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Happy Holidays from the Hartles 2019

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Merry Christmas  and happy New Year to all who may be reading this.  I haven’t given this blog much attention this past year because, frankly, it’s been a busy and somewhat personally challenging year for me.  , so as we wrap up 2019, I thought I’d share our family Christmas card and newsletter here to give you a little glimpse into all our fun.  After writing this and stuffing envelopes, I realized that I forgot to mention an important milestone for us this year–our 10th wedding anniversary!WE left our kids overnight for the first time ever–aside from when we were in the hospital having one of them–and stayed at the B&B where we had our wedding reception.  Then we spent the day playing tourist in D.c., something we never do even though we live here.  It was a great weekend and fun to take a little walk down memory lane when all this mess of happiness began.  🙂

IN any case, here are some other highlights and well wishings from us!

Dear family and friends, we hope this holiday season finds you doing well and happy. It’s been a fun but busy season of life for us filled with lots of fond memories, milestones, and new endeavors. This year, we enjoyed trips to New Orleans, Las Vegas, and Utah visiting family and friends. (Yes, I see the humor in this list, especially for a family with young kids.) We have been very blessed as a family.

JESSE

Jesse is still working for the Department of Education with the RS Program in Washington D.C. Last fall, the telework policy was changed and he now only gets one telework day each week, so he spends A LOT of time commuting—two and a half hours each way. But he is such a trooper and never complains. He really enjoys his job. His year has been filled with training new staff, work travel, volunteering as an assist .coach for the kids’ teams, batting practice in the front yard, and planning our next trip to DW. In Feb. we went to Mardi gras and he enjoyed playing tour guide and introducing the kids to the fun of “real parades.” We came home with 50 lbs. of parade “throws” as result–no joke!

K.H.

K. is our spunky, extraverted, and creative little girl who is not so little anymore. Our girl has been busy! The new school year has brought some new challenges for her, including much more homework and responsibility, but she is an amazing student and one of the top in her class. She is learning to play the piano and the recorder, takes ballet, and loves reading, art, and baking. This year she started playing softball and loves playing first base. She also attended a summer SB camp and some pitching clinics. (Daddy is SO excited!) . Her exciting accomplishments this year include singing in the school talent show, and mastering flips and cannon balls in the pool. She also marked a very special milestone in turning 8 and was baptized a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints.   We enjoyed celebrating her and sharing this special event with friends and family.

 

J.H.

J.H. is one of the sweetest little boys ever and has done a great job trying new and hard things this year. This fall he started Kindergarten! He is loving learning to read, write, and getting to ride the school bus. He still loves (is obsessed with) anything related to Frozen, collecting McD’s toys, and drawing. His accomplishments this year include playing tee ball, going on a roller coaster for the first time, and tackling another major fear: the pool! After years of avoiding the pool, or hanging on to the side with a death grip, we convinced (bribed) him to go under water. A week later and he was swimming across the pool underwater, diving in, and doing cannon balls off the side like a pro! It was such an exciting thing to watch. If you know himyou’ll understand why this was such a big deal! We are SUPER proud of him. He’s starting formal swim lessons this next month and we can’t wait to see how this new interest takes off.

 

B.H.

B.H. is our little fireball. He stays busy keeping up with his siblings and though he is only ##, you’d never know it. He loves playing trains, singing, riding his scooter, having play dates, cracking “poop emoji jokes”, and doing “Mommy School.” His accomplishments this year include learning his ABC’s and numbers, graduating from nursery at church, and learning how to use the potty! He keeps us on our toes and he and Mommy have a lot of fun together during the day.

 

MARY JO

Mary Jo received an opportunity to teach as an adjunct professor for a university nearby this past spring. She taught a 400 level CIS course on universal design for blind users. It definitely challenged her as ironically, most of the platforms used by the university are not accessible, or as “user friendly” for adaptive technologies. So, she spent a lot of time finding work arounds for power point presentations and posting assignments and grades to the university’s platforms. It was definitely a lesson in patience and a stretching experience. She is blessed with such an amazing husband who listened (listens) to all her whining, crying, and provided endless amounts of tech support. She’ll be tackling it again this next spring, hopefully a bit more gracefully. She loves spending time with her kids, helping them with homework, volunteering at the elementary school, doing “Mommy School” with B.H., and managing all the day-today everyday life activities. This year she also was called to serve as the 2nd counselor in our church Young Women’s program with the 12/13 year old girls.  This means she helps supervise their Sunday and mid-week youth activities.  IN her “spare time”, she has taken on overseeing some home remodeling projects and still attempts to post on her blog–though very few and far between postings.

