Morgan’s Wonderland – A Special Needs Special Place

November 6, 2010

Inspired by my friend Rob’s Facebook status today about Special Education Week, I decided today had to be the day I shared an old article I ran across the other day. I had saved it because I wanted to share it with friends whose new baby has spina bifida. It is Ticket to Ride in the October 4th People Magazine.

Because I know several families with special needs kids, the article struck me as very special. Here was a dad who could do something – and DID it – to make the world a better place for not only his own special needs daughter Morgan, but for others as well.

Gordon and Maggie Hartman created Morgan’s Wonderland in San Antonio, Texas. It is a place where kids can ride a train, a carousel, a swing or they can experience sensory activities such as the interactive music garden – all independent of their physical or mental abilities. Actually it is even better than that because special needs adults can also have these great experiences – maybe even for the first time in their lives.

ABC News ran a special report American Heart: Spreading Joy to Special Kids about the new park that opened last April 2010. Here is the vision for a park for special needs people as documented by Gordon Hartman in its conceptual phase.

The hours, pricing and directions are here.

Check out ideas and activities to do with kids on https://mygrandmasue.wordpress.com by the author of the award-winning children’s book Grandpa, Do It! I Do It, Too!
🙂


Austin’s Reno Toboggan Rides

January 31, 2010

After being a good boy in the car (Are we there yet?) for a full day’s ride from Medford, Oregon to Reno, NV, last December, Austin was rewarded with a morning of sledding! We all had great fun! He must have had 15 to 20 rides down the little incline of cleared landscape – as in – it had fewer rocks than the rest of the land! Lots of fun in the crispy, fresh air! I posted a few runs on youtube:

One

…another run at it….
Two

…and yet another run… I have lots of short clips but they all stop about half way down the hill because I stop the camera so I can catch him. This one runs a little further!
Threeeeeee

…and then a closer look at the nearby rocky bits that we maneuvered around for a toboggan run!

Check out https://mygrandmasue.wordpress.com for more interesting things and ideas! 🙂


Fun Places for Kids

December 2, 2009

Grandparents.com has a great list of “idea-sparkers” for you with the photo list of 9 Places For Hands-On Fun. They’re great ideas and each one has an opportunity to look for similar places near your home! Have Fun!!

Read more of my blogs at https://mygrandmasue.wordpress.com/


Memory Lane

November 16, 2009

Today was fun sharing our weekend adventures with the people at work and friends on the phone. It was like a trip down memory lane. We’d jump from one of our weekend adventures to someone’s remembered adventure from long ago. Had all kinds of smiles and grins. Just like the adventures in Grandpa, Do It! I Do It, Too!, once triggered the stories flowed from one cherished memory to another. Rainy days, sunny days, cloudy days all had their special moments. It was a lot of fun!

More info on https://mygrandmasue.wordpress.com


Great Weekend in Portland!

November 15, 2009

Grandpa Ron and I had a great weekend in Portland with Austin, Bella, Madison and family! It had lots of surprises, twists and turns, yet it was a whole lot of fun and very insightful for us.

Austin is so much taller and so much more vocal! Bella is so much more a young lady as well – she’s four. I had fun one-on-one time with Austin on Friday while Grandpa Ron was serving jury duty. Then Austin, Bella and I went back to the Portland airport and picked up Grandpa Ron – practicing counting to a hundred and twenty five along the way.

Then on Saturday Bella and I went with Mommy to her Baby Shower while Grandpa and Austin went to the Vancouver, WA train station and watched trains move around.

Back in the hotel room Austin used the portable luggage holder as his own train. He climbed in, sat on the middle straps and showed us how he was moving his train – with air brake releases, clunking and sssssssssshhhhhhhhhhhhhh-ing and all. Sometimes he was the conductor and sometimes he was the engineer. It was a lot of fun watching his imagination at work. I do have pictures so I’ll get them posted – maybe tomorrow night. Now it is time to unpack and get to bed for bright eyes for work in the morning!!

More info on https://mygrandmasue.wordpress.com


Nature Rocks

September 16, 2009

The back of my Autumn Nature Conservancy magazine had a little ad on the back for Nature Rocks: Let’s Go Explore. It is a fun website to click through – complete with children’s voices and ducks! Here is a Staycation Guide (takes a while to load – it is a pdf file) on things to do as a family close to home. A fun feature to play with is Find Nature. Great photos can be seen here. Enjoy!


