive feelings, not ugly or negative ones.

So often in the world blindness is accompanied with sadness, pity, shame, grief.  It is my goal to abolish any negative ties to blindness in my daughter’s world.

If the world could only view things through the eyes of an innocent child, it would be a much more beautiful place.

During one of our discussions about the word blind, I had explained to Marley how people who need to read Braille and use canes are called blind.  Marley’s response, “And we’re all human beings!”

One of my favorite photos from this summer.  Even with reaching around with both My cane and Marley's cane, we still barely manage to make it halfway around that giant redwood tree.

One of my favorite photos from this summer. Even with reaching around with both My cane and Marley’s cane, we still barely manage to make it halfway around that giant redwood tree.