Saturday, September 26, 2015

Colour Blindness: Strategies for Home

This is the fourth post in my series on parenting a colour-deficient child.  The others are here, here and here just in case you missed them :)

How do you teach a child about colour?

Well, you probably start by talking about the colours of things you encounter (telling, really):
  • "This is Mommy's car.  Mommy's car is silver." 
  • "That is a nice orange shirt you're wearing." 
  • "This block is red.  That one is green."
Then you might move on to matching:

  • "Here is a red block.  Let's put all the red blocks together."
  • "This triangle is blue.  Do you see anything else that's blue in this picture?"
  • "These puzzle pieces are the same colour.  They should go together."
And on to questions about colour:
  • "What colour is this block?"
  • "What colour is your bedroom? What colour is your brother's bedroom?"
  • "What colour is daddy's hair?"

But what if that child is colour blind?

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Bespoke Post "Cheers" Review

Bespoke Post! It's been awhile since I ordered a box of awesome from Bespoke Post (see the review of "Aged" here). . . mostly because, as awesome as they are, they are also pretty expensive for a monthly sub (especially with exchange) and I just couldn't justify that!  Billed as a men's subscription, I prefer to think of Bespoke Post as a lifestyle sub.  True, some boxes seem very geared towards men but a lot of them would appeal to anyone!

Bespoke Post's boxes cost $45 US each and ship monthly (or you can make a one-time purchase for $55).  Shipping to Canada is an extra $10 but I have found a few boxes that will not ship here (one I really wanted was "too heavy").  But this is a sub which allows you to skip any month you would prefer not to receive a box, provided you do it within the first few days of the month.  And it also allows for choice which makes me happy.  Here's how it works:  at the beginning of the month, Bespoke's monthly selections are revealed and members receive an email indicating which box they are currently set to receive.  If you like that box, do nothing and they'll send it to you.  If you would prefer one of the other options (there's usually a new box or two plus some old favourites available), log into the site and swap your box.  If you would prefer not to receive a box at all, log in and skip the month.  If you forget, they'll send your default box that month.

Luckily, I got in on a fantastic deal with Groupon:  three months of Bespoke Post came to $63.20 US plus shipping (because. . . Canada).  Total.  That means I will be receiving three boxes of my choosing (I can still skip!) for less than half price :) Although I'd love to keep them all to myself, we will likely be using most of these for Christmas gifts so. . . if you're friends or family and don't want your gifts spoiled, stop reading! You've been warned ;)

This box is entitled Cheers and centres around. . . beer! Here's the first look:

Saturday, September 19, 2015

SquareHue September 2015 Review

For those unfamiliar with SquareHue, they make and sell 5-free polishes through a monthly subscription service.  They do not, at this time, sell the polishes outside of this monthly service.  Unlike some monthly nail polish subs, SquareHue does not offer choices or previews, instead promising 2 or 3 full-size colours and finishes according to a particular theme - truly a mystery box! The 2-polish box costs $10.99 per month and, according to their website, the 3-polish box is regularly $21.99 (but $14.99 right now. . . which is interesting because that's what I pay having picked up my first box for the same "deal").  Shipping to Canada is an extra $10 according to the FAQs but I'm not sure if that's changed since I signed up - I pay $23.99 US a box.  Go figure.  If it sounds like I have no idea about this sub, it's partly because I've been steadily skipping since April and partly because I'm a little disillusioned with this month's offerings.

Thursday, September 17, 2015

Colour Blindness: Famous Faces

This is the third post in a series on parenting colour blind children.  If you've missed the others, you can find them here (on Figuring it Out) and here (on The Science, Simplified).  This series was inspired by my searching for information on parenting colour blind children (since we discovered our 3 year old inherited this condition) and coming up mostly empty. . . well, except for a lot of articles about not seeing race. . . instead of, you know, not seeing colour which is what I was looking for.  Argh! So, not to be deterred, I decided that if it's not out there, it should be and maybe this is a sign for me to use this venue to share what I have discovered through research and experience.  Please share with anyone you think might benefit - especially parents and educators - and to share your own experiences and ideas in the comments.

The last two posts have been a little heavy.  Not intensely so.  But a little heavy nonetheless.  So today's is going to be a little sunshine-y, with smiles and happy feels.  Because a colour deficiency isn't the end of the world and it's not something that needs to stop you in your tracks or keep you from doing the things you love!  So, without further ado, here are some famous faces of people who have done great things despite their issues with colour.  While there is a lot of speculation out there, I've decided to stick with those people who are candid about their colour deficiencies or about whom I have been able to find evidence to support the assertion (with links wherever possible).

Sunday, September 13, 2015

Fabletics September 2015 Review

Have I mentioned how much I love Fabletics?  Oh, I have?  Well, forgive me if I do so again.

