Posted in Home is Where the Hartle Is, Uncategorized

A Day in the Life…Sundays

Some of you have expressed an interest into how we tackle some of our everyday blindness challenges. So I thought I’d start by sharing a typical Sunday for us as it sometimes presents a few obstacles.

My husband and I are different faiths, so Sundays are filled with two church services for us. Our first service begins at 10 a.m. We attend this every week, but how we get there is sometimes a bit unpredictable and I’ll admit, a bit mentally taxing to always be worrying about figuring this out and trying to get everyone ready on time so as to not be making our driver wait. Since we’re never quite sure how we’re getting there, and have to install car seats, we aim to be ready to leave our house around 9:30 a.m. We live a little under two miles from our church building (about a 25 min. walk for an adult) so just a bit too far to walk with small children or in certain weather conditions, though we’ve done it before. When we only had two children, our good friend picked us up and brought us home each week. (See my ode to Betsy post as she’s terrific!) But, now that there are five of us, we’ve outgrown her car. So, we’ve been bouncing around between a few different modes for the last year or so. For a few months, this sweet lady with a minivan offered to drive us out of the blue when she was in town, (she spends part of the year in Delaware) which was great, but there are often weeks where we have to arrange something else. She also just got called to attend another ward near us in a missionary calling, so we won’t be able to ride with her anymore when she is in town. So, we are figuring it out on a week-to-week basis right now. . We’ve bounced around between other families taking two cars, using paratransit services (our least favorite and most inconvenient), or taking Uber. Uber has been our most stable. Lately however, there have not been many Uber XL vehicles (the larger vehicle that holds six passengers) in our area on a Sunday morning, so I’ve been taking a regular Uber with the children while my husband walks. Often someone on their way to church will see him and take pity on him and pick him up on the way since he walks down a main road. I’d also like to just take this time to say what an amazing husband I have! As I mentioned, we are not the same faith, but it is a true sign of love that he’ll leave on a Sunday morning and walk by himself 2 miles to attend a service with me that isn’t really his first choice. Then I finish up getting the three kids out the door, install the car seats in whatever vehicle we are taking, and load everyone up.

When we finally get to church, I shuffle three kids, three car seats, and three bags (diaper bag, the kids’ quiet bag, and my teacher bag—I teach the six year olds so generally have items for my lessons) into the building. If Jesse is there, he meets me at the door. A friend of ours usually saves us a pew too so we don’t have to sit in the back on the hard metal folding chairs. We generally arrive a bit flustered and feeling like a bit of a circus, but no one can say we’re not committed.

Thankfully our church has some great apps, so I’m able to access all the scriptures, words to hymns, and lesson manuals on my phone. They are also available in braille hardcopy and brf files, but the app works the best for me right now, especially since I’m usually juggling a small child. This allows me (with headphones) to read along during lessons. I have some other strategies I use when I teach, but I’ll save these for another post.

After church is a little easier. The kids and I usually ride home with our friend except during the summer when she goes home to Michigan. During those times, I find someone else each week to fill in or we take another uber. It is a little easier because we fit better into a small car since Jesse leaves after the first hour of our church service. He almost always has a ride home from this by a few different friends of ours who offer to quickly run him home between meetings. . Otherwise, he walks.

WE arrive home around 1:30 (Our church service is three hours—Sacrament meeting, Sunday school, and a third class determined by age). Sunday afternoons are filled with lunch, some quiet time or a much needed nap, and a few simple activities. Around 4:45 p.m., we start the process of getting ready to head out the door again—changing diapers, redressing someone, finding shoes and socks… WE then walk to Mass which begins at 5:30 p.m. The church where we attend is about half mile from our house, or a fifteen minute walk. Up until recently we had one walking, one in the stroller, and one in the carrying pack, but now both older ones walk. Our kids are real troopers at walking long distances.

After mass, we head home. Our walks are usually leisurely and the kids chatter on about this and that or we all talk about what we learned in our various services that day or our plans for the week. Sometimes we sing songs, especially Christmas carols around that time of year. It’s great quality family time which I often fail to realize. When we get to the top of our street, our two older kids line up with Jesse for their weekly race home. Sometimes they race each other, or sometimes Jesse sprints down the street while they run on the side walk so he doesn’t take them out with his cane or long strides. “B” and I cheer them on.

 

The rest of the night is filled with typical evening routine stuff. Dinner, prep for school and work the next day, and bedtime. So there you have it. Not much of a day of rest, but a good family day none the less.

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Posted in Parenting Essentials, Tips, Tricks, and Hacks

What’s in Your Bag?

