Thursday, September 26, 2013

No Training Wheels

Dax loves racing down our street.
Yesterday, I took off Dax's training wheels. He was riding his bike and I noticed that he was balancing without the use of his training wheels as I walked behind him. It's been a pretty good trick...Randy puts the training wheels slightly askew so that they slowly learn to balance on their own but they still have the security of the training wheels.

So anyway, I took his wheels off and Dax just took off down the street. I followed him for awhile, but he didn't really need my help. His only hang up is getting started. Dax's toes barely touched the ground, but I lowered his seat and now his feet touch. He is still perfecting starting on his own so every time he stops, I have to walk over and start him again. I hope he figures out how to start on his own soon, but maybe the exercise is good for me.

Everyone on our street was amazed at how fast he was zipping around and Dax was feeling pretty grown up. We surprised Mark and Dad when they got home from school.

It does make Dax look older now. I still think of him as my little boy, but now he is becoming a big boy.

He is a master at turns already.

So proud of himself!
 Here is a short video of Dax riding around for the past two days.

Saturday, September 14, 2013

An Ordinary Hero

Joan's mugshot when she was sent to Death Row in Mississippi

Hey, this is Randy....

Not too many people know that I really love history. I've even stopped listening to music in the car. Instead, I listen to history classes from iTunes university. Maybe it's because my dad was a history teacher before he took up math.

Anyway, tonight was a pretty memorable experience for me, in that I had the chance to meet and talk to a piece of living history. My friend Loki is a filmmaker, and he recently completed a film about his mother, Joan Trumpauer Mulholland. She was an important figure in the Civil Rights movement. She was one of about 40 white Freedom Riders who spent time on death row in Mississippi. She met Dr. King, and most famously sat in at the Woolworth's lunch counter where she was harassed by bigots who put mustard and ketchup in her hair and physically grabbed and pushed her. She was also the first white student in America to attend an all-black college.

Here's a picture of Joan and Martin Luther King, Jr.
The film, called "An Ordinary Hero: The True Story of Joan Trumpauer Mulholland" walks you through Joan's experiences with archival footage interspersed with interviews.

It was amazing to meet and "interview" Joan for myself. I was so excited on the way over I told the boys: "This is like meeting Abraham Lincoln, or Jackie Robinson!" (Maybe a little exaggeration, but not much.) I've been thinking about questions to ask for a few weeks, and I was even a little nervous. First, I asked her if she experienced any reverse racism when she enrolled at Tougaloo, a black women's college. Without thinking, she replied, "No," then she added, everybody knew a white girl enrolled, and there was a lot of buzz about the new white girl, but she was never treated unkindly. (The movie tells about a cross-burning that took place on campus one night).

We didn't get to talk much about Woolworth's (in truth, it was Joan's birthday party I'd been graciously invited to attend, and I shouldn't have been bugging her at all), but she did say she'd been handled pretty roughly. She wasn't hurt. She said that the "order of attack" (her words) was white men first, then black men, then black women, and finally, Southern chivalry kicked in and white women were attacked last. The pictures below are as famous as almost any from the Civil Rights era:
Joan and two other protestor's at the sitting in at the counter at Woolworths.
Joan is facing away from the camera.
This series of pictures shows the protestors being abused as the police look on.
Joan had food dumped on her and was grabbed and thrown down. The gentleman in the picture
had cigarette burns on his back and neck. They refused to react.
Here you see Joan's face a little better.
She told me a story about Stokely Carmichael that doesn't appear in the movie. She talked about how the public perception of Stokely was that he was a militant extremist who hated white people. In the 70s she took her two little boys to see Stokely Carmichael speak. She approached the dais after his remarks only to meet a row of large bodyguards. They told her that Mr. Carmichael wouldn't be talking to her. She waved and caught his eye. He came straight over and pushed past the bodyguards. He embraced her and got down on his knees to meet her boys. I'm sure many eyebrows were raised, but Joan and Stokely were old friends.

Dax came over and I had prepped him to ask Ms. Trumpauer (now Mulholland) a question. He was a little shy, but he did ask if she'd met President Obama. She said she had, and then with a wink at me added, "And then he was on to the next person."

We also talked about Joan's parents reaction to her activism. She said her mother was against it as a Southerner. She didn't understand why Joan wanted to get involved, but they "agreed not to speak about it after awhile." Her father, from Iowa, wanted to see change, but didn't think she was going about it the right way. He believed in "top-down change brought on by the government, not town-to-town change" Joan was working on. But, she said, Brown v. Board of Education was 10 years in the past, and nothing had changed, so top-down wasn't working.

We had to leave early, but I asked one more question: How had she come from the same background as all those Southerners who justified and rationalized racism, and had such a different perception of African-Americans. She said, "I think it was Sunday School." She listened to all those things about how to treat others and how Jesus loves all the children, but she didn't see anybody living that way (Note: Joan is not talking about LDS Sunday school). Then she got to high school and memorized the Declaration of Independence. Nobody seemed to be living that, either, so she decided she would try to live it. That statement seemed pretty impressive to me.

I had a million more questions to ask, about her time on Death Row, about riding the Freedom Buses, and everything in between, but it was, after all, her birthday. To be honest, I found Joan Trumpauer to be, like the title of the movie says, quite ordinary. She seemed just like anyone else I've met. The difference is, she had the courage to stand up and make a difference. That's what makes her a hero.

Some Freedom Rider buses were firebombed in Mississippi.
I was too chicken to ask Ms. Trumpauer to take a photo with me though we talked for nearly an hour. Here's the "ordinary hero" in an uncredited Internet picture:

Joan today

Sunday, September 8, 2013

First Soccer Games

Getting ready to play!
Hey, this is Randy.

Today was the first day of soccer games for both our boys. It was also a step up for both boys. For Mark, he moved into a more advanced league, which features goalies and referees. He has a great coach who has taught him positions, passing, and where to be on the field. For Dax, he is playing soccer for the first time ever. He is in the butterfly league (named by me to describe the large number of children who are chasing butterflies more than soccer balls.)

Dax's game was first, and we were pretty worried that he might be a butterfly chaser. He can be a bit stubborn and whiney at times, so we wondered if he'd just sit down on the field with his arms crossed and demand the ball come to him. He sat for the first rotation and then checked in (the score was still 0-0) and promptly scored a goal. We were super excited and so was he. He scored two more before half, and it was 3-0-- or would've been if it hadn't been for the strict "no score-keeping" rule enforced by the butterfly league.

There goes Dax....
In the second half, he sat again, and the other team scored 2 goals. When he checked in, he immediately took over, scoring a goal within 15 seconds. Well, the final "score" (unofficial, of course) was 6-3. Dax scored 6 goals, all for his team (in the butterfly league, that doesn't actually go without saying!) We had to downplay it a bit, and remind Dax that he never has to tell people how good he is, he only has to show them. (Man there is a fine line between raising a self-confident child and an egotistical jerk!)

Mark's game was exciting, too. His team dominated throughout, with the ball on his team's end (near the goal they were defending) for about 10% of the game. The other team only had two shots on goal. On one of them, they had a wide open net when the goalie fell down, but Mark hustled back and slide-kicked the ball out from in front of the goal and out-of-bounds. I actually appreciate plays like that more than scoring plays usually. (Honestly, when you watch Sportscenter which is more impressive, a diving catch or a homerun).

Mark was most excited because he got to be a forward-- in fact the middle forward, if that's a thing. He took three shots on goal and scored one of them. His team won 3-0. It was fun to watch his team (the core of the team is the little tots I coached last year in their final stint in the butterfly league) playing "real" soccer. I sure am glad they have a coach who knows if there's a middle-forward in soccer, though!

Mark getting ready to kick off.

He loves his new uniform.
My videos of Mark didn't turn out--I'll try again next week,

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

A Couple of Firsts

Dax had his first day of preschool this week. He was so excited to go see his teacher and friends from last year. He had a fantastic day and is so excited for the whole year. I let Dax buy a new shirt to wear for the first day of school and he picked this one--it was on sale for like $3, but he was so happy it was about loving pizza. Dax LOVES pizza!

Heading off to preschool...don't worry, I fixed his hair before we left the house.

First day!

Dax also started soccer this year. After watching Mark for three years, he was ready to take the field himself. His first game is on Saturday, but he got new cleats today and wore them the whole day. He also wore his shin guards and big soccer socks all day until I finally told him he needed to cool off--those things are hot. His team name is the Cheetahs which make sense when you see their bright orange uniforms. Dax had so much fun at his first practice. He is definitely a more passive player, but I'm sure as the year goes on he'll start chasing the ball down.
Dax is in red shorts.

Go Cheetahs! 
It's fun when Dax gets to do things on his own because I think he feels like he lives in Mark's shadow a lot, so I'm glad he is big enough to play sports and go to school. Now, I just have Seth living in Mark AND Dax's shadows for the next 3 years.

Playing with dad at soccer practice.

Sunday, September 1, 2013

Fun Friday Night

Happy Family
Sometimes we all just need to get out of the house. I hope that you feel that way too and it's not just me. Friday night was one of those nights. Everyone was getting just a little grouchy, so we talked about lots of different places to spend the evening, but ended up at Thanksgiving Point Gardens. We don't come here very often, but when we do we always enjoy the peaceful atmosphere.

It ended up being eventful for us. We arrived a little after 7:00 and they made sure to remind us that they close at 8:00. We promised them we'd hurry. We couldn't believe our luck as we wandered through the gardens. We spotted a muskrat gathering grass for his nest. We watched him for about 5 minutes as he gathered grass, then jumped down some rocks and swam across the pond into the bushes. We also spotted a large bullfrog.

We fed the fish. WOW! These koi were crazy and obviously used to being fed. We couldn't believe how many there were, but Seth loved it!

We also saw two little cottontails on our way out. I only had my cell phone because I hadn't planned on taking pictures, but I should know better by now. Every night is an adventure in the Ockey family.



The fish

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