Morning Routine

I am not a morning person, I have never been a morning person. In fact there was many days where I started my day with profanity, just dragging my sorry butt out of bed was horrible.

I have always envied those that were able to get out of bed and enjoy their mornings, who were happy and could speak with people within the first 2 hours of getting up with out bitting their head off.

Now that we have moved and I am in the same city that I work in, I my friends have become a morning person ! I know; if you know me personally you are thinking “pigs have started flying, the rainbows have aligned, and unicorns are landing in your back yard.” But, I am telling you it is true.

1E16BBC3-6E2E-4D7A-870C-47F1620482DB An early morning selfie !

So I thought I would take some time to share my morning routine with you not only to prove that this is true but because I think sharing these mundane parts of my life show, that living life as someone who is blind is no different than someone who is sighted.

My routine starts the night before, with having the boys help me make their lunch. And going up to bed by 9pm, where I listen to a book for about half an hour. I am usually turning the book off and nodding off to sleep at about 9:30 p.m.

My night before is critical to this new morning routine working. Without a good nighttime routine and getting to bed at a decent hour I will be dragging my sorry butt the next day for sure. One would think I would have had this figured out before the age of 33 but sometimes I am a slow learner.

I set my alarm for 4:25 a.m. I usually get out of bed by 4:30 a.m. first stop is the shower. I like to shower in the morning first because it wakes me up and second because I have short hair so it needs to be washed everyday. After a quick shower it is hair, makeup and getting dressed.

Once I get dressed I go to my side of the bed and grab my Apple Watch and my phone and Rick knows that is the get up sign for him. He jumps out of his bed and bounces around, I tell him every morning “shhhh” so he does not wake the whole house. That would ruin my purpose of getting up so early.

I go downstairs and feed Rick my Guide Dog and let him outside to do his business. Then the boys lunches they made the night before go from the fridge to their bags along with anything else I need to put in. I don’t make my daughters lunch she is 14 she is more than capable of making her lunch and deciding what she wants to eat.

Then I take my medication make myself a coffee and sit on the couch and listen to my book and write in my journal. I am usually sitting on the couch by about 5:10 a.m. The next 50 minutes are mine all mine.

2D0EFA16-5E99-4B12-84F7-AA8CD11923B1 A photo of my journal and my coffee with Rick sleeping on his bed. He is not a morning doggy.

After the first time when I got out of bed early and was ready and had this time to myself I was hooked. It is the one time of the day that the house is silent (except for Rick chewing his bone) and there is no one that is needing me or asking me something. That I can sit and take some time for me and not feel guilty. And it is ohhhhh so GLORIOUS ! In this time I do not check emails or do anything work related, I have to be very intentional about this part because I am kind of a workaholic and I know this so I am working on that.

Having this time to myself in the morning makes my whole day just go so much better, I find I am happier and start my day off the right way. This makes me love this time and inadvertently I have become a morning person.

At 6:00 a.m. I go upstairs and wake up my daughter and get her out of bed, she is not a morning person ! Then it is time to make coffee and get ready to leave the house. Off to the bus at 6:20 a.m. some days I am lucky and my husband drives me to the bus stop as he goes right by it and leaves at the same time or I walk the 10 minutes to the bus and begin my commute to work. The commute now takes me about 40 minutes from the time I leave the house. It is a nice commute I take 2 buses to get to work and just enjoy sitting listening to my book or a podcast.

4D6CCCA7-7BC8-428D-BC6D-D26D022E37BE An early morning photo at the bus stop of me and Rick. I am kneeled down next to Rick wearing a winter coat and pink and grey scarf.

7:00 a.m. if my transfer works out and times are all good I am at work. I then have 30 minutes to get everything ready to start the work day and I also take this time to study. I am currently taking a management course so it works out well to have this time in the morning while the office is quiet to get some studying in.

8E7B5330-FFF5-4874-BB9E-ADE7E7B5FDFB Photo of my iPad, computer and coffee while I study.

It is hard to believe even as I write this that I am a morning person now and actually enjoy my mornings. I also realize how mundane and boring this may seem but it is a good way to show people that my days are no different than yours even though I live with a disability my life is just as mundane and boring  as the next person.

