March 29, 2010

A special competition in Quebec

"Disabilities are yet another manifestation of global diversity. Let us always be committed to the fundamental principles of dignity and equality for all human beings."
Kofi A. Annan, Secretary-General, United Nations
Last weekend Louis participated in the Quebec Provincial Special Olympics ski championship -- and earned GOLD in his division. It was an exciting day for Louis, and for us. We're so proud of Louis, his teammates and the volunteers we spent time with each Sunday this winter getting ready for the final competition of the season. We're especially proud of Danielle who also spent her Sundays skiing with Special Olympians when she could have stayed home and slept or Facebooked all day. 

When you have a child with a disability there are times when you feel like you miss out on the "typical" experiences of raising a child -- like getting excited about a report card or grade, or......come to think of it, while sometimes we wonder how things would be if we were typical, as I write this, there's not that much we are missing. We certainly don't miss the politics of kid's sports and there are times we're thankful we don't have to endure tryouts, traveling teams and all that goes with that stuff which seems so important at the time, but in the long run, it is not. We appreciate each and every accomplishment and we don't take things for granted.  Perhaps we've taken on the mantra "it is what it is" and we're enjoying the"12-year-old pre-teenage years before adulthood" stage of raising a child with a disability. We now focus on Louis' abilities and not his disabilities.

While we love participating in Special Olympics, we have always had Louis involved in "normal" sports as well.  I hesitate to say normal, but it is what it is. As most coaches and teammates will attest, there's not a more loyal teammate than Louis. And as a parent, it's been awesome to sit in the stands at events over the last year and a half we've been in Canada and hear the other parents cheering for if they know he's working twice as hard as anyone. During a basketball game last week when his team was clearly in the lead, it was the parents on our team yelling "pass the ball to Louis" and cheering him on saying "way to go" each time he handled the ball.  At the same time we refuse to have him labeled as "special" in the games and unlike other teams, we won't let there be provisions and rules against guarding Louis. In other words, he does not receive any special treatment. And by the way, in his playoff game yesterday he had two great steals and his team won the Bantam championship!

Even though it's Special Olympics, don't think it's not competitive. These kids and adults can ski. They can ski so well it's easy to ask, "should they be in this competition?" And they want to win just like any other athlete. They want to stand on the medal stand.  And yes, some get disappointed and that's not bad either as it's also an important life lesson. One athlete at the competition looked like a member of  the Team USA Hockey Team when he received his bronze medal...he really wanted the Gold. 

We're also proud to be Americans when we participate in Special Olympics...knowing the organization was started over 40 years ago in Eunice Kennedy Shriver's backyard and now involves over 3 million athletes in 150 countries. And kudos to the Canadian government for adding $2 million to Special Olympics Canada over the next two years to help enrich the lives of Canadians with intellectual disabilities through sports. 

If there's a Special Olympics competition in your area, anywhere in the world, stop by. Cheer on the athletes. One thing is for sure, at these competitions everyone is cheering for each other. Parents, coaches, athletes, volunteers and fans. These kids (and adults) have to work harder....not just in sports but in life.

March 24, 2010

Metric system confusion, again

I really should have paid more attention to the Metric lessons in school. And I wish I had a Canadian car with KPH being more obvious on the speedometer. And I wish I wasn't speeding. Turns out there's a bit of a difference between 50 KPH and 50 MPH.

"But sir, I was going 50" didn't get me out of a ticket. And with Danielle in the passenger seat calculating the speed for me she basically said "mom, you're screwed."

He wasn't friendly, and either was I. I got stopped on a speed trap service road. A place where it's a bit like fishing at a trout farm. For my Chicago friends, it's like having to go approximately 30 mph on the service road next to the Eisenhower when everyone is going 70 mph. I was having a nice mother daughter talk about teenage stuff and before I knew it I was flagged down by the officer who proceeded to speak in French and I had to ask him to repeat it in English all the time knowing the fact that I don't speak French (other than Bordeaux and hors d'oeuvre) could affect the outcome of the ticket. And to compound the situation he wouldn't let me see the radar gun, I'm certain because I kept saying I was only going 50 and then he said "as a police officer, would I lie?" To which I said, "I'm from Chicago, what do you think?" I don't think he understood. I was hoping name dropping Chicago would at least get us chatting about Obama. It didn't work.

So, the ticket is on the visor of my car as a gentle reminder for the next 27 days (when it's due) to slow down. Then today I look up and notice the wording on one side of the ticket. What the? Yes, it says TAMPON! I come home and type the words into Google translate (wouldn't want to pull out my iPhone at the stop light and use that handy app because we're handsfree here in Quebec and can't call a French speaking friend because the blue tooth needs charging) and translate Tampon to find it means buffer. Well, as a matter of fact, yes, I would call "it" a buffer. But, Tampon du Caissier means Cashier's Stamp.  This is one crazy language in a province with crazy, expensive traffic tickets.