For those who are unfamiliar with Fabletics, they offer monthly workout outfits starting at $49.95 for VIPs (and seemingly at $10 increments from that point depending on the items and the number of items - outfits tend to be 2 or 3 pieces).  It is a subscription program so at the beginning of each month, you must either choose an outfit or opt out for that month - if you fail to do either, you will be charged the $49.95 minimum cost although you can later use that money to make a purchase (it's not like a punishment fee or anything).  To make things even more enticing, Fabletics offers your first month at half price - that's $25 for one of the cheaper outfits (or half of whatever the cost is of the outfit you choose).  Note the phrasing there:  "first month" - that means that taking advantage of this offer will set you up in their VIP program and you will then either need to purchase/skip each month. . . or I guess you could take advantage of the offer and then cancel if you really wanted to.

Now that that's out of the way, on to this month's outfit! 

Saturday, September 12, 2015

Julep Maven Custom Welcome Box Review

Introducing a new sub to this blog (but likely not new to many of my readers):  Julep Maven!

I had tried Julep this time last year and was not impressed.  The products were great (I got some nail polish and a top coat) but they were making some changes as a company and it had a negative impact on their shipping time and packing.  But I loved those polishes. . . so I kept an eye on what was happening in the Julep world and they really seem to have overcome whatever hurdles they were encountering last time around.  They have also branched out more and more into make-up, instead of just nail polish, which I like.  Since I've given up on Ipsy and am likely bidding Square Hue farewell in the next month or so, it seems like a great time to go for a nail polish and beauty sub.  Additionally, unlike the other two, Julep offers some customization and, like Square Hue, is skippable (after the first month).  Win-win!

Wednesday, September 09, 2015

Colour Blindness: The Science, Simplified

This is the second post in my series on parenting a colour-blind child (the first is here).  This series was born when I discovered that googling "colour blind children" and other combinations of those words, leads to a lot of articles and blogs about teaching children to ignore race.  Which is ridiculous in and of itself, and also ridiculous because there is a Real Thing called Colour Blindness that Real People deal with daily. While there are some excellent resources out there, they are few and far between.  So I decided to use my resources and share a bit of my research and experiences on this blog.  I will be writing a series of posts on the topic over the next little while and will update with further posts when I have more to share.  If you are also parenting a colour-deficient child, are colour blind yourself, are a teacher (because, whether you know it or not, you've taught and will teach colour -blind students), or know people who fit any of these criteria, please feel free to read, share and comment.  I don't think enough of us are talking.

This post is, as promised, some of The Science behind colour deficiencies like my son's.  I'll keep it simple because, well, I'm not a scientist. . . and I also think that simple explanations are easier for all of us.

Sunday, September 06, 2015

Tea Sparrow August 2015 Review

Another delicious month of Tea Sparrow! It is so exciting when this package lands in my mailbox :)

If you haven't heard of this sub, for $20 CAD per month (including shipping), Tea Sparrow sends 4 different types of loose leaf tea (so yes, you need some way to brew loose leaf  - tea balls are an inexpensive option) - usually a green, a black, a rooibos and an herbal but sometimes they mix it up.  The teas are separately packaged and are each approximately 0.6oz for a total of about 35 cups of tea per month (less if you use a lot of tea in brewing, maybe more if you're willing to brew twice using the same tea). 
If you want to try Tea Sparrow, check out this 60% off offer and get your first month for only $8! When you click the above link, you will be taken to a password-protected page.  Enter "teas" as your password and you will be offered the promotional discount.  Please be aware that this will start a recurring monthly subscription but Tea Sparrow allows you to skip any month through their website (although why would you want to?) and you can cancel at any time.  Enjoy!

Again this month, Tea Sparrow opted for summery teas perfect for brewing up some iced tea (or hot tea, if you so choose).  While there are lots of ways to brew iced tea from loose-leaf, my favourite is a cold brew method as I find it easiest.  I add as much tea as desired to a pitcher (anywhere from a few tsps to a few tbsps depending on the tea) and top up with water from my Brita.  The pitcher then sits in my fridge for anywhere from a few hours to overnight (again, depending on the tea and how it seems to be brewing) then I strain out the leaves and it's done :)

Here are this month's selections:

Earl Grey Vanilla Rooibos (rooibos, calendula petals, almond slices, vanilla and bergamot)

Earl Grey Vanilla Rooibos:
For some people, Orange Pekoe is Tea.  In my house, it was always the Earl so I love getting fancy teas with an Earl Grey flavour profile and this one is fancy and delicious.  While rooibos, despite being naturally caffeine-free, isn't usually my favourite type of "tea" (air quotes since it isn't, strictly, tea - different plant), Tea Sparrow seems to be working hard to change that.  This might be my favourite selection this month, equally delicious hot and cold.  Yum!