Until Next Time !

Ashley and Rick

 

Don’t be ashamed…….

Hello Everyone, 

As I get ready to do some travelling for work, and go to some training I am reminded of my anxiety and worries as they sneak up on my again. I am a very independent person and I pride myself in being able to live a life that I want to live without letting my disability or people’s perception of capability dictate how I live my life. There are times though when we have to face anxiety, fear, worry and all the ugly. 

When I have to go somewhere new a lot of the ugly shows up for me. I am someone who needs to know all the details, everything from the set up of the venue, the layout of the course, if there is a buffet for meals. The more information I have the better I feel. Now that is not always possible and realistic. So that is when I find myself dealing with anxiety, I worry about all the logistical things like, is there going to be someone to assist me with orientation to the new space, will I have assistance with the buffet (buffets are a blind persons worst nightmare), will I seem like I am incapable if I need to ask for help, will I have access to all the materials being used. There are so many things that people who are not blind or partially sighted don’t think about that we have to and the biggest anxiety for me is making a good impression. What I mean by this is when you are at an event you want to meet new people and network, make a good impression. I find it really hard to network in a large group when I am alone because I can not tell where people are, it makes it hard to approach someone and strike up a conversation. I have been in situations where I am left standing there and probably looking a little pathetic because I can not figure out where people are and if they are alone or who they are or any of these things. Then there is the issue of people thinking I am being rude because I am not looking them in the eye when I am not I just can’t see. 

I have anxiety about these things but it does not stop me from doing the things I want to do. It makes me a stronger person on the other end, I used to be embarrassed to talk about it and I felt so alone when I had anxieties like this. Now I know that I am not alone and if I talk about it, it makes it better because I hear myself and can realize I am going to be fine. My friends are also a great support to reassure me that I will be fine it will all work out and that I am more than capable. 

We all doubt ourselves and have anxiety around different things. People who don’t have a disability struggle with anxiety and worry. It is not something to be embarrassed about it is something to own and know that the more you deal with it, the stronger it will make you. The only thing having the ugly show up every once in a while says, is that you are human.

Until Next Time, 

Ashley and Rick  

How A Blind Mom Cleans

Hello Everyone,

I hope you are all doing well.

I get many questions around whether I clean my house or if I have a cleaning person or does my husband do it. The answer is I wish I had a cleaning person but unfortunately, it is me who does the majority of the cleaning. I do have a husband who helps out and three kids who have chores (I know I am a horrible mom) but the bulk of it falls to me.

The main thing that people don’t think that I do is clean the bathroom so today we are going to discuss how I am able to do this. First of all, I know the set up of the bathroom so I am able to locate the loo very easily same with the bathtub and sink.

I have a caddy that has all my cleaning supplies in it, I carry that to the bathroom and then start the process. I really hate cleaning the bathrooms just thought I would throw that out there. I usually start with the mirrors and I touch them and then spray the cleaning on the mirror. I am sure I leave streaks behind every once in a while but I am not using them so that is ok they look clear to me.

 

In the pictures above you can see my caddy as well as how I tell apart the two bottles that feel identical. One is Windex and one is Multi-purpose cleaner, I have two bump on dots on the multi-purpose and one bump on dot on the Windex. This really helps to make sure that I am using the cleaner that I want. The other bottles have a shape or defining feature that I have memorized so I am able to tell which one is which.

Next is the sink and counter, I spray the sink and counter surface with cleaner and then I wipe it down systematically. I start at the one side and work my way down and over the counter in small sections so that I get the whole thing.  I do it almost like a search and rescue crew would search for someone who is missing it is very methodical.

Next is the toilet and I do the same as the sink I just spray down the part of the toilet that I want to start with and work my way around the toilet. Toilets are nasty, I wear gloves to do the toilet because I am blind so I do use my hands to check if I missed any cleaner or if I can feel anything. The bathtub and shower are done the same way.

I try to clean the bathrooms more often so that if I did miss something hopefully I will get it next time. It is possible to do all the cleaning in the house if you do it systematically.