March 17, 2010

Being Irish O'Quebec

Everyone claims to be Irish on St. Patrick's Day. It's an excuse for a parade and a Guiness or two, or three. The Irish heritage in Montreal is such a part of the history of the city that the clover is on the official flag.

The red cross in the middle represents the "Christian motives and principles which governed the founders of the city" as it states on the city website. The other symbols represent the four main European ethnic groups that were settled in the city in the XIX century.  And for the rest of the flag:
  • The fleur-de-lis, of the Royal House of Bourbon, represents the French, the original settlers of the city. The orginal coat of arms had a beaver in place until 1936. Thank goodness. Enough with the beaver already.
  • The Lancastrian rose represents the English.
  • The shamrock represents the Irish.
  • The thistle represents the Scottish.
Pretty cool, eh?

However, most Montrealers would prefer this as the official flag.

The nutty people Separatists of Quebec probably think the fleur-di-lis should be larger and more prominent, as is the case with any sign in Quebec. French has to be first and always larger. Several weeks ago we wrote a blog entry (click here)about the special donuts being offered at Tim Hortons in celebration of the Olympics. When Paul stopped by "our" Tim's several weeks ago and asked for a special donut, the lady behind the counter proceeded to tell Paul about some guy who came in and requested that if they were going to make donuts with maple leaves on them they sure as heck better start making some with the blue fleur-di-lis. She wasn't joking! We deal with this stuff daily.

There's a great exhibit at a history museum in Montreal we plan to get to one of these days. The website is very interesting.  For a great explanation of the history go to the website here for the McCord Museum in Montreal.

Happy St. Patrick's Day!

March 16, 2010

Canucks get ready for March Madness

Did you know that there are four Canadians playing on the Gonzaga Bulldogs basketball team headed for March Madness? We didn't, until reading the Globe and Mail today. We're guessing it's not big news outside of Spokane, Washington...which happens to be where Kish's brother Mick and his family live. And, ironically, Gonzaga is also the alma mater of Kish's youngest brother John.

Even though these players are from the western part of the country, we give them credit for choosing basketball over hockey...that's tough in Canada. Sort of like if you lived in Texas and your kid chose badminton over football.  Apparently they each chose Gonzaga because of the "atmosphere." Kish's brother will attest to that atmosphere...he had a lot of "fun" at Gonzaga playing rugby and various other activities. One of our family's favorite stories about Kish's Dad, Don, was when he went to Gonzaga one weekend to visit John and had a chance to see the "house" where John lived with several roommates. Always a classic for one liners, Don said "Jesus, this place is like termites holding hands." Oh to be back in college.

The Pisani family will be cheering on Marquette, as usual. However, as it turns out Marquette will be playing University of Washington, Mick's alma mater, in the first round. And because we are temporary Canucks, we'll also cheer on Gonzaga. It's better for family harmony.

For a link to the entire Globe and Mail article click here

Bol Kong Robert Sacre, Kelly Olynyk and Manny Arop are Gonzaga University's four Canadian players in Spokane, Wash.Bol Kong Robert Sacre, Kelly Olynyk and Manny Arop are Gonzaga Unive

March 13, 2010

Sounds like.....

While the NCAA tournament is about to go into full swing, Louis is also about to go into the playoffs for his basketball season. This year Paul decided to take a step back due to traveling and be the assistant coach. We're quite certain it is because of Paul that a new rule is in effect stating that assistant coaches must be seated on the bench during the entire game. So, Paul sits. And sits. Although, he's been threatened with technicals, even while sitting. He's enjoying his role as assistant, especially since his assistant from last year is now the head coach and is starting to make Bobby Knight look like a yoga instructor. This Quebecois (Canadian of very strong French decent) is known to throw his clipboard, scream at the kids and generally yell a lot. In French and broken English. Despite the clip board, he really doesn't know that much about basketball except to yell "hands up" a lot.

But nothing could prepare Paul for what came out the coach's mouth at the beginning of the season, when the team really wasn't doing that well. Paul heard him yelling "asshole, asshole, asshole," as the team was running down the court. Now, this shocked even Paul whose language is shall we say, colorful? And now it's colorful in French and English. It took a few moments for Paul to realize the coach was yelling "hustle, hustle, hustle." See, in French, the "H" is not pronounced which made "hustle" with a French accent sounds just like...."asshole."
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...