The other day I was sitting at my daughter’s ballet class with my two boys. In our haste to make it to her lesson on time, I didn’t grab anything to keep my boys (3 and 9 months) occupied while we waited in the lobby. So, I began ransacking my bag for random happy meal toys, snacks, or interesting items that would hold their attention. Bonus… I ended up doing a much needed cleaning and purging of my diaper bag/purse.

As I was going through my items, it reminded me of those youtube videos where the women show you what they carry in their bag. I’ll admit, this sounds so silly. I mean, why would anyone really care about the contents of your bag. But, apparently these videos are highly popular. I’ll admit I have found myself watching a few in fascination—like a train wreck—and even with a little curiosity. Maybe it’s because I learn about new products, or just find it strangely fascinating to see how others live or what they do. I mean, isn’t that really why we all love Youtube anyway? In any case, it gave me an idea.

 

No, I didn’t make a video, but I did think that maybe it would be mildly fascinating to share what I carry in my bag as a blind mom. And, maybe this will help a new blind parent out.  I’ll spare you the typical “mom stuff” (i.e., diapers, wipes, snacks, keys, etc.) and stick to the unique essentials I keep with me on a daily basis.

 

  • Extra bells and twist-ties—I put bells on my children’s shoes so that I can keep track of them when we are out in public like at parks, the library etc. It allows me to hear where they are and track them better. But, sometimes the bells get caught on things like the metal grates on the playground and the zip or twist ties break off. My motto, be prepared.
  • Extra plastic bags –this may seem a bit odd, but sometimes locating a trash can is a bit of a challenge when you can’t scan around you visually to locate one. (I.e. like at a park or play area, etc.) If I’m by myself with my children, I don’t always want to take time to go hunting around to locate one with my cane. So, I keep an extra plastic bag in my bag for trash like food scraps or dirty diapers. I can put these items in the plastic bag and keep them in my big bag until I can locate the trash can, or get back home and throw the bag away. Grocery bags work great and you can tie them closed to keep them from spilling or stinking up your bag in the meantime.
  • Small foldable cloth tote—an extra small tote like a mesh bag or those reusable grocery bags which can be folded up and made compact come in handy. For example, when I go to the library, I am usually carrying car seats and don’t have a way to carry books we may check out. It’s difficult to shove them all in my regular bag, so having an extra bag comes in handy. This is also helpful when out somewhere and you stop off to make an impulse buy but don’t have a stroller or car to carry your items home.
  • Cane tips—this is a no brainer if you’re a cane user. Inevitably, your cane tip will wear out at the most inconvenient time, and trying to use a cane with a dead tip is no fun at all.
  • Portable cell phone charger—okay, not really a blindness thing per say, but if you use your phone as an accessibility tool like a magnifier or scanner, these apps can take a toll on your battery. Also, you don’t want to get stuck somewhere when you need to access apps like Uber or Lyft to get yourself home. You charge the portable charger ahead of time and then keep it in your bag for when you need it. No hunting around for a place to plug your phone in.
  • Carabiner clip—this is a great little accessory for hanging things on your stroller. I’ve found this very handy for times when I’m walking home from the grocery store or farmers’ market and have filled the bottom of my stroller up, or ripped the lining of it from overloading it. . . You can hook several bags on the carabiner and attach it to the handle of the stroller.
  • Headphones –again, not necessarily a blindness thing, but since so many of us rely on some kind of speech to use our phones or PDA devices, headphones are almost a necessity. It helps me hear the speech on my phone better when I’m traveling in loud environments or on public transit, not to mention keeps me from annoying other passengers with my phone jabbering. And, it keeps my texts or email messages private. Also, many ATM’s are now accessible with speech installed on them and headphone jacks, but they do not always come with a set of headphones. Additionally, when my husband and I go to see movies at the theater, we like to take our own headphones rather than use the large bulky ones provided with the descriptive listening devices.
  • Umbrella—this is pretty self explanatory when you walk a lot of the time. I also keep a bigger one in my stroller, but the small ones are great to keep in your bag just in case, especially if you need multiple one’s for you and your children.

In writing this, I also thought of two tips to share with new parents out there who may be trying to figure out what kind of gear to get. I find that having a messenger/cross body bag or backpack style bag is great because it allows me to have my hands free for using a cane and navigating a stroller, carrying a car seat, or holding onto a child. It also minimizes the times the bag will slip off your shoulders when you bend down to pick something up or are walking along (big pet peeve of mine.)  Second, since I pretty much have to carry everything I need with me rather than leaving it in a car, I find having a bigger bag that is lightweight works best. Keep in mind, you have to carry it all and may also be carrying a child on your front or back in a carrier.

So there you have it. I hope that maybe this is slightly interesting to some of you, and helpful to others. I’d love to hear of any staples other blind parents find useful to have on hand when you go out. And again, thanks for reading.