Sunday, July 25, 2010

2010 USA Special Olympics Update

Driving down town in Lincoln to drop my boys off at their summer camp was all it took for my excitement to come back.  After seeing all the teams on Monday morning, walking on the UNL campus to their events, and driving by the Special Olympics town, I could not wait to experience more. 

On Tuesday Ben and I had some time before we could pick up the big boys, and the Basketball venue was on the way, so we stopped.  The game we saw was Men's Basketball.  Texas vs. Indiana.  I was surprised at how physical the game was.  We did not get to see the whole game, and I can not really remember who was even ahead, since we were cheering for both sides.  Every time a basket was made Ben would cheer and clap.  He was flirting with everyone.  I have never seen him quite so outgoing, practically lunging out of my arms to go to complete strangers.  It was as if he know he was in a place where he would be loved and accepted by everyone.  In the short half hour we were there I had10-15  people come up and talk to me about Ben.  We go out in public daily, and while I might get a comment every now and then, it was nothing like this.   People would walk by and say "There is a future gold medalist".  Others, I could tell, were Mom's of athletes, who were remembering back to the days when their child was a toddler.  But soon it was time to go.

After I got the boys, I had planned to take them to Bocce, but they really wanted to go to Special Olympics town.   Ben was in the stroller since it was a few blocks walk from the parking garage.  There were 3 blocks fenced off around Pershing Auditorium with lots of different tents outside.  Some had vendors, free crafts, karaoke, a sand sculptor, souvenirs and a misting station too.  The boys enjoyed getting misted.  It was fun to watch everyone.  I bought a T-shirt, John got a hat and Noah got sun glasses.  The boys made pinwheels for Ben.   We watched a few groups of athletes perform choreographed routines to music with flags. 
The Sand Sculpture

Funky looking blow up by the craft tent

Athlete performances

Then we went inside the auditorium.   That is where they had the Sports Experience.  They had 11 Wii games set up, pool tables, ping pong tables, a volley ball net, basket ball hoops, and a putting green. 
They boys had a blast and did not want to leave.  Poor little Ben however, was not as impressed he bolted when I tried to let him out, so I had to fight him back in the stroller.  It was just not safe for him to run around in there with so many sports and bigger people playing them.  But finally I was able to talk the big boys into going home.

Wednesday after work, the boys have Piano lessons and Ben had therapy, and by the time they were done, there were no events left to go see.  Thursday after work we planned to go again, but could not find anything still going on at 4:00 in the afternoon. 

The Special Olympic Torch
Friday night was the closing ceremony.  I called the radio station about 30 times and finally got thru to get tickets.  The closing ceremony was good, but very loud.  There were 3 or 4 singers, that I had never heard of that performed.  They were OK but not my type of music.  An hour and a half into the program, Noah was really not enjoying it.  He asked me for the 20th time if we could go home, so I looked over at Randy and both he and Ben were sitting there covering their ears, so I agreed it was time to go.  John could have stayed for the whole thing if we would have let him. 

Small Change

The Color Guard

Singing the National Anthem

As we were leaving I decided to use the restroom before the long drive home.  While they were waiting, Randy and the boys struck up a conversation with a couple of swimmers from Arkansas.  The lady gave Ben her Special Olympics Arkansas hat, and was trying to convince us that swimming should be the sport we help Ben get into.   She had won 4 or 5 gold medals in swimming this week.  I did not think fast enough to grab my camera and get a picture, or to get her name.  But is sure was nice to meet her and get to know here a little bit.  Made me feel much better about leaving the closing ceremonies early. 

While I am still not sure if Ben will want to pursue any sports in the future, I do feel that after our experience this week, I will not hesitate to help him get involved in Special Olympics.  It was a positive and uplifting time for all of us. 

Friday, July 16, 2010

Speical Olympics - Mixed Feelings

The National Special Olympics start today, just 20 miles away from where we live.

When I first found out the National Special Olympics would be in Nebraska over a year ago, I was so excited. I went and signed up on line to be a volunteer right away. I wanted to help out and learn more about the Special Olympics, in case it would be something might want to get Ben involved with in the future.

Now a year later, with the opening ceremonies just hours away, I don't have that same excitement.

First, they lost my on-line volunteer registration. OK. Not a big deal, I just re-registered. I also encouraged others from the DSAF to sign up too, and even called in to have my name put down as being the contact for our group. Then I waited, and waited, and waited. Others reported getting emails, but I did not receive any. I went on-line numerous time, each time having to reset my password and followed all the steps for volunteering. Still I got nothing.  I sent an emails, left phone messages, asking for information, and guessed it, Nothing!