 

If you’re still reading, thank you. Please know how much we love and appreciate you for all your love and support. We are truly blessed and so grateful for this beautiful season of life and beautiful time of the year to stop and reflect more deeply on the blessing of our Savior, Jesus Christ. We are so grateful for Him and have truly seen His hand in so many aspects of our everyday lives. May the joy of His gospel bring you much peace, joy, and love in the new year!

Love, The Hartle Family

Happy New Year!h

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Featured in Parents Magazine: What Blind Parents Want Us to See

https://www.parents.com/parenting/dynamics/what-blind-parents-want-us-to-see/

Hartle Family July 2018A few months ago, I received an email through this blog from someone claiming to be the deputy editor of Parents magazine, a popular mainstream publication.  She said the magazine was interested in doing a story on how blind people parent and wanted to know if I would be open to an interview.  .  At first, I brushed it off as a hoax, but my curiosity got the better of me and so I did a little quick search and learned that this woman in fact was legitimate.  A few weeks later, she interviewed me over the phone and via email.  The article was just released in the June edition of Parents magazine.

This was a really unique and exciting opportunity.  While the article is pretty general and only scratches the surface of blind parenting, it is great to have such an opportunity to help educate the general public about our challenges and abilities as blind parents.  Hope you enjoy checking it out!

One last little funny tid-bit… the magazine asked us to submit a couple of different high resolution photos for the photo department to choose from. This was a little tricky as we didn’t have too many recent pics taken with anything other than a phone camera.  The one which was selected of ours happens to have been taken last summer when we were visiting my family in Utah.  We’d had a family reunion and taken a family picture with my parents and my siblings , but Jesse wasn’t there, so my cousin who is an ameture photographer met us outside of a local bookstore on a whim to take a quick photo so we could photo shop Jesse’s head into the family pic.  Surprisingly, the one they chose for us ended up being so cute, that I thought it would be a fun one to send, not to mention it was taken with a professional camera.  We’d just walked from my parent’s house to there too (a little over a mile )in the July desert heat too, so we weren’t exactly “Fresh”.  Right after she took it, Brayden (1 1/2) promptly threw up!

 

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“Gearing” up for Cold Weather Travel

woman man and girl sitting on snow
Photo by Victoria Borodinova on Pexels.com

So for the past few weeks, I’ve been sharing some of our strategies for traveling out of doors in the winter months.  As I mentioned in the last post, one of the challenges with winter travel is keeping track of all the extra gear needed to keep you and your children warm.  I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been searching for a mitten, boot, sock, snow hat, etc. right as we’re getting ready to head out the door or how many times I’ve backtracked my path to locate one of the aforementioned items my child has pulled off during the walk.  I’m happy to report that I have a pretty good track record of locating things–once had a Cinderella moment at Disney World where we lost a sandal and were able to locate it three days later.  , It’s always better not to have to spend the time looking for things if you don’t have to though.  So, since colder weather brings the need for some extra gear, here are a few strategies for keeping track of all that gear along with some suggestions of other useful gear when traveling with your children.