I know it may seem impossible to some that a person who is blind cleans and does all of these “normal” tasks but when blindness is your reality it really isn’t that out there; it needs to be done and we do it. The way we do it is probably different but we definitely do it. In fact, my husband will tell you even though I can not see the world around me, I am a clean freak, it drives him and the kids nuts. If it is out of place I will find it, it must be my super power!

Until Next Time,

Ashley and Rick

What Defines Independence?

What makes you independent?

Are you independent if you can do everything on your own and not need any help? Are you less independent if you need to ask for help? What if we looked at independence in another way, what if we were more independent if we were confident enough to know when to ask for help.

There is this presumption that people with disabilities are not as independent as able-bodied people because there are aspects of our lives and days that we need to ask for assistance.

I truly believe that I am more independent because I am confident enough to ask for help. I will give you an example. In order for me to cook meals for my family, I need to be able to go and get groceries. So let me walk you through how this works ad show you that me asking for help makes me more independent than if I was to not ask.

I make my list at home, print it out and head to the store. When I reach the store with my guide dog I then find a counter and ask if there is someone that is able to help me get the items on my list. I will hand them the list and follow them around the store picking up my items. I then pay for the items and head home. After getting home I am able to make meals for my family.

If I did not ask for help I would have to wait for my husband to be able to take me to the store and help me pick out the items that I need. So, me knowing that I need help at the store makes me more independent and able to be like any other parent out there, going to the store and getting groceries to make supper.

Learning to ask for help when you need it does not make you weaker it makes you stronger. It also makes you the most independent version of you! So please never be ashamed or feel less than because you need help with something.

Until Next Time!

Ashley and Rick

Blind Caramel Corn

Baking is something that I have grown up loving to do. My parents owned a bakery for 26 years as I was growing up, so I grew up in a bakery really. I spent many hours there beside my dad and my mom baking and decorating and packaging. I loved to bake I helped my dad with everything from bread, buns, cakes, cookies, pies and donuts it was definitely something that I hold dear to my heart today.

My dad sadly passed from cancer 5 years ago, to this day when I bake it brings back such amazing memories of spending hours and hours with my dad baking up a storm. This is something that I really want to have with my kids as well. My children love to bake with me and we have so much fun doing it.

Being blind some people think that baking is not something that I would be able to do, but I learned to bake with low vision which meant I learned to do it with my hands and not my eyes. So even though I am totally blind today I am still able to enjoy it just as much as before.

Around the holidays I have many recipes that my children and I love to make. We love baking cookies, squares and especially love making many batches of caramel corn. So what a great way to share my love of baking with you then to share our quick and easy caramel corn recipe. It is always a hit around the holidays or any other time you whip up a batch.

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Carmel Corn Recipe
1 cup margarine
1 cup brown sugar (packed)
1 cup white sugar
1/2 cup corn syrup (I use about 3/4 cup)
Pinch of cream of tartar
1 tsp baking soda
20 cups popcorn

-Pre Heat oven to 200c
-In a saucepan combine margarine, brown sugar, white sugar, corn syrup, and cream of tartar. Make sure the saucepan has some room as this will foam up and almost double.
-Bring to a boil while constantly stirring, once boiling let boil for 2 minutes.
-Remove from heat and stir in baking soda it will foam up a little.
-Pour over popcorn in a large roaster and stir until all the popcorn is coated.
-Bake for 1 hour stirring every 15 minutes. Put onto cookie sheets once you remove it from the oven to cool. Enjoy !

I hope you enjoy making this easy recipe and enjoy making memories that will last a lifetime!

Until Next Time!
Ashley and Rick

Three Rules To Remember About Service Dogs…

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Rule One : IGNORE

So many times people will approach a service dog team and want to say hello to the dog. Or interact with the dog by talking to them and saying things about how good they are or how cute. The problem with this is that you are getting the dogs attention and when you have the dog’s attention they are not paying attention to the handler thus putting the handler in a dangerous situation. Simply ignore the dog if you think the dog is cute or doing a good job, by all means, make that comment to the handler. We love to get compliments about our dogs they are like our children we are proud mamas and papas.

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Rule Two: IGNORE

Petting a service animal is not ok ever. Even if my guide dog is laying under a table, if we are in public he is working. Never come up and just start petting them. Also saying things like, “I know I shouldn’t pet them, but he is just too darn cute.” does not make it okay, in fact, that is worse. If you absolutely can not walk by and feel the desire to pet them ask the handler first. Remembering that there is a person on the other end of the leash is key. Treat the person on the other end of the leash with the respect you would want to be treated with when you are in public.

Put yourself in my shoes for a moment; It is the end of a busy day and I need to grab a couple of things from the store, I run into the store and get stopped at least five times. People are stopping me because they are curious about my dog or they want to tell me about the lab they used to have as a kid, or even about a blind person they knew back in the day. I am glad that we can connect however I am in a rush to get home to my kids and make supper, I am exhausted and before coming into the store I have been stopped by prob 10 people before you today. It is exhausting sometimes we just want to run into the store and get some milk and leave, just like you. Could you imagine if you were stopped 10-15 times a day just for someone to make a random comment (not always nice) on the way you are traveling or about how cute your shoes are and could they touch them.

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Rule Three: IGNORE

Making comments or suggesting that we are treating our dogs poorly because we are out in the winter, or rain, or just working a dog, in general, is not ok. guide dogs and other service dogs are treated better than you could ever imagine. They are spoiled rotten, given more love, attention, and affection than you could ever imagine. They love to work and love being with their handler.

If you ever come across a guide dog or service dog know that they are treated like a king or queen and that we are more than grateful for what they do for us. Living with a disability is a challenge but being able to have the assistance of a dog makes all the difference in independence and freedom for those that choose to have a service dog.

Life with a service dog can be complicated when people do not ignore the dogs. When you see me and my Guide Dog act as if I am using a white cane. You would never pet, make kissy noises, stop me to talk about my white cane so if you act as if I was using a white cane, service dog handlers will be forever grateful.

I hope that these 3 simple rules make it easy for people to remember to respect and interact appropriately with service dogs of all types.

Blind Christmas Joy

Hello Everyone, I hope you are all doing well.

December is here and so Christmas is just around the corner. I love Christmas and everything that goes along with Christmas. All the memories that are made, time spent with friends and family, the decorations and sights and sounds everything.

I have been asked before if I decorate for Christmas since I can not see it, the answer is YES ! I do not think that you need to be able to see decorations to appreciate them.

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I may go about buying my decorations differently for sure but I sure love walking the Christmas isles in the stores and looking at all the decorations. I feel them all and I buy my decorations based on the way that they feel. I like to have lots of different textures, I do not buy a lot of lights and things like that as I do not see them however my kids love them so we do have some. My children also love Christmas and when we are looking at the decorations they always say things like “oh mom feel this one I think you will like it” then they will proceed to describe it to me. This is one of the best things about the holidays, having the descriptions of things going on around us from my children as they have grown is something I cherish and look forward to every year.

Having a blind mother has definitely made our holiday celebrations different but we take part in all the activities and my children are always describing the decorations on people homes, the lights on the poles around town, people Christmas trees. This is a memory that I will forever have with me. One of my other favorite things about the holidays is the smells and sounds, the smells of baking and trees and nutmeg, cinnamon, they all bring me a lot of joy. I love the sounds of the shopping malls during the holidays, with the music, the bells from Santa greeting children, the hustle, and bustle, the sound of joy in the voices of the children.

There are so many ways to experience the world around us, vision is only one way. Happy Holidays to all my readers and I hope you have a wonderful Holiday Season !

Until Next Time
Ashley and Rick

Blindness the least of my struggles

Hello, Everyone !

I hope you are all doing well.

I was talking to someone recently and mentioned that I see a counsellor and they responded with ” I would too if I was blind”. I was surprised by this answer. Then the more I thought about it, I am sure that there are many many people out there who assume that I would need to see a counsellor because of living with blindness or any disability.

I talked with my husband after and kind of laughed a little because to be completely honest I do NOT see a counsellor because I am blind and or have a disability. I do NOT talk to my counsellor about being blind. I know that some people can not fathom that that would not be my biggest problem. For me my blindness is not an issue, I am happy with my life as a blind person. I am comfortable with my blindness and since I do not let my blindness determine how I live my life it really doesn’t cause me any problems. I have issues with other people misperceptions of blindness and my abilities but I have lived with that my whole life and enjoy proving people wrong.

