Activities with Children, Uncategorized

Ballet, Soccer, and Doughnuts (#Hartlesaturdaymornings)

2017-09-16 11.02.14.jpgBallet, Soccer, and Doughnuts (#Hartlesaturdaymornings )

Fall is in full swing around here and I love it! We’ve also found ourselves entering into a different phase of life where our weekends revolve more around kids’ practices, birthday parties, or home projects and trips to Lowes. Ballet started up again and we also entered the world of soccer. You can’t be a true suburbanite without experiencing at least some time on the soccer field. Our soccer experience is still in its early phase, but we enrolled our son into a Soccer Shots clinic this fall. Having kids in multiple activities at the same time and a fuller schedule has presented some blindness related logistical challenges, but we’re working through them. I thought I’d share some of the ways we live our everyday life which is much like most families, with just a few exceptions.

A Saturday morning staple for us is getting Dunkin Doughnuts. I wouldn’t go quite as far to say it’s an addiction, but maybe close. Have you tried one of their pumpkin spice muffins yet? And as a hot chocolate connoisseur, I’d say they’re certainly on the top of the list. Definitely two simple pleasures on a crisp fall morning. One more side note—we were in Philly a few weeks ago and I don’t know what Jesse was more excited about—touching the Liberty Bell or the fact that we passed six DD’s in a one mile radius from our hotel. But I digress…Anyway, usually early on Saturday mornings, Jesse walks to DD which is a little over a half mile from our house (about a 15 min. walk each way) He also gets enough doughnuts to eat some on Sunday morning as this is supposed to help us get out the door to church faster.

 

My job is to get the rest of us ready for the day—tights, leotard, soccer jersey, and shorts—amidst sibling squabbles, missing shoes, and distractions of the one-year-old dropping the tv remote down the toilet. Around 10 a.m. One of us calls a Lyft or Uber and takes K to ballet. (Usually me.) Whomever goes to ballet takes B, the one-year-old since it’s easier to take two car seats into the school rather than down the hill and across a field to soccer practice. Once the car arrives, it takes about five minutes to install car seats and buckle up kids. When we arrive at ballet (a.k.a. K’s elementary school , K (6) is responsible for carrying her booster seat out of the car while I uninstall B’s car seat and take it, and him inside. Most often, drivers usually offer to help with this whole process, but we’ve kind of got it down to a science now and it’s just easier sometimes to do it ourselves. After ballet, we do the whole process again, sometimes substituting a Lyft with a ride home from a ballet friend.

 

Around 10:40, the other parent (usually Jesse) calls another Lyft/Uber and heads to a different elementary school with J.J. (4). Once there, Jesse carries J.J.’s full backed booster down the hill to the grassy area where Soccer shots takes place. He parks the booster next to a tree near the field and then kicks a soccer ball around with J.J. as the kids arrive and warm up. This is always a bit tricky when you’re not using a beeping ball, but they work it out. The first time we went to Soccer Shots, I took J.J. and we got dropped off at the other side of the school where other league soccer games were going on. It was a discovery learning experience for me as I trekked around the school with cane, child, and booster until we found the right field way down in the back on the opposite side. Thankfully there were a lot of parents and I could ask directions, but I’m pretty sure I got some curious looks walking around with my cane and a car seat.

 

A couple of weeks ago, my sister was visiting us and we rented a van for the weekend. It was such a luxury! Not only did we not have to install and uninstall car seats, but we were able to run an pick up DD while my daughter was at ballet, swing by and pick up J.J. and Jesse for soccer, drop them off, and head back to pick up K, and then back to soccer for all of us to watch the last twenty minutes of J.J.’s practice. (This was really fun for K and J.J. because it’s logistically difficult and costly with rides for us to go to his practices after ballet.) Afterward, we stayed and played on the playground at the school as a family just enjoying the beautiful fall morning. My sister does not have kids of her own yet, so I teased her about how she just had a crash course in suburban/family life.

 

So there you have a small glimpse into our Saturdays. I know as our children get older and more interested in other activities, these kinds of logistics will become a bit trickier. For example, juggling getting to different places at different times each week for games, weekly practices, lessons, scouts, etc. We will probably find ourselves incorporating more carpooling or using other drivers too. WE want to make sure our kids don’t miss out on opportunities or things they want to do because our blindness might present some challenge. I’m learning that being creative, flexible, and good at problem solving is the key.

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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.