Tips for Keeping track of Cold Weather Clothing

  • Create a “launching station” a.k.a. a designated spot for all the things you need when you go out (i.e., cane, bag, coats, etc.)  in this same area, keep a basket or bin to store extra mittens, boots, hats, scarves–all that little loose stuff you don’t want to float around your house when you’re trying to get out the door.  This way when you’re getting ready to leave, all your items are hopefully in one place so you don’t have to go searching around for them.
  • Train your family members to put all their items here when they come home–a constant process I know, but maybe one day they’ll catch on.

    toddler wearing red shoes standing on snow
    Photo by Nikita Khandelwal on Pexels.com
  • Safety pin snow hats/beanies to the back of your child’s coat or the hood of the coat so that they don’t get lost if your child pulls them off
  • Mittens on strings are a life saver! Definitely look for these. Not only does it keep gloves with the child’s coat if your child pulls his gloves off, but you won’t have to waste time looking for gloves before going out. Then, leave the mittens strung inside the coat when you put the coat away.  You could also safety pin mittens to the cuff of your child’s coat sleeve, in a pinch, but this is a bit more awkward for your child and the pins tend to pop off if your child pulls too hard . You can also try these cute mitten clips which come in a variety of colors and patterns.
  • Purchase a package of several pairs of mittens for your children.  Keep a pair with each coat/jacket for your child, and a pair in each of your outdoor coats (just in case.” This way you will have extras for those inevitable occasions.
  • Keep a pair of gloves/mittons for yourself in each of your coats/jackets. This way, you’ll always be prepared and don’t have to worry about remembering to switch out your gloves if you use different coats (i.e., dress coat, everyday coat, etc.)

Continue reading ““Gearing” up for Cold Weather Travel”

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Baby, It’s Cold Outside!

Well, it’s still cold and we’re definitely in the thick of winter around here.  Not my favorite time of year, but trying to enjoy some of the more fun elements.  2013-12-07 22.32.47As promised, here are some more ideas of things that help us as blind parents when traveling out of doors in the winter months.  two of the most challenging things I find are first, keeping me and my children warm for long periods of time, and second, carrying and keeping track of all the extra gear.  This week I’m sharing some of my tried and true practices for you and your children to stay warm in cold weather.  Here goes!

Tips for Babywearing in Winter

  • Use a baby wearing device as much as possible when you are out using public transportation or running local errands. This will help keep your child warm and you won’t have to worry about dragging a stroller through plowed up snow on walkways or along icy sidewalks (See my recommendations here).  It also allows you to use a large umbrella if needed, to cover both you and your child.
  • When wearing your baby on your front(facing in or out), wrap a medium weight  blanket (something that you can easily tuck back into a bag when indoors or carry on your person) around the child and tuck the blanket into the straps on either side of you and also tuck the bottom of the blanket in around your child’s feet. Presumably, Your child will also be bundled up in warm clothing, but the extra blanket will help add an extra layer of warmth and trap your body heat in with the baby, and it can also shield your baby from the wind as you can pull it up around his face.
  • If your coat is big enough, you can put the baby on first and then zip your coat up around the baby.
  • For children who are a little older and can ride on your back, make sure they are wearing longer socks as the backpack can sometimes make their pants ride up as it pulls between their legs, exposing their ankles or legs.  Using leg warmers for girls which can be pulled over socks and leggings, or even over the heel of a shoe and up onto the leg also work great.
  • Use beanies/skull caps/snow caps to keep your child’s head warm. Hoods on coats are also great, but often the hoods will slide off when your child turns his/her head or leans backward. I suggest putting on some kind of snow cap and then pulling the hood over the top. The hood will keep cold air from hitting your child on the back of the neck or blowing down her coat.

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Cold Weather Clothing Advice

