Do You Want to Build a Snowman

As the temperatures drop drastically.

 The desert dwellers pull out their parkas and winter ware.

And I,

I dig through photos of winters past for a fun one to share.  Rupp family + snowmanWelcome to Las Vegas in the winter.  Just minutes outside of the city you’ll find Mount Charleston covered in powder.  Last year, you would have found Mr. Snowman Rupp.  Daddy Rupp, Mama Rupp, and the little Rupps built him on our first trip up in November and each time we visited the rest of the season we saw that he was the photo op stop for all other family visiting the area.  Glad the Rupps could add to the flurious fun for everyone!

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Today Was a Musical Monday. Does Your Family Have a Theme Song?

I dub today our musical Monday.

We love music.  It’s pretty obvious if you haven’t noticed by now.  I mean, really, our children’s names are Marley and Jackson.  Pretty recently after Jackson began talking, I overheard the following conversation between the kids.

Marley, “Jackson are you Bob Marley?”

Jackson, “Yeah.”

Marley, “No you’re not.  You’re Michael Jackson, and I’m Bob Marley.”

Just last month, during their birthday adventure hike, one of the parents asked the kids what song we should all sing, and Marley replied, “Hey Jude!”

Today was especially a musical day around here.  Yesterday, I was looking for a magical do-over button to start the day over with more energy and in a better mood.  Wel, found it.  It was in the form of a good night’s rest.  This morning, I awoke ready to welcome in a new week with rhythm and bounce in my steps.

Pancakes were served with a side of kids songs on Pandora.  We dance, jumped, and shook our booties to, “The Wheels on the Bus,” “Five Little Monkeys,” “Oh McDonald,” and of course all of our Disney favorites from, “Do You Want to Build a Snowman,” “Hakuna Matata,” and “Under the Sea.”

We finished off our day with homemade ice cream after dinner accompanied by more calory burning craziness.

A few songs we love love love, songs that I like to think of as our family theme songs are;

“Everything is Awesome,” from the Lego Movie

“All You Need is Love,” by the Beetles

“Happy,” by Pharrell Williams

“Count on Me,” by Bruno Mars

“Give it Away,” by the Red Hot Chile Peppers

“Get Up Stand Up,” by Bob Marley

and of course, our all time favorite to belt out on our countless road trips, “Hey Jude,” by the Beetles.

Does your family have a theme song?  If you’re answer is no, then get working on finding one.  If yes, I’d love to hear what it is.

I leave you with this, if you didn’t get a chance to do so today, it’s not too late to get tomorrow off to a great start by turning up the tunes and giving it all you’ve got.  You can do it.  I guarantee you’ll feel great afterwards.

Have a fabulous week!

Happy 1st of November

Happy first of November to you and yours.  There’s nothing very clever or insightful I have to write about today.  I’m still trying to wake up and clear my head from the wine and candy from the night before.  Our Halloween festivities kept us out until about 1am.  It’s noon and we just ate breakfast.  Now, what on Earth are we going to do with two grocery bags full of candy?  Luckily, I found a willing 20 year old to pon off one of the bags to.  I’m sure he and his room mates will enjoy it.  I’ve hidden the other bag so that we aren’t tempted to sneak anymore.  Those will be saved to be used as bribery treats.  I see no shame in bribing my kids.

Here we were about to get in line to enter a awesome neighborhood haunted house.  By then Marley and Jackson had ditched their fairy wings and firefighter helmet, and I'd lost the tooth off of the top of my cane.

Here we were about to get in line to enter a awesome neighborhood haunted house. By then Marley and Jackson had ditched their fairy wings and firefighter helmet, and I’d lost the tooth off of the top of my cane.

Goals for this Saturday… after a cup of hot chai tea, I will…

1.  Put Halloween decor away.

2.  Daily house chores in keeping the house tidy; laundry, clean the kitchen, clean the bathrooms, and pick up the kids rooms.

3.  Get some Braille fun worked into the day with Marley.  I’m designing a tactile board game for Marley to practice her Braille and learn how to read simple words.  I’m also going to order more Braille tape, and clear adhesive paper for putting Braille into books.  You know that contact paper you use for lining drawers and cabinets?  I’ve discovered that that is the most cost effective way to go to turn a regular print book into a book with Braille.

4.  Pull out the slow cooker.  The cool weather has finally arrived in Las Vegas.  The temperatures dropped about 30 degrees overnight.  I woke up the the sound of the wind gusting outside, wind chimes going crazy, and the delicious smell of rain.  It’s going to be a soup kind of night.

And 5.  Get in some sort of physical family fun.  It’s a little too windy for a hike.  Perhaps a family yoga session, or a family dance party with a game of twister?