While speaking to others about their experiences with volunteering, I got similar stories of frustration. One person was told that the on-line registration system was not very reliable. Obviously. How can they pull off an event this huge, with out a reliable on line system? I hope for the sake of the athletes, it goes smoothly.

I had also heard, from other parents that there were some hard feelings about how the athletes were chosen to participate in the games. In Nebraska, the athletes were chosen in a lottery system, and not based on performances in the state games. Supposedly one parent, who was upset that their child was not chosen, was told that the National games are about bringing celebrities in and raising money, and are not really about the athletes. Really? I doubt that Eunice Kennedy Schriver would agree with that. Now to be fair, I did not get this information first hand, and am sure it was passed along and modified somewhat along the way, but still.

It does make me wonder, as I see many of the big companies in Lincoln, proudly displaying flags announcing their support of Special Olympics, and encouraging their employees to take paid time off to volunteer. Each taking out ads in the paper to show how much they are supporting the event. Almost as if they are trying to one up each other. Who is this really about?

I don't know yet if the Special Olympics is something we will pursue in the future for Ben. So many have fought for inclusion for our children, and in a way I can see how participation in the Special Olympics might be seen as a step back from that philosophy. I know in my vision of Ben's future, I see him at least playing t-ball and maybe baseball in our small town community, with his peers. It may or may not happen, but I hope it does. Only time will tell.

So here I sit, with nothing to volunteer for. Which is OK, as it now gives me more freedom to view the games as a spectator.  I will still take my boys to the games and Special Olympics Town as long as we can find a place to park. And we will cheer for the athletes. Which after all, is what the Special Olympics should be about.

Make Me Laugh.

I often get photos of my kids that make me laugh every time I see them.  Here is one of Ben trying to learn how to eat oatmeal with a spoon.   He is pretty good about getting the food in his mouth, but also gets it lots of other places too. 

The Paper Mama

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Happy Birthday Noah!

Happy 8th B-day Noah!

We celebrated Noah's Birthday, Saturday with a scavenger hunt for the boys in his class.  OK.  It really was not a scavenger hunt.  It was more like a contest with clues.  We split the boys into two teams:  Black and Tan and gave them hats in their team colors.  Then had them read a clue that told them what task they needed to do, and how many points they could earn by successfully completing each challenge.  The tasks were to throw a football through a hoop, shoot baskets, putt a golf ball, kick a soccer ball into a net, dig treasure out of the sandbox, fill a cup with water using a spoon, and climb over the jungle gym.  Here are pictures of each team while they were on the jungle gym.

After playing the game, ( the black team won ) we had cake and ice cream, and opened presents.  The boys finished the party with a game of kick ball.  It was a bit hot out, but I think they had fun. 
I know Noah did.

On a different topic, we have been seeing a lot of wild animals around lately.  We had a wedding after the birthday party, Saturday, and saw a bob cat that was hit and killed on our way to Lincoln.  Turns out it was our neighbor that hit it on his way to the reception.   Then we saw a coyote, standing in the road just north of our drive way, that ran into the corn field next to our house.  I had always told the boys when they were little not to wander into the corn because coyotes lived in there.  At least now the boys know I was not making that up.  Plus the coyotes have been making a lot of noise at night, so I knew they were around.    Yesterday I saw a beaver or a ground chuck run into the barn.   And I usually have a deer who watches me water the garden at night from the tree line across the field.  It makes me little nervous about little Ben being out side playing and straying away from me.  He likes to explore and is going faster everyday.   Not that most of those animals would hurt a 2 year old, but a bob cat or a coyote?  I think I will carry a golf club or a baseball bat with me the next time we go outside. 

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Time to Potty!

Ben went pee in the potty chair!  Yeah.

OK don't get too excited.

It was kind of an accident.

He is no where near, being able to pull his pant up and down by himself.  However,  I have been sitting him on the potty chair while I have been running his bath water for about 2 months now, in hopes that he might accidentally pee a little in the chair so he could see what was supposed to happen. 

It finally worked. 

We made a big production out of it,  inviting Dad and big brothers in to the bathroom for high fives. 

Then he tried to play in it.

So it was time to get in the tub.  

Where he promptly peed again. 

Oh well, at least it is a start.

Sunday, July 4, 2010

Happy 4th of July!

Here are some pictures from some of our 3rd of July fun.
The boys took in a little fishing. 

We went to Claire and Mara's house and visited with great friends and
enjoyed some yummy food.  Like usual. 

And we watched some really cool fireworks at the lake.  
Another full day of celebrating planned for tomorrow.  
Thanks everyone and have a happy and safe 4th of July!