  • Fingerless gloves with a mitten cover are great because they allow you the ease of using your fingers without having to remove your glove. This is helpful if you’re trying to use a braille notetaking device for directions, your phone, clean up after a guide dog, etc. so that you can feel what you are doing but still keep your hands warm. You can then cover your fingers with the mitten top to keep them warm after you’re done.
  • Snowcaps or beanies are really helpful as they keep your head warm, thus keeping your body from losing a lot of heat, but still allow you to hear, unlike a hood that can block your ears or deflect sound.
  • Mittens are great with little ones because you don’t have to mess with lining up all of your child’s fingers.  It saves time and sanity.  I also really suggest using mittens that are attached by a string–so much easier to keep track of them.
  • Give yourself or your child permission to be mismatched. Don’t worry about using mismatched gloves. If you lose a glove, don’t worry about putting it on with another one from another pair. I used to worry about people judging if my children weren’t matching in some way—blaming it on the fact that I was blind—but truthfully, if it’s cold, you just want gloves on you and/or your child.
  • Keep an extra pair of socks for you and your child in your bag. Sometimes plowing through snowbanks or puddles can result in wet feet or pant legs, and a pair of warm, dry socks can help warm you up, especially if you are going to be at a place for a while before returning home—just in case your boots aren’t as waterproof as they seem.
  • Depending on the type of outing you are taking, and the duration of it, Consider bringing an extra pair of slip-on shoes (i.e., canvas sneakers or ballet flats which will fit easier in your bag) to change into at your destination so that you can slip off your wet boots and warm up your feet. You can easily step into a restroom and change out your shoes and slip off any extra layers so that you aren’t too bulky or hot inside a building.
  • Layer up. It’s easier to take off layers if you’re too warm than it is to get warm if you are out and about. Light layers also work well because you can put several on and be warm (e.g., t-shirt, long sleeve pullover, lightweight hoodie and a pullover sweater, etc.)  but not feel as bulky as you might with thermal underwear or heavy sweaters, especially if you are wearing your child in some form (it’s harder to get a pack or wrap on and off if you are really bulky with a coat and several thick layers.
  • Consider fleece lined tights or leggings (for women) or men’s light-weight Under Armor style or jersey thermal pants under your clothing–not as bulky as traditional thermal under ware but still warm and bearable when you are indoors.

    person wearing gold patent leather snow boots
    Photo by Godisable Jacob on Pexels.com
  • Invest in a good pair of winter boots and rain boots with insulation and good traction.
  • Use bell bracelets on your child’s boots. Often boots do not have loops on the back or laces where you can easily attach a bell. A bracelet will fit over the boots and still work as well in helping you for locating your child. I used women’s bell bracelets on my daughter and they worked great and were really cute.  (We had a lot of friends want them for their daughters.)  I suggest a bracelet on each foot to make sure they are loud enough.  Here is an example for a girl.  If you feel a little strange about your son wearing a bracelet. You can use something plainer like this, or even make your own using some kind of hemp cord, yarn, or even pipe cleaners, and craft bells.

Well, there you go.  Hope some of these suggestions are helpful to you.  Let me know what other tips you’ve found to help you stay warm for long periods of time outdoors.

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The Scoop (or should I say shovel…) on Winter Travel

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Photo Caption: Hartle kids bundeled up in winter gear with Mom’s cane waiting

behind them at the door.

 

Winter is finally upon us. Well, the holidays are over and while I contemplated writing this on Dec. 21, it just didn’t seem right to spoil the holidays with talk of cold, dreary days ahead. Thankfully, our winter season where we live hasn’t been too bad thus far, but we’re about to get slammed with several rough weeks. In fact, as I write this, we are anticipating our first real snow storm of the season. Last night my children participated in several snow making rituals—throwing ice out the front door, flushing ice down the toilet, sleeping with a spoon under their pillow, and wearin

g their pajamas backwards and inside out to ensure a successful snow fall. (Not exactly sure where all these strange customs come from except to say they learned it at school.) In any case, while there are a lot of fun things about winter, and the thought of snuggling up in doors with a good book or movie and some hot coco is great for a day or two, the reality is that winter can be a bit rough when you don’t drive and still have everyday life tasks to carry out amidst cold temps, uncovered sidewalks, and slushy puddles. Sure, I could hibernate in my house all season, but that’s not really practical, nor would my children or I enjoy it. So, over the years I’ve learned a few things for navigating in cold weather with children. I talk about this in more detail in an upcoming episode of Everyday Blind Parents, so check it out for more ideas. But for the next few weeks, I’m going to be posting some of my suggestions for traveling around in winter.