What does your first of November look like for you?

Until tomorrow, make it a great day!

 

 

 

Sharing is Caring

 

Some people probably wonder why I often write such personal things here on my blog, and some people probably criticize me for being so open about my family and our struggles.   To quote my wonderful husband, in response to those people who ask why,?  “Why not?”

Why not share?  After all, sharing is caring.  I explain this simple concept to my children every day.

Why not share my joys, my journeys, my tears, my triumphs, my loves, and my passions?

Why not give a blind child a glimpse of a beautiful future that maybe one day she too can be a mom?  Why not give hope to a blind parent who has recently received the diagnosis that their child cannot see?  Why not give inspiration to blind students, blind seniors, blind veterans, and everyone else out there?  Why keep my positive outlook on blindness and on life hidden from the world?  Why not share?

Here are two photos I shared on my other blog,  the Seed Project.  I was inspired by my aunt who recently suffered from a stroke.  She was parylized on her left side.  After a few weeks of rehabilitation, she walked into her home, which her two sisters had remodeled for her.  She walked on her own, unassisted by anyone, but the help of a cane.  My aunt is a strong and sassy woman who loves life.  She loves a good glass of wine, she loves to dance, and she has an infectious laugh.  Knowing that in just a few weeks she is able to walk alone while stylishly rocking her cane, I know that she will again one day strut her stuff in sexy stiletto heels out onto a dance floor and shake it.

I am told my so many people that I am an inspiration, but today, I will tell you all that my aunt is my inspiration.

the sunrise at Valley of Fire on a recent family trip with the words, "What is inspiration to you?" across the top

I leave you with this, “Love actively and live proactively,” and don’t be afraid to share.

comic book style photoshopped version of a photo we took on a hike at Red Rock with the words, "Love actively, Live proactively."

 

Saying Bye to the Burbs and Hitting the Road, the Roadtripping Rupps are at it Again!

While 3,000 blind people are making their way to Orlando for a week full of excitement, innovation, and inspiration for the National Federation of the Blind Annual Convention, this mama is preparing for a completely different sort of life changing summer vacation.  Today my little family and I take off on what I like to call our Summer Family Adventure, AKA 2014 Camp-a-thon.  We are hitting the road for the next three weeks in hour Honda Pilot for California, Oregon, and Washington.  Stay tuned for the next post which will be full of photos and stories of our shenanigans.

Here are just a few of the stops we’ll be hitting.

Mt lassen
Mt. Shasta
Crater Lake
Mt Hood
Mt St. Helens
Coos bay
California Redwoods
Big Sur
Morro Bay

 

Whether you’ve got crazy plans like ours, or just some simple backyard fun, I wish you all a safe and happy Fourth of July.

 

First Day of School, Not Here in Our House Though.

Today was the first day of school for most kids in Las Vegas.  Both parents and kids were full of excitement and maybe just a little bit of anxiety this morning.  Alarm clocks buzzing, lunch bags and backpacks getting double checked so that nothing is forgotten, new shoes laced, tied, and double tied for plenty of playground fun, and we can’t forget about those first day photos getting posted to Instagram, Facebook , Twitter, and texted to grandparents.

But none of that happened here in our house.  The kids and I slept in until 8:30am.  My husband and I enjoyed a big breakfast and coffee out on the patio while the kids ran around in their bathing suits splashing in the rain and the kiddy pool water slide.  Now Jackson is napping, Marley is watching Mickey Mouse Clubhouse, hubby working in the garage, and I’m cranking out this blog.

Why isn’t Marley starting school today?  Well…here’s what I told my next door neighbor when she asked me this morning.

Marley is still only three, and not turning four until November.  This means she won’t be starting Kindergarten until fall of 2015 because of the age cut off here in Nevada.  As a stay at home mom, I don’t think it is necessary to send her to two years of preschool.  We spend a few hours each day working on preschool activities, and also incorporate learning into everything we do; from trips to the grocery store, gardening in the backyard, or strolls through the park.  I run a neighborhood mommy meet up group so the kids get plenty of socialization.  My husband’s work schedule gives him quite a bit of time home, making it easy for us to go camping, hiking, to museums, visit local orchards and farms, and take countless road trips exposing the kids to hands on learning opportunities like our upcoming trip to the Astronomy Festival at Great Basin National Park.  We are even giving a little bit of thought about homeschooling our kids completely.

