Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Game On!

After eating delicious zucchini patties at Ruby Tuesdays many months ago, I decided to make them on my own. Sometimes recipes are available online so I did a search and found one on a site called, Beth's Journey.  Impressed with the recipe and the very delicious zucchini patties, I read through the blog.

Since she was a child, Beth has struggled with her weight. Her blog is about her efforts to live a healthy lifestyle. Since 2009 she has lost a significant amount of weight through Weight Watchers and exercise. I liked her style of writing - honest, open and helpful, so I signed up to receive her posts.

Her most recent post is about a contest that begins this Monday, March 4. The contest, also called Social Dieting, is run through Diet Bet. The basic premise is that participants pay an entry fee into a pot, then over the course of 4 weeks each participant tries to lose 4% of their body weight. All who succeed split the pot.

I am always a sucker for a fun way to lose weight and stay in shape, so I paid my $25 and signed on. If you are looking for a creative way to get yourself on track, check it out.

And if you are looking for a healthy, great tasting recipe:
Zucchini Burger Recipe

Friday, February 22, 2013

Angels on Earth

I had a working lunch meeting today at one of my old haunts near the university. I arrived early and immediately realized that the only other people in the cafe were a group of adults with special needs. I said hello, grabbed a menu and quietly watched the group and its staff from my seat by the window.

Not many minutes later, the group started to leave and one of the two staff members yelled to a group member who was walking out the door, "Don't you want to get a magazine? Take whichever ones you like." Then he pulled another member of the group toward him, gave him a hug and said the same thing about the magazines to him. His voice was loving and gentle, and I was overwhelmed with some emotion I cannot begin to name - happiness, gratitude, relief? While I had been observing this group, I had been judging too. I thought I would "catch" the staff say a mean word or act inappropriately with their special group.

Just before this staff member closed the door to leave, I knew I had to say something to him. It would be a missed and regretted moment. "I have a special needs child and I worry for my son when he gets older. You were so kind just now." I started to cry and my words ran together, but he understood what I was trying to say to him.  This stranger hugged me and said, "With people like us around, you don't have to."

There are angels that walk among us. You just have to open your eyes a little wider to see their wings.

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Snow Falling on Ben

Ben did not want to be left behind.
This is a very rare photo: Ben with a hood on.
Ben saw the falling snow as just one big snack, free for the taking.

And there goes the hood.

Saturday, February 16, 2013

More Than a Feeling

On a day when there was no school, I took the kids to the YMCA to play basketball while I worked out. Cameron, our newest community worker and also a gift from God, was with us. It was her first time experiencing the YMCA with Ben and his celebrity status. It was also her first time seeing him throw a tantrum.

When it came time to leave, Ben decided he did not want to leave. He successfully threw himself on the floor and refused to be lifted into his walker. At almost 65 lbs, he can decline to move his body, and we have to oblige.

I was frustrated with him. The other kids were waiting outside, and we needed to be somewhere else soon. I told Ben we were leaving and I watched hidden, behind a column as he pulled himself into a chair and sat very nicely. He did not care one iota that his family had left.

At this point my frustration subsided and I realized he wanted something and was determined to get it. I took out the NOVA Chat and quickly plugged in a few feelings buttons. When approached with the communication device with the choices, Ben chose angry.

I knew what he would choose, but he did it so swiftly that I was blown away.  After nine years, he was finally able to tell us what he was feeling. Anger. We didn't have to wonder or interpret. Sure, he was exhibiting all the signs of frustration and anger, but he was able to say it for himself. He was able to choose. Isn't that what we all strive for, to say what we are feeling, even if we display the feeling in an outward and non-verbal manner?

Once he was able to say this, I explained to Ben the plan - we were leaving, but would be able to come back to the Y another day. I told him that I understood his anger, but needed his help in getting to the car.

We made it to the car with Ben using his walker to get there.

Since then, Ben has been able to tell us when he is sick, happy, hot, cold, and just right. Recently while at the movies he wanted to leave before the end and expressed it through the NOVA Chat. Cameron was able to explain that we had to stay to the end because we were with other people. She gave him the choice to stay in the theater or wait in the lobby. He chose the theater and remained silent for the remainder of the movie.

It is more than a feeling, it is power.

Friday, February 15, 2013

Wine + Paint = CRAZY LOVE

On Valentine's Evening, Ryan and I went with another couple to The Wine Palette to eat chocolates, drink wine and paint "four letter words." With 10 other couples and the guidance of the artist in residence, Raffaele, we determined our colors and words. It was amazing to see how creative some people were with their designs. It was a supportive environment and everyone was there to have fun, laugh and relax.

If you do not have a business like this in your area, Michael's has all the supplies you need for a creative date.

Thursday, February 14, 2013

PT in the Pool

Ben's new physical therapist suggested we meet at our local YMCA's pool for therapy. Knowing how much Ben loves the water and how good this type of exercise is for him, I asked permission from the Y and received the "nod."

Ben sees Gale once a week and it has been an overwhelming success. Ben shows us kicking and paddling skills that can be shaped into a nice doggy paddle, a very respectable way to get around in the water (I don't know from personal experience or anything).

Ben uses the life jacket at all times and he has learned how to roll himself over to get his face out of the water. He practices walking on the stairs, monkey walks on the side of the pool and jumps in with Gale after each set. They have worked up to almost an hour of swimming, doing 4 repetitions of walking, climbing and swimming.

The best part is Logan and Sean realized they could join Ben in the pool too. Being in the pool together is great for all of them. And perhaps I am asking too much, but maybe they will all come home tired?
Not a chance!

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

BB at the Special Olympics

On the same day Ben received the Principal's Award, he also brought home the Silver in Basketball at the Special Olympics.

Frankly, I was skeptical about how this was going to transpire, but I left impressed with the program. The focus was on skill building. Ben had two events - catching (photo above) and dribbling. He was given a minute in each event to catch the ball (catching) and then push the ball down (dribbling) as many times as he could.

My biggest surprise was that he seemed to enjoy himself. After witnessing baseball, bowling and boccie ball, I was sure another "B" sport would bomb. He was engaged and happy - two factors that are high on my list for success for anyone.

If you have concerns about how Ben may be handling receiving so many awards in just one day, you can see in this video how he gave up the Silver quicker than almost humanly possible: Medal Ceremony

Sunday, February 10, 2013

Principal's Award

This year, the new principal at Ben's school started an awards program based on character traits such as hope, courage and citizenship. The award is given monthly to a student on each grade level and one child in the Special Academic Curriculum, in which Ben is a student.

Ben received the award for January's Principal's Award based on the character trait determination. The nomination form read: Ben shows determination in everything he does! Whether he is determined to walk down the hall or to sit in his favorite chair, he perseveres. He also shows determination in his work by choosing answers of his choice and working hard until he is successful.

I am proud of Ben and very glad the school includes the SAC program in these activities. I am even more astonished that I caught this photo at the very moment before Ben tried to rip the certificate out of the assistant teacher's hand. He looks so angelic holding his certificate...but if I had taken subsequent shots, a whole other story would have unraveled.