 

Sure, it would be nice just to take a ride everywhere, and if you have that luxury, great. But if you don’t and still want to maintain some independence in getting where you want, when you want, and without inconvenience to your spouse, family member, friend, or neighbor, or without having to work around or wait on someone else’s schedule, you’ll still need to use public transportation, and ride services in the winter. It would be great just to take Lyft or Uber everywhere too, but not every budget will allow for that, so here are some ideas:

  • Be creative with ride use. Use rides when you can, but think about saving your “ride chips” up for extreme weather days and supplement this with public transit on less rough or cold days.
  • Exchange favors like babysitting, making dinner, buying lunch, or errand-running for a friend or neighbor for rides to/from places.
  • Team up with a friend to run your errands at the same time he/she is going
  • Subscribe to online delivery services (if you haven’t yet done so). See a list of other helpful online services here.)
  • Carpool-If you take your children to school/extra curriculars via public transit or by walking, email the parents of your child’s classmates and ask if another parent would be willing to pick up your child for a few weeks while the weather is rough.
  • Adjust your budget to allow for more use of services like Lyft and Uber (e.g., have a ride share freeze time in the spring and fall so that you can save up for more extreme weather conditions, or cut out weekly trips to Star bucks or fast food places)in order to allow for a bit more discretionary income.2013-12-07 22.29.35
  • Don’t forget that public transportation is still a viable option, but be prepared with the right gear to keep you warm and allow you to travel with your children to/from your destination.

 

Photo Caption:  J and K trying to walk down the driveway in a foot of snow

 

  • Make use of transit aps (like the “Next Bus App”) that show real time wait times  and that allow you to purchase tickets through them. This will minimize how long you have to wait outdoors if you can see when the bus is coming, and don’t have to stop to purchase a ticket (i.e., you can wait inside a local business near the bus stop, stay at work a little longer, or leave your house a little later if you know the arrival times in real time.
  • Teach your children not to put their feet on the seats of cars (i.e. uber and lyft vehicles) and train them not to drag their boosters on the sidewalk or driveway in rainy and snowy conditions. (As my children have gotten older, they’ve learned to carry their own seat.) This will help you avoid muddy footprints and extra expensive cleaning fees on your fare. Trust me! My kids have become pros at knowing not to drag their booster seats down a sidewalk or driveway when it’s rainy or snowy.
  • Carry a plastic trash bag to set your car seat onto if you need to set it on the ground thus avoiding getting the car seat wet or muddy prior to installing it in a vehicle, or don’t be afraid to ask the driver to hold it or place it in another part of the vehicle until you’re ready to install it.

 

Hope these ideas are helpful. Let me know what other transportation tips you’ve found helpful in the winter months. More to come !

person wearing brown boots and blue denim jeans standing on snow
Photo by freestocks.org on Pexels.com

 

 

 

 

 

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Some Assembly Required

black claw hammer on brown wooden plank
Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

 

 

 

 

The holidays are in full swing around here and tis the season of gifting. Chances are high that something you will get or give will require some assembling. Even more than “Batteries not included,” the words “some assembly required can bring feelings of angst and anxiety to any parent trying to create some Christmas magic for their little ones. . Many are the years my husband and I have found ourselves sitting up well past Midnight in the early hours of Christmas morning playing Santa’s elves and piecing parts together like a jigsaw puzzle in an attempt to fulfill someone’s Christmas wishes. In fact, I’ve been known not to purchase a particular toy just because of this fact. Having lots of pieces floating around to keep track of and no idea how to put them together makes me really anxious, especially the longer said item is unassembled. Thankfully, my husband is much more patient than I, and pretty mechanically inclined. Over the years, we’ve tackled the assembly of quite a number of things on our own. It usually means my husband looking at an assortment of parts while I unsuccessfully try to look at diagrams with a magnifier and describe it to him as he uses his mechanical skills to try and figure out how things fit together. By the way, I highly recommend putting stuff together with your spouse. It’s great marriage therapy. You have to work together to solve a problem and try to do so without yelling even though you will yell and get frustrated with each other. When you’re finished, you’ll feel so empowered and bonded together over the bookshelf, Barbie house, elyptical machine, or air hockey table you just built together.

woman doing gift wrapping
Photo by freestocks.org on Pexels.com

 

 