I go back and forth on homeschooling.  There are so many pros and cons  to consider.  As a blind parent I will definitely have a few more challenges with home schooling than a sighted parent.  I can’t read handwriting, so I will have a tough time teaching my kids how to write.  I am not very tech savvy, and a lot of the curriculum comes from online sources, including PDF format which aren’t screen reader friendly.  However, homeschooling would mean we would have more control over our children’s education.  Nevada has one of the worst public school systems in the nation.  We can continue to incorporate learning in our frequent family trips.  We won’t need to worry about things like bullying, unhealthy school lunches, transportation, etc.  Like I said, so many pros and cons.

So for the next two years, at least until I need to make a decision about Kindergarten, my kids will be getting their education here at home.  I’ll talk to more parents who have chosen to homeschool and do the research so that we can make the best decision for our family.  For the next two years we won’t need to worry about alarm clocks on Monday morning delegating the start of another week.  I am going to suck up every moment of our family quality time.  Whether those moments may be adorable, annoying, or aggravating, they’ll be gone before I no it.

Thankful November in a Nutshell

I started out this month intending on publishing a blog post each day on something I am thankful for.  As you can see by looking at my recent posts, I only made it to day 9.

Here it is in a nutshell.

I am thankful for my parents who raised me to know the difference between right and wrong.  They gave me a brother, who gave me two beautiful nieces, and a sister who is the most loyal friend I could ask for.  They instilled in us the importance of family. showed us how to work hard, and taught us how to love and have compassion for others.

I am thankful for my husband’s family.  Without them, he wouldn’t be the man that he is today.

I am thankful for modern forms of telecommunication like cell phones, texting, emails, Facebook, and skype to help me stay in touch with my family and friends all over the world.

I am thankful for all the friends that I made throughout the years, both near and far.  You all know exactly who you are.

I am thankful for the opportunity to be a stay at home mom and raise two beautiful children who are so eager to learn, and never fail to bring a smile to my face.

I am thankful for a warm cozy bed, food in my fridge, and clothes on my back.

I am thankful for coffee, wine, and chocolate.  These are my drugs of choice.

I am thankful for fuzzy socks.

I am thankful for friendly neighbors who watch out for me and my children when my hubby is gone.

I am thankful the stucco guys finally started painting today and we are closer to having our backyard done.

I am thankful for the opportunity to blog and share my life with you.

And oh yes, one more thing.  I am thankful for my blindness.  Without it, I wouldn’t be the person that I am today.  Every experience, every challenge, every of struggle to try to fit in and look normal, every missed step or curb, every triumph, every mile I’ve traveled, every person I’ve met, every child I’ve taught, every person I’ve influenced, every accomplishment I’ve made or will make in the future are all because of my blindness.  I used to imagine what my life would be like if I had 20/20 vision, but then I wouldn’t be where I am today.  If somebody told me there was an opportunity for me to get all of my vision back, I honestly don’t know what I would do.  So until there is a 100%, 0 side effects, consequence free way, I’m going to have to pass for now.

Just a Little Bit Blue

Maybe it’s the stormy weather.  Maybe it’s because I’m feeling sad for my parents who just lost a dear friend and employee of almost twenty years to cancer.  Maybe it’s because I’m still feeling icky with this sort of flu I picked up while in California.  Maybe it’s because it’s almost that time of month.  But today, I’m feeling just a little bit blue.

Perhaps it’s my body’s way of telling me to slow down and smell the roses.  Well not the roses, since we live in the desert, but we do have rosemary and jasmineright outside our front door.  It’s been a busy busy summer around here.  We just got back from our third trip to Northern California since May, (and two of those trips were in August).  These are long eight to ten hours in the car with an almost one year old, an almost three year old, and our family dog.

Our last trip was to attend Aaron’s cousin’s wedding.  There was no way we could have missed it.  We always make such a big deal about family, even though we had just finished that awful drive less than two weeks earlier, we HAD to be there.

There we are at Becky’s wedding. Of course Marley and Jackson refused to look at the camera.

Sometimes I just get a little bit sad that we live so far from our family.  I come from a large, loud, and loving family who always seems to be there at the drop of a dime.  My brother, who will be leaving to Afghanistan in just a few weeks, decided to pay a visit from his post in Georgia over Labor Day weekend to see my parents since they can’t see him because they run a mom and pops donut shop and have both been working 16- hours a day.  Last Friday my mom’s house was filled with lots of aunts, uncles, and cousins along with food, wine, laughter, and recollections of fond memories.  All that was missing was my brother’s wife, there two little girls, and my sister who lives in Texas.   This will be the first Christmas my parents don’t have any of their children home.  You see, growing up it was always my parents’ house that was filled with people on Christmas morning.  It hasn’t been the same since we’ve all grown up and moved away, but we always still try to get together for the holidays.

