Thursday, March 03, 2011

Turtle Island

A few weeks ago, my daughter's Sparks Club hosted Turtle Island. This is the second year they've done this, and it really is a great time!

Basically they decorate the gym so it looks like someplace warm and sunny and full of beaches and whatnot. They turn the heat up. Make yummy food. And invite everyone to show up and pretend it's summer. And in Chicago in February, that is absolutely a welcome little break from winter. In addition to that, all the kids can purchase a wooden turtle (a few weeks before the event for a very minimal fee) to take home and decorate. They bring them to Turtle Island and race them.

This year my 8yo made a ballerina turtle. I did help some, but she did most of it her self (the tu-tu we did a no-sew method!)


It's hard to see in that photo, but on the turtle's head is a hole. To race the turtle, you take a string, with one end tied to the back of hte chair, thread it through the turtle's head.
(turtles at the start line)

The child sits near the finish line and pulls the string.


As the string is pulled and released, the turtle will "hop" along the floor. It sounds easy, but if you pull too hard, your turtle will completely flip over. If you pull too softly it won't hop.

(a turtle hopping down the track!)

The first turtle to cross the finish line is the winner. The way our club runs it is there is the first round. All teh winners move to the next, then the next, then the last round. That winner goes on to the "final" race. Then all of that is repeated two more times, so that there are a total of 3 turtles in the final - and those are the ones who will win first, second, third place for speed. In addition to getting a trophy for speed, they also have a design contest. There are three adults who are the judges and they pick a first, second, and third place for design. And there is also the people's choice award. Anyone there can vote by paying a penny. So if you give a dollar, you have 100 votes to give. The person who earns the most votes, wins people's choice. {Also, the money used to vote goes to support Awana clubs around the world, so it's also a fund-raiser of sorts!}

You can imagine how excited this is - 40ish kids aged 5-9 racing their turtles! It's so fun and exciting! And if I can have a mommy brag for a moment, my 8yo won first place. First place!

She was beyond thrilled. And as her mom, I was so proud - not because she won though (that was just the icing on the cake). She stood by all her friends and cheered for them when it was their turn to race. It was actually a group of 5 girls who all cheered each other on. It was so sweet and fun to watch. I loved it. She also brought some of her own money and voted for her friends' turtles {and yes, she also voted for herself which I didn't object to since her priority was her friends!}.

But that's not all. My darling 8yo also won 2nd place in design. And People's Choice (mostly due to my youngest sister buying lots of votes for her!). My 8yo came home with 3 trophies that night. And the biggest smile ever.

And can I just tell you? It warmed my heart. Aside from participation ribbons/trophies, my 8yo has never won anything. I don't know how much I've shared before, but at one point we were told she probably had low functioning autism and would never lead a normal life. We know now it's not autism {We did get a dx eventually of sensory processing disorder and she has unspecified learning disorders. The neurologist has said she has "autism-like symptoms" but is not autistic. And no, I'm not quite sure what that means.}. She has been through intense therapy, lots of blood tests, eeg, ekg, and other tests. She's seen several specialists. From 2-4 it was a rough road for all of us. She struggles with so much. Which kills me, because honestly she has the biggest heart ever. Her spirit rocks. And I hate seeing her struggle. I hate watching her try and try and try and try again to do things that seem so natural to other kids. And as she gets older we do see less of it. But we do see it. And we are blessed, you probably wouldn't notice anything if you spent the afternoon with us. And I'm thankful for that. But, to get to the point of all my blubbering, for this one night - my little girl was on top of the world! She won some trophies! She did it! It wasn't a struggle for her. And I loved it.

I know, I'm mom, and I'm coming at this from quite the emotional angle. And my emotions tend to run very strong, so I wondered if you know, I was putting too much into this, making too big of a deal. But after we got home and everyone had settled down and celebrated, my 11 year old said she was so proud of her sister for winning the trophies. And it was so nice because she had never won something before. And she deserved it. My heart grew even twice as big.


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