Pineapple Coconut Oolong (organic oolong tea from Taiwan, organic coconut flakes, organic pineapple flavour and organic coconut flavour)

Pineapple Coconut Oolong:
Awesome tropical flavour! Perfect for a batch of iced tea (I don't even think it needs sweetening. . . then again, I rarely think any tea needs sweetening so there's that).  I also tried this hot. . . not the best.  There's something a little strange for me about hot pineapple.  But so good, iced!

Mandarin Rose Tea (black tea, longan fruit and rose petals)

Mandarin Rose Tea:
Firstly, this is probably one of the most beautiful teas I've had.  Look at those rose petals! And it's also delicious.  I wasn't sure whether the rose would be off-putting as a flavour but this doesn't taste overly flowery and the fruitiness is quite pleasant.  I didn't get a chance to try this one hot yet (we just bought a Keurig so I've been taste-testing my way through a variety of coffees this month), but it makes a fresh, summery iced tea.  I even used it in a martini! Here's the recipe if you're into tea with your booze:
Rose Mar-tea-ni
1 1/2 oz Dillon's Rose Gin
1 oz brewed Mandarin Rose Tea
splash lemon juice

Shake over ice and strain into a chilled martini glass.  Garnish with a twist of lemon.

Seriously good.  I linked to Dillon's website if you've never heard of them or their awesome brews.  They have a "Where to get it" link if you're interested in trying the Rose Gin. . . and you should be - it's so delicious and unique!  But, back to the teas. . .

Citrus Sunburst (papaya cubes, mango bits, apple pieces, hibiscus blossoms, orange slices, pomegranate arils, and safflowers)

Citrus Sunburst:
Not my favourite this month.  While I have had great fruit teas from Tea Sparrow in the past (the Maracuja Orange from June in particular), this one just didn't hit quite the right note for me.  Where the Maracuja Orange offered almost an autumnal flavour to me, warming and bright, this one doesn't seem to have the same depth of flavour.  It's tasty but. . . just. . . not the one I'm reaching for this month.  I think it's better as an iced tea than a warm cup but did have a few issues brewing it - large pieces of fruit.  As you can see in the pic, I received a pretty much full-size orange slice.  In trying to brew a balanced cup using only 2 tsp as recommended, this was a bit of a pain - it took up too much space! I ended up biting it in half (it was hard!) to reserve some of the orange for later.  It looks nice but wasn't very practical unless I were brewing a large amount of tea.

As always, Tea Sparrow is consistently one of my favourite subs.  While I wasn't crazy on the fruit tea this month, the other 3 were all huge hits and I'm happy with that.  Unlike past months, there didn't seem to be a "plain" or "neutral" option this month either and I really appreciate that.  While I like the more conventional blends I've received, they aren't the ones I'm most excited about. . . and they tend to linger in my cupboard a little longer.

Wednesday, September 02, 2015

Colour Blindness: Figuring It Out

It's not uncommon - especially among males (8% of the male population in fact).  Yet it's not something many of us think about or know much about.  And that's not a big deal. . . for most of us.  Unless you are a teacher (in which case you should know and you should care).  Or are colour deficient (I think that sounds much nicer than colour "blind" - more accurate too).  Or have a colour deficient child.

And I am a teacher.  And I am a parent of (at least) one colour deficient child - we will have to wait until our new arrival is a little older to find out what his vision is like.  And I am frustrated at the lack of information and resources out there for parents of colour blind children.  I know it's not life-threatening and I know that most people with less-than-optimal colour vision develop excellent coping techniques and many achieve great things.  But how do I facilitate that for my son? How do I support the students who may not even realize that they see the world differently from others?

I am frustrated that when I google "colour blind children" and other combinations of those words, I get articles and blogs about teaching children to ignore race.  Ummm. . . that's nice and all. . . but colour blindness is a thing that real people live with every day, not a hashtag.  While there are some excellent resources out there, they are few and far between.  So I decided to use my resources and share a bit of my research and experiences on this blog.  I will be writing a series of posts on the topic over the next little while and will update with further posts when I have more to share.  If you are also parenting a colour deficient child, are colour blind yourself, are a teacher (because, whether you know it or not, you've taught and will teach colour blind students), or know people who fit any of these criteria, please feel free to read, share and comment.  I don't think enough of us are talking.

So my first post is entitled "Figuring It Out" because, obviously, the first step to addressing issues with colour is determining that there are, in fact, issues with colour.