Sand Harbor, Lake Tahoe and More

August 20, 2009

Summer days at the lake were always memorable! The August 2009 Sunset Magazine has two articles about lakes: Lake Tahoe – where Sand Harbor is the place to swim – and then the Top 10 Lakeside Camps – the on-line article has 15, including the best photo ops, sunsets, fun, small town feel, and four-star food!


National Parks of the West

August 19, 2009

The August 2009 Sunset Magazine has a great article by Peter Fish and photographed by Ian Shive on National Parks With Amazing Views: Grand Teton National Park, Yosemite National Park, Channel Islands National Park, Canyonlands National Park and Yellowstone National Park. It has an on-line link to an interactive page with lots of information on Glacier National Park, Grand Canyon National Park, Grand Teton National Park, Olympic National Park, Yellowstone National Park, Yosemite National Park, and Zion National Park. Watch the video of Sunset editor-in-chief Katie Tamony interviewing Ken Burns, who is the filmmaker of “National Parks: America’s Best Idea” – PBS will show it on September 27. The other videos are also very good. There are suggestions, photos and a map where you click on the park for even more info on activities, accommodations, campgrounds, and “top wow spots” from Sunset. I found it quite awesome!


Outdoor Volunteer Events

August 4, 2009

Letter I received from the National Wildlife Federation last week:

Join NWF and millions nationwide for the federal government’s United We Serve initiative dedicated to showcasing volunteer opportunities through September 11, 2009. One positive outcome of the economic downturn is a dramatic increase in volunteerism. During the week of August 3rd, United We Serve is highlighting projects related to Energy and the Environment.

Here’s how you can make a difference:

Pass on a love of nature – Support the Department of Interior’s United We Serve initiative to mentor a youth outdoors and pass on a love of nature. NWF offers several resources including:

NatureFind – Search by city, state, or zip code to access outdoor adventures nationwide, including activities and events, trails, regional parks, and more.

Wildlife Watch– Watch for animals and plants in your neighborhood and share sightings online to track the health of species. A fun and educational nature-watching program created for people of all ages.

Find a volunteer project near you – Visit United We Serve’s website to discover short and long-term volunteer opportunities in your community. Enter your zip code to get started.
Be part of the national volunteering movement for positive change!

Sincerely,

Eliza Russell
Director of Education
National Wildlife Federation

P.S. Remember, you can make a difference by mentoring a child outdoors. Join NWF’s Be Out There campaign to encourage increased outdoor time for kids and families.


Grandpa Ron’s Review

July 28, 2009

At first, it was a series of pictures of Grandpa and Grandson enjoying themselves. Once the book Grandpa, Do It! I Do It, Too! was together with the words, it became how do you influence another individual – and it’s multigenerational when you look at it that way. Of course, then that path has a deeper meaning in terms of philosophy in terms of understanding relationships. Parents and grandparents have to be careful because here are examples of the child emulating adult behavior.

The book started out a simple story from Grandma Sue’s hand. It grew deeper and broader through her artistic endeavors. For anyone who considers themselves a teacher or a rabbi, this book truly captures that student/teacher or parent/child relationship. It certainly has given me an awareness of the influence I have had on the people around me that I never realized I had before. The book brings that all into focus: my relationship with parents, grandparents, brothers and sister. All these memories were dormant but right there all the same. It has done that for several other people who have shared their reactions, feelings and experiences with us.

So from a simple picture story of a magical week, it became a reflection of all those things that derive from earning and sharing love and respect. This book captured it all.

Not everybody gets it. Some see just the pictures and don’t put themselves into the picture – so they miss out on the meaning and opportunity to relive their own special moments. Every one of those pictures reminds me of antics with my brothers and sister in younger days with family members. My brothers and I built roads in the dirt, sometimes using rocks as the trucks, using knockouts as manhole covers and using electrical conduit as sewer lines. The morning cereal one reminds me of my daughter and me making breakfast together. The swimming picture reminds me again of my daughter. All brought back. All brought back into focus by Grandpa, Do It! I Do It, Too! – I didn’t even realize all those memories were there. I look at my relationships with other people and I see similar characteristics that I just didn’t realize were there.

From a family values perspective I don’t know of a better example. Age doesn’t matter. It’s two people having fun in a very classic sense. It’s learning from one another – a two-way communication – like the cereal picture, I thought about picking him up and holding him while I prepared the cereal but I knew he’d get too heavy to hold long. So I got the stool. That facilitated him doing his own cereal preparation.

It’s more than “just pictures” of a grandpa and grandson that were captured. It’s a trip down memory lane for most of us – young or old.


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