We already have another trip (which means another long eight to ten hour drive) scheduled in October for Aaron’s sister’s baby shower.  However, feeling the way I do now, my longing and need for my family just might mean that we may be finishing up 2012 with yet another trip up there for Christmas.

My Oh My, How July Flew By

I can hardly believe that it is already August.  What happened to July.  It’s as if I blinked and the entire month flew by.  It seems like only yesterday we were in June, and I was still preparing for the kids’ first flights.  Well folks, I am sincerely sorry that I’ve neglected my blog.  Here’s a little recap of the last few weeks.

We spent the first 9 days of July in Georgia visiting my brother and his family.  He is currently stationed at Ft. Stuart (about 30 minutes from Savannah).  We flew into Atlanta, and visited the Georgia Aquarium, Centennial Olympic Park, and Stone Mountain Park.  We spent an afternoon at Jeckyll Island, a driftwood beach at the southern tip of Georgia.  We spent the 4th of July at Ft. Stuart at an outdoor concert featuring Mario and Martina McBride, followed by an incredible 30 minute long fireworks show.  We celebrated my niece Raelynn’s 5th birthday.  We walked about 50 blocks and marveled at the beauty of historic Savannah.  And did a little bit of exploring in the swamps and parks of Southern Georgia.  All and all, out of everything we did, the best was just spending time with the family and watching the kids play.

After returning from vacation, I decided it was finally time to get serious about potty training Marley.   I went with the Potty Training Bootcamp Method.  This method is supposed to be a sure fire way to potty train.  This is where you say farewell to the outside world for 4 days and forego diapers completely, except for naps and at night.   It’s messy, frustrating, and took longer than just 4 days (it was more like 2 weeks), but I am happy to say that Marley is officially potty trained!

Hmm….now let me see….what else happened in July.

Ahh yes, Aaron and I had a nice evening out with friends at the Cosmopolitan.  We rarely ever get to go out without the kids.  Without any family in town, and the cost of babysitters, the last time we’d had alone was in May when we celebrated our anniversary.  However, I learned a very important lesson that night.  Drinking coffee and wine all day, and barely eating is NOT a good combination.  I found myself on the kitchen floor after passing out while fixing Jackson a bottle in the middle of the night with Jackson on top of me.  Luckily, Aaron woke up when he heard me hit the floor.  And we’re even luckier that Jackson landed on me and not the kitchen floor.  Jackson and I were both ok, and I am now making a conscious effort about staying hydrated.

The rest of the month is a blur of mommy meet ups.  We stay at home moms find all sorts of ways to keep busy.  From ice cream socials, park play dates, brunch and coffee play dates, local fire station tour, purse parties, jewelry parties, all while chasing our little ones around.  We somehow got lucky enough to get the chance to desert the kiddos with daddy and have a deliciously delightful mom’s night out.

What I enjoyed most about July was all of the family time we made happen.  Even though we were busy, we were really proactive in spending quality time as a family.  Most days were ended with a nice 3 mile stroll.  We took the kids out for a family date night which consisted of pizza and live music at the District at Green Valley Ranch in Henderson, where Marley got to shake her booty.  We spent lots of evenings out back enjoying our almost completed backyard.  And we took the family up to Mt. Charleston for Jackson’s first camping trip.  Sadly, Jackson didn’t like camping as much as we’d hoped he would.  Let’s just blame it on his 5th tooth coming in.

Farewell July.  You came and went and left me with many warm memories.

The Road Trippin’ Family

We’re pretty much experts when it comes to taking road trips.  Since it’s just us out here in Vegas, and both our families live in Northern California, we’ve put quite a few miles on the car.

Even our kids are pros.  My daughter took her first road trip at just 8 days old.. Granted it wasn’t planned, she and her still recovering mommy both did excellent.   And my son probably has close to 5,000 miles under his belt with the 2 trips he’s done.

Earlier this month we took a 2-week long road trip to Northern California.  We managed to spend lots of quality time with family,

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toured Alcatraz Island,

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 did a small hike at Mt. Tamalpais up in San Marin,

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 saw Pink Floyd at AT&T Park in San Francisco,

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 left the kids for a night with my mom and celebrated our 5th wedding anniversary at a quaint little B&B in Napa,

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 and even took the long way home down the Pacific Coast Highway stoping in Pismo Beach for the night.

Image With all the time spent in the car, we could have made it all the way to Disney World.

In order to have a successful road trip, we preplanned a tentative itinerary so that we could maximize our time spent with friends and family and minimize time spent in the car.  This is especially important when you’ve got a 7 month old, 2.5 year old, and the family dog.  I have to say it was our most successful one yet.

Now we’re preparing for a family vacation to Georgia and flying with kids for the first time in about a month.  You can be sure that I’ll be blogging about that.