Searching for instructions online or Youtube video tutorials can also be helpful in finding instructions in an accessible format. But, if you’re not so inclined to tackle assembly on your own, I suggest hiring someone to do it for you. Not only will it actually get done, but it will hopefully be done well and in a timely manner. We’ve hired friends and neighbors before to come and help us assemble play sets and small projects. The cost is worth it for our time and sanity. For example, last year after Christmas, we hired our neighbor’s two teenage boys to help us put some toys together after several unsuccessful attempts on our part. We paid them each about $10, and after about an hour, and some neighborhood bonding, things were ready to go. It was a win-win. Posting to a neighborhood group or church bulletin are also really good resources and can help you avoid any awkwardness of asking someone directly.

repairman doing screw drilling
Photo by rawpixel.com on Pexels.com

 

 

Amazon also has a great assembly service. When you purchase something that needs assembling (furniture, exercise equipment, etc.), you can pay a fee to have someone come and do it for you. It can be a little pricy, but paying someone $50-100 to come and assemble something can be worth it depending on the complexity of the item, and save your sanity. Sometimes they will also offer discounts on assembly fees, so keep an eye out for those. We ordered a set of bunkbeds with built-in drawers once and paid an $80 fee to have them assembled. It took the technician about six hours, so this was totally worth it as this was too big of a project for us to tackle on our own.

 

For other big jobs, hiring a local handyman is also a great resource. The fees will probably be higher, but it may be worth it for your time and sanity. Lastly, I recently heard of an app called Takel for “tackling” projects. I have yet to check it out, but it may be a great source for things like this too.

So, if the words “some assembly required” are in your near future, I hope this post is helpful and brings you a little peace. Happy holidays and May the true peace of the season be with you and yours.

 

“Some assembly required”:

 

The holidays are in full swing around here and tis the season of gifting. Chances are high that something you will get or give will require some assembling. Even more than “Batteries not included,” the words “some assembly required can bring feelings of angst and anxiety to any parent trying to create some Christmas magic for their little ones. . Many are the years my husband and I have found ourselves sitting up well past Midnight in the early hours of Christmas morning playing Santa’s elves and piecing parts together like a jigsaw puzzle in an attempt to fulfill someone’s Christmas wishes. In fact, I’ve been known not to purchase a particular toy just because of this fact. Having lots of pieces floating around to keep track of and no idea how to put them together makes me really anxious, especially the longer said item is unassembled. Thankfully, my husband is much more patient than I, and pretty mechanically inclined. Over the years, we’ve tackled the assembly of quite a number of things on our own. It usually means my husband looking at an assortment of parts while I unsuccessfully try to look at diagrams with a magnifier and describe it to him as he uses his mechanical skills to try and figure out how things fit together. By the way, I highly recommend putting stuff together with your spouse. It’s great marriage therapy. You have to work together to solve a problem and try to do so without yelling even though you will yell and get frustrated with each other. When you’re finished, you’ll feel so empowered and bonded together over the bookshelf, Barbie house, elyptical machine, or air hockey table you just built together.

Searching for instructions online or Youtube video tutorials can also be helpful in finding instructions in an accessible format. But, if you’re not so inclined to tackle assembly on your own, I suggest hiring someone to do it for you. Not only will it actually get done, but it will hopefully be done well and in a timely manner. We’ve hired friends and neighbors before to come and help us assemble play sets and small projects. The cost is worth it for our time and sanity. For example, last year after Christmas, we hired our neighbor’s two teenage boys to help us put some toys together after several unsuccessful attempts on our part. We paid them each about $10, and after about an hour, and some neighborhood bonding, things were ready to go. It was a win-win. Posting to a neighborhood group or church bulletin are also really good resources and can help you avoid any awkwardness of asking someone directly.

Photo by rawpixel.com on Pexels.com

 

 

Photo by freestocks.org on Pexels.com

Amazon also has a great assembly service. When you purchase something that needs assembling (furniture, exercise equipment, etc.), you can pay a fee to have someone come and do it for you. It can be a little pricy, but paying someone $50-100 to come and assemble something can be worth it depending on the complexity of the item, and save your sanity. Sometimes they will also offer discounts on assembly fees, so keep an eye out for those. We ordered a set of bunkbeds with built-in drawers once and paid an $80 fee to have them assembled. It took the technician about six hours, so this was totally worth it as this was too big of a project for us to tackle on our own.

 

For other big jobs, hiring a local handyman is also a great resource. The fees will probably be higher, but it may be worth it for your time and sanity. Lastly, I recently heard of an app called Takel for “tackling” projects. I have yet to check it out, but it may be a great source for things like this too.

So, if the words “some assembly required” are in your near future, I hope this post is helpful and brings you a little peace. Happy holidays and May the true peace of the season be with you and yours.

 

 

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Merry Christmas to All and to All a Good Hack!

IMG_0011The holidays are in full swing around here. It’s been a busy season, but a lot of fun. As I write this, I’m enjoying the sounds of Christmas music playing in the background and my children chattering as they make cookies without supervision. Throughout the season as I’ve been working on some of our family Christmas preparations, I’ve realized some of the things we do alternatively because of our blindness and I thought I’d share some of our strategies for tackling a few common challenges with Christmas tasks.

Gift Wrapping:

I personally love wrapping gifts, but my husband does not. He never learned how, and while this is a pretty hands on task, I think a lot of blind people are not taught to wrap presents. (I admit I’m making this really broad assumption from blind people I’ve worked with over the years.) If you’re in this camp, here are a few tips:

  • Ask a trusted friend or family member to teach you. It’s a fun skill!
  • Use gift wrapping services at the store.
  • Check the “gift wrapping” option on Amazon.
  • Pay a neighbor—the teens from our church were offering gift wrapping services as a service project, and a lot of youth need service hours for school, or are just looimagejpeg_1king for ways to earn money.

 

Gift Identification:

Also with gifts, since both my husband and I are blind, we have to find ways of identifying the gifts once they are wrapped since we can’t read print gift tags on them and we don’t have Santa make braille ones for us, even though we read braille. I suppose we could request this of him, and express to our children how great it is that Santa accommodates for us, but we just haven’t done that. It would be really easy to braille on an index card the name to whom the gift belongs and tape it to the package. Instead, we group the gifts together as we wrap them by child and then I write one big sign or print out a sign with the child’s name on it and place it near their pile. (WE don’t place gifts under the tree prior to Christmas as we have young children and the gifts wouldn’t last.) Using different textured wrapping paper for different children is also helpful, or using different colored paper. (if you can distinguish between the prints). On Christmas morning, we open our gifts one at a time as a family, and I or my husband passes out the gifts we want to be opened for each round, taking one from each child’s pile. Since we’ve wrapped it, we usually can tell what the gift is once we pick it up by the size or shape of the package.

Photo Dec 06, 6 35 03 PM

Holiday Photo Ops:

From visits with Santa, participating in fun winter activities, or taking pictures of friends and family at gatherings, holiday photo ops are abundant. Sometimes as blind people, we don’t often think of taking photos because we can’t see them, but I highly encourage you to still take photos. It’s a great way to document your life and your family’s experiences. While you may not find much use for them, your children will enjoy them and appreciate them, especially when they are older. The iPhone camera gives pretty good feedback to aid you in making sure your pictures are aligned properly if you want to take them yourself. Even if you feel a little self-conscious, something is better than nothing. Remember the adage, “Done is better than perfect.” But the best thing to do is to hand your camera over to a friend, relative, or passer-by to capture those special moments. Alternatively, you could try using a video calling service with family members during times like gift opening or special holiday programs and have them take pictures and send them to you, labeled as to what it is of course.   Even an older child can take pretty good pics or videos with a little practice and instruction, so try this out as well during your family time. As our children have gotten a little older I’ve let them take photos and videos for us. (Be sure to remind them when videoing to watch the person/event through the screen or else you end up with a great view of the ground during your son’s first t-ball game.) My seven-year-old does a pretty good job at both now. I recently let her video my son’s preschool pageant and she did a great job capturing him singing. Your kids will thank you one day.

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Well there you have it—a little glimpse into our home during the holidays.   I wish you all a very Merry Christmas. WE feel so blessed and have enjoyed a great year. I hope this season finds you and yours well and that the peace of the Savior may fill your hearts and homes. Happy new year too!