I am so much more than a blind person and I have lived a lot in my life and see a counsellor  because I am a mother to 3 children. My 13-year-old daughter also has ADHD. Being a parent can be a challenge especially to teenagers and when you have a child with ADHD it can really make things difficult. I also lost my father to cancer almost 5 years ago, I was very close with my dad in the years before he passed but we also had many issues that we never got a chance to deal with. There are so many other things in my life that I have had to work through. And even though I am blind, that is not one of those things.

If I could give any advice on this topic, it would be; don’t assume that someone’s disability is their biggest struggle. The person with a disability lives their life every day just like you do and they have things happen that have absolutely nothing to do with their disability . Just because our reality is different than yours that does not mean that our disability consumes our lives to the point where we don’t live them.

Thank you for reading ! Have a fabulous day !

Until Next Time !

Ashley and Rick

Apple Accessibility

Hello Everyone,

I hope you are all doing well.

I recently got an apple watch, and I also have an iPhone and MacBook Air and thought I would outline why I love apple and their accessibility of all their products. After seeing the new commercials they are running showing how people with disabilities use their products in everyday life. Even better is that the people in the commercial were not being portrayed as inspirational for being able to use the products, but that they enhanced their life and they could use them like everyone else.

Having a product that you can go into the store open up and have it accessible right out of the box is huge for me. I love that I can take my apple products out no matter what it is and set it up myself. I do not need to buy extra software to install on it or wait for someone else to set it up and then turn on the accessibility features for me. The level of independence that I can have with the apple products is great.

I love my iPhone for all of the things that it can do to make my life more accessible. I have many apps on my phone that I use throughout the day to do daily things. I have a GPS app called Blind Square that is a great help when going somewhere new especially. I have two apps that help with finding out what things are such as a box from my pantry or even what color something is. Those two apps are TapTap See and Be My Eyes.I also have all of my social media apps on my phone so that I can interact with all of you !

I use Voice Over on my Apple products this is the built-in screen reader that comes on all of Apple’s products. It will read out whatever is on my phone screen and allow me to do everything a sighted person can do on their phone. I can send e-mails, text messages, even take photos as it will tell me how many people I have in the frame and where they are in the frame.This is available on all of their products, even the Apple Tv making it my go to because I can scroll through Netflix or iTunes to find something to watch without needing my family to read out the program guide.

The Apple products that I have and use on a regular basis are MacBook Air, iPad, iPhone, iWatch, and Apple Tv.

The fact that Apple has made accessibility a priority says a lot, it also shows so many other companies that it is possible and if you take the time to make products accessible you will have people who will buy them and appreciate it more than ever.

Thanks for taking the time to read !

Until Next Time !

Ashley and Rick

Are You Capable ?

Hello Everyone,

Hope you are all doing well. We have had some challenges the last few weeks with some medical issues in our family, this has brought up another misperception that is out there.

I have run into this a few times in my life having three kids so I thought it was time to speak out about it.

My daughter has epilepsy and she recently had a few seizures and we needed to visit our local hospital. They are a great group of ladies and are amazing for the most part. However when I took my daughter in I felt like a second class citizen. Why you might ask, well the doctor on that day would not speak to me he would only speak to my husband and I was also asked how i knew if she was having a seizure if I could not see. They also asked if there was someone else there that could see.

This is not the first time that people won’t address me when we are at a medical appointment, they speak to who ever I am with. I have also in the past been questioned whether it is safe to be a parent since I am blind.

These things are just ridiculous, I am capable, I know when my daughter is having a seizure, I am capable of telling you what happened during her seizure. I am also very capable of listening to what the doctor or medical professional is telling me and comprehending these things.

There is only one thing that I lack and that is vision however that in no way makes me lack in any other area of my life. If you think that I am not capable of being a parent then you should talk to my kids.

I asked them the other day if they wished that I wasn’t blind. Their response to me by all three of them was “no it doesn’t make any difference, you are just as good as any other mom.” Now if the whole world could see people who are blind for more than their disability the world would be an amazing place.

Until Next Time !

Ashley and Rick