Activities with Children, Dealing with Challenges, Parenting Essentials

The Perils of Apple Picking


Picture: B sitting in his car seat enjoying the world’s biggest apple. He gnawed on it with only four teeth for nearly an hour. .

I love fall! One of my favorite fall must-do’s is to go apple picking. It’s become a family favorite. Shortly after moving to Maryland (pre-marriage and kids), my friend Betsy and I started making it a yearly thing. Now, it’s like a family tradition and it’s so fun to share with my children. We missed last year too on account of the factthat Betsy was in grad school, so we all were especially excited to go this year.

My two older children are six and four, so this was one of the first times that both of them could help with the picking. I usually do it, with a little verbal guidance from Betsy as to where to feel on the tree for an apple, but this year I welcomed the change from picker to pack mule. Upon our arrival at the farm, I realized I had forgotten my Ergo (baby carrier backpack). This was a very big deal as I would need to carry our one-year-old, new walker around. I’ve been carrying my kids this way when we’ve gone apple picking for years. I was so mad at myself for forgetting this! It’s not like we could go home and get it (we drove over an hour up to an orchard on the other side of the border into Delaware), and it wasn’t like there was a Walmart near-by for us to just zip down to either for a temporary replacement one. So, not wanting to ruin our day, I did the next best thing. I couldn’t realistically carry big bags of apples and my twenty pound son, nor could Betsy and the kids carry them all either, so we took the Sit n’ Stroll with us. Just a note, the Sit n’ Stroll is our car seat/stroller combo. The wheels retract into the base while being used as a car seat. It’s worth its weight in gold and one of my favorite baby products as a blind parent. (See my post on this gem) but it’s not really the most road worthy as it’s mostly designed for airport or mall travel. Definitely not farm land.

After a quick perusal of the craft displays and a visit to the port-a-potty, we headed down the road to catch our tractor wagon down to the orchard. You can imagine the sight of me helping the other two kids onto the wagon, passing one of them my cane to hold, and then climbing up myself while hoisting B strapped into his car seat in front of me. But, we made it and soon we were all excitedly picking some of the biggest apples I’ve ever seen and enjoying a little snack along the way.
After a while, we had three large backs (about 50 lbs.) between Betsy and me, and the kids had enjoyed themselves. Thankfully, the car seat had hung in there only getting stuck occasionally. We decided to load the car seat with the bags of apples and that I would carry B back to the wagon. WE thought this would work easier. And then it happened! One of the wheels got stuck in a rut and we were a bit too forceful in trying to free it when it suddenly snapped at the shaft of the wheel. I could have cried! Not only are these car seat stroller combos expensive and hard to repair, but I rely so much on it since I have to transport car seats so often from car to car and place to place. The other frustrating thing is that the same thing happened to our first Sit n’ Stroll which we practically wore out because we used it so often for our first two children. In that case, however, the wheel must have had a crack or something and already been compromised because it snapped off in the same way one night when I was pulling it up our driveway. I was never able to contact customer service to find out how to repair it as all the website contact info was outdated. I ended up finding a used one on Amazon and just purchasing a second one. The thought of having to go through the same process again, or purchasing another one was so disheartening.

Somehow we made it back to the wagon, though it was rough going. I carried B, one large bag of apples and sheparded the other two kids while Betsy manhandled the stroller with the other two bags of apples trying her best to keep it level so we could at least push it with the three wheels on the uneven ground. I’m sure her arms ached the next day. We finally made it back to the wagon and loaded everyone on. When we got back to the drop off in the parking lot, the kids, apples, and I stayed there waiting while Betsy went and got her car and drove it back to pick us up. Did I mention she’s a really, really great friend? Everyone needs a Betsy in their lives.

Picture: K standing with head and hands out from behind a wooden cut out photo prop of stocks with thought bubble that reads: “I shouldn’t have taken the apple off the trees at Milburns!”

By this point, the kids were cranky and so was I. It was time for a late lunch and to head home.
Upon leaving, we stopped off for lunch at Wendy’s where I tried drowning my sorrows in a chocolate frosty before calling Jesse to share the bad news with him. All in all, not my favorite apple picking adventure, but definitely one that will be remembered. Isn’t it funny how the things that go wrong later are the memories we look back on with a smile and fondness? I can’t wait until this feels that way because right now I’m still a little sad over the whole thing. It’s been a few weeks now and I’ve not yet replaced the stroller, but I’m going to have to as there is no way to send it in for repairs—at least to my knowledge. So, that will be dipping into the “Mary Jo shopping spree fund” (as if I really had one.  It’s also made some of our outings a bit more difficult, but I’m getting arms of steel from carrying the car seat when I’d normally pull it, and saving us a little money on rides on nice weather days since I’m more inclined to walk or take public transit so as to avoid having to juggle multiple car seats. So, I guess there are some small perks to be enjoyed. I’ll end on a positive note though and say that we’re still enjoying some delicious apple treats. Hopefully we’ll have better luck next year.

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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.