Family History:
In my next post (here!), I'll get into the genetics connected with red-green colour blindness (I need to refresh myself on high school Biology first) but, in short, if there are any colour blind men in the mom's family, that may result in colour blind children.  It isn't a guarantee (unless mom, herself, is colour blind - in which case her sons will certainly be colour blind and her daughters have a decent chance as well), but it should be an indicator that this is something to be conscious of.

In my case, my father is colour blind as are two three (oops!) of his brothers.  Colour blindness, and strategies for coping with it, have been a way of life in my home since I can remember.  While my father is excellent at determining which colours go together (based on depth and hue), he often struggles with determining exactly what colour he is looking at - is that sweater a gray-green or a lovely heathered purple? He actually bought a pair of pants that he thought was a great deal. . . until my mom let him know they were pink instead of the gray he saw when he looked at them.  Until I moved out, I remember helping my dad select the tie he should wear with the shirt and jacket he had already chosen.  He could usually make good choices. . . but just needed the extra set of eyes to make sure he wasn't committing a fashion faux pas.

Needless to say, when I learned how colour blindness is passed along in families, I knew that if I had a son, this would be something to look out for.

The Clues:
My son is a voracious learner.  At 3 years old, he is fascinated by dinosaurs, fossils and how things work.  We'll read a story about how the earth's revolution around its axis causes day and night. . . the next evening, he's telling us that we're moving away from the sun and it will be nighttime soon.  He knows many shapes.  He sings various songs - some "kid" ones and a selection from the radio.  He can count to 20 (excluding a few numbers in the teens that he just doesn't like, and with the addition of "frelve").  He is mostly accurate while singing the ABC song and understands that letters make up the words in his story books (although he can't identify the letters themselves).

I don't share this to brag.  I share this so that you understand why the alarm bells were clanging when, despite our gentle teaching and colour-related games and patterning, he just didn't seem to get colour.  It was not uncommon to ask "what colour is this?" and have him pause and then seemingly pick one at random.  Asking him to match blocks of the same colour was just as likely to result in piles of green/yellow and red/purple as in discrete piles of just one colour.  He just didn't get it and was quickly losing interest in these types of games.

But blue.  He nails blue.  Every.  Time.  It's his favourite colour!

Some other signs that you may encounter (we didn't, possibly because of how young our son is) include:
  • smelling food before eating it (and reluctance to try new foods) - it's hard to find a meal appetizing if you're missing the colourful aspects of it
  • lack of interest or attention span in colouring in worksheets or games with a focus on colour
  • using the "wrong" colour (purple leaves, green faces, etc.)
  • excellent sense of smell and night vision (compensation?)
  • sensitivity to bright lights
  • complaining about head or eye aches when looking at something green on a red background or vice versa
  • denial of an issue with colour

We knew that we needed to get him checked out.

Next Steps:
Since I wear glasses and/or contact lenses, I have an eye doctor that I see.  She also examined my son's eyes when he was about 8 months old to ensure that they were healthy (I didn't even know that was a thing but I'm glad I found out about it).  So we had someone to turn to.  If I didn't have an optometrist, I would have asked my family doctor for her advice. . . it probably would have been to see an optometrist.

For adults, there are a range of tests that can be used to determine colour deficiencies.  For young children, it is a little more difficult.  I'm sure you've heard of the Ishihara Plate test? Well, maybe not by name, but it's this one:

There are many plates with various colours and numbers but generally, if you have normal colour vision, you should be able to read the numbers (can you?).  If you can't, you may have an issue with colour (although there are many people with normal colour vision who still have issues with this test apparently).

Now, obviously, a 3 year old is not going to be able to read these numbers off the page whether he can see them or not, so the children's version of the test uses shapes.  Our optometrist showed him a page with a circle, square and triangle on it and asked what the shapes were.  Satisfied that he could identify them by name (because if he couldn't, what's the point?), she moved on to the plates.  On each page, she asked what he could see.  She sometimes asked him to point to the shapes to ensure that he was, in fact, seeing them and not just caught up in "playing the game".  He loved every second of it!

The results were pretty clear:  he does have a red-green colour deficiency just like his grandpa.  And now we know.  And now we're learning and adjusting the way we deal with colour in our house.  And we know to let his teacher know so when he starts preschool next week, his difficulties with colour don't suggest other issues (with his development or with his attitude).

My dad doesn't remember consciousness of his vision being a thing.  It probably wasn't, in the 1960s.  But I like to think that we've become a bit more thoughtful and considerate about the various challenges that our children and students may face by 2015.  At least I hope so!

So welcome to our adventure and exploration of what it means to be colour blind and how we can best support our son while helping him to develop strategies to cope with his colour deficiencies.  I hope this isn't a one-way soap box but a conversation starter.  Please feel free to continue that discussion in the comments, in your own homes and communities, wherever you choose!

Here are some excellent resources to get started on exploring colour blindness: