Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Weekend Recap

Last weekend was definitely more low-key than the one before, but we did manage to have some fun in Brooklyn!

In the morning I went on a walk through the neighborhood to clear my head. Meanwhile, Will took the kids on a walk! I walked to the edge of Bay Ridge near the bridge and sat down on a bench to read and write. It was so refreshing!

Afterwards, I went to Israel's IEP and it was a big success! I'll write more soon about Israel's school and therapy... but I'm really proud of myself for standing up for him and being bold in the meeting.

Friday night we went to the splash pad at Owl's Head Park.

Then we enjoyed the "Summer Stroll on 3rd" where 3rd street was blocked off and people could walk around and there were some booths set up. Restaurants had tables in the street and we got some cheap pizza before we headed home. We even saw a knock-off Mickey and Minnie!

Saturday: We went to the Brooklyn Children's Museum for their "I-Can Kid Abilities Day" where there were special exhibits for kids with special needs. I was really impressed with their itinerary of events, but we only got to enjoy the dance party and bubbles that were special events. Israel LOVED the dance party and the workers gave him a lot of attention! He used his walker and he had a blast.

Saturday night I got to hang out with my childhood best friend's sister! Keri watched me grow up and she has two awesome daughters and a hilarious husband (who was also around when I was a kid!). Seeing Keri and Joel and the kids was really refreshing to me, we had a fun dinner out and then they did a little shopping in Bay Ridge.

Sunday: Church went great, and the kids were happy in church the whole time! :) Makes me proud! After their nap we took the kids to the bakery around the corner where they got a cookie, and then Will went to visit another church in the city.

It was a nice weekend as a family!

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Learning from Israel

Israel has been making some tremendous milestones in the last month. It is really humbling to think about, and it has all been so, so, so long anticipated!

He has said several new words: train, clock, neck, cat, and others. He's started to cruise along furniture. He's pulling up frequently (not all the way to stand, but to his knees).

I'm so excited for these things, as we have been in therapy for years (literally, three years this July!). He's going to be 4 in October and as the gap widens between him and his peers, it makes my heart ache more and more. I am so glad that he's becoming more verbal and that he is gaining independence.

Two weeks ago we connected with a new therapy group, called Sensory Freeway, in Bay Ridge. It's a 12 block walk but he is attending therapy on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 3-4. I'm so thankful for this outlet, as we can tell a difference in him already. Also, it seems like an emotional/physical "reset" for him. I can tell that he is doing better afterwards.

But I have to be honest... it's still really hard. Never have I doubted my abilities to be the best mom for Israel since moving to New York a few weeks ago. I don't have my support system in place yet. I miss the days that Israel went to UCP for daycare twice a week! I feel emotionally and physically exhausted because I have very few breaks from him, and he's very difficult sometimes. We've moved his toddler bed into our room because his sleeping issues have been so difficult, that it's easier for me to be a few feet away from him. I feel guilt for wanting a break, and anger for not knowing how to handle him or myself on the really hard days. I feel stuck sometimes - trapped in my house because it's hard to go out and my child is so unpredictable in public.

So... on the days where Israel says a new word, or smiles the whole time he's on a subway train, or laughs with his sister as they play happily together in our apartment... those things are God's sweet gifts to me. Watching him cruise along furniture was the boost I needed to go on... to keep walking those blocks to therapy, to keep trying to push him in my own little version of therapy at home. Those little moments that speak to my heart saying, "you can do this! it's worth it!"

Honestly I'm still counting down until September when Israel will start pre-k, and it will be easier. But on the good days, in the easy moments, I'm so thankful that this story is much bigger than what I can see. These hard moments and days where I just want to (and sometimes do) lock myself in the bathroom and hide from my little people, they are shaping me and my kids. We're becoming stronger and growing through this.  

Sunday, July 12, 2015

Week & Weekend Recap: One on One Dates, Coney, Manhattan & McKinley Park!

What a week/ weekend!!

This week Israel had therapy twice a week - on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 3-4. It's about a 12 block walk from our apartment, which might be around 15-20 minutes depending on how many red lights you hit.

Other highlights from the week: Wednesday night we had a date night!! We went to the library and got library cards, then went to dinner at Blue Agave, and walked to the pier and watched the sunset!

Thursday: I took Israel to therapy, and then we strolled home, going by a fresh fruit stand and 5 Guys for french fries. Meanwhile, Will took Edith to IKEA. He didn't buy anything, but just explored with Edith. She had the time of her life testing out all of the furniture, and they ate dinner there.

Friday: After the kids' nap time in the afternoon, we decided to take the train to Coney Island. Israel got to ride three rides, we took a walk on the boardwalk, and then went to the beach. Israel LOVED Luna Park, where the rides were. He looked like a typical kid among his peers, just enjoying the ride and grinning so big everytime he saw us waving at him. It made my heart so happy.

When we went to the beach, we were happy to see a sprinkler area and a playground. Some big kids were kind of scaring Israel, so we decided to take the kids down to the water to see how they liked it. The last time we went to the beach, Israel was a toddler and Edith was in my belly! Israel didn't love the beach, but Edith LOVED IT. She loved the sand, loved crashing in the waves, and wanted to wade down to where the big kids were. She was absolutely fearless and it was exhausting to be the parent in charge of her!!

We decided to leave the beach, and that was a little complicated. Edith sobbed and ran back to the water when we took her life jacket off. Israel fought getting his clothes changed because he was sandy. Finally we wrestled Edith and gave her a paci. We headed back to the boardwalk where we saw all kinds of knock-off characters like Mickey, Elsa, and Batman.

We finished the night with some Nathan's Famous hotdogs (we got our hot dogs free thanks to a sweet old man with a coupon!). We did a photo booth picture for our annual picture!

The train ride back was peaceful and we vowed to return this summer! Coney was only 45 minutes away and so much fun!

Saturday: In the morning Will took the kids on a long walk. I was able to get some cleaning done around the house and have a moment alone!! :)

After nap time we decided to be adventurous again since Friday went so well. We took the train into Union Square, walked around, ate dinner outside, and then went by Washington Square Park. Israel was SOO mad that he couldn't play in the water sprinklers. I posted this picture of him scooting online, and it is a total misrepresentation of that event. He was actually chanting "No! No!" as he moved because he was trying to find his way back to the water. Edith had a meltdown because she couldn't get on the swings, and then we finally decided to just move on. We walked to Times Square so I could get Israel this Mickey t-shirt that I wanted him to have, and it was chaos to walk through with a stroller! We saw a fun breakdancing group on our way back to the subway, which Israel loved. All in all it was a decent trip, although Friday was much better!

Sunday: I was able to sit IN the service!!! Praise hands!!! It was really nice to attend worship and hear my husband preach. I'm so excited about our church. Meanwhile, in nursery, the workers let Edith take a nap in the stroller, which solved her weekly meltdown issue.

Edith didn't take another nap in the afternoon, so I got to have really fun play time while Will and Israel napped.
After they woke up we headed to McKinley Park, which is just about 6 blocks from us. It has a splash pad, which Israel was glued to, and a lot of obstacles for Edith to conquer. She thinks she is 10 years old. She loved to go down the fire pole and going down the biggest slide.

Writing this out exhausts me! It was a really fun but really busy weekend. I'm so thankful when our family of four can make memories together!

Wednesday, July 8, 2015

NYC: One Month In!

It's hard to believe that it was one month ago that we moved from Alabama and started our NYC chapter. It has been an eventful month, from visiting family to having our first set of visitors here! Will is settling in to his role as lead pastor of Crossroads Christian Church. We're finishing up the to-do list of things that are required from a move to a new state, and the house is 99% set up.

A lot of people have asked about how the kids are adjusting. I really appreciate the prayers for them, because we can tell that they are effective. In fact, several times I have posted a prayer request on social media and I have clearly felt the Lord's presence and we have heard specific answers quickly. So... thank you! We know these prayers are being heard.

The kids are doing AMAZING!! It's so cool to see how resilient they are. They have generally been very happy. Our apartment is smaller than our former house, but it is almost like they have MORE play space now because they have access to their bedrooms (their rooms were on the 2nd floor at Yellouise and we hardly played in there). They love going from room to room.

Israel has been a little obsessed with sitting in Edith's crib and searching for Mickey Mouse (Kickey Mo). He LOVES looking out the window at the cars going by. He has still had sleep issues, and we moved his toddler bed into our bedroom. That has saved me from walking back and forth through the apartment at night, and he seems to be sleeping better close to us.

Israel has made some remarkable growth in the last few weeks. He has said several new words: clock, neck, where'd you go, STOP!, pool, and a few others I can't remember. He's been playing better than normal - he will sometimes be content playing alone, ha! In general when we have visitors over he still demands constant attention and interaction. We just got his therapy lined up for the summer and I'm really thankful that he will get a physical "reset" button twice a week when he has PT and OT.

Edith has been the same sweet girl. She hasn't skipped a beat with sleeping well and exploring. She loves every park and place we've been. She has been worn in the Ergo a good bit but she's also happy in the stroller. She has had a few toddler meltdowns but we have relied on the paci out more than we ever did in Alabama. She has been consistent in that she still doesn't really like to be enclosed in church nursery. We had a major meltdown last week that was really exhausting for everyone in the church nursery room... so I ended up coming home early. Church meets during her nap time so when she's a little older I'm hoping this won't be so difficult.

We are really enjoying exploring Bay Ridge and other parts of Brooklyn. There's several parks in our neighborhood and most of them have slash pad areas, which Israel really loves. We have a Dunkin Donuts, grocery store, laundromat, Starbucks and many other restaurants and stores within one block of our apartment.

I'm getting in the groove. I've ordered more things online than ever before, including groceries. I have started to figure out groceries and laundry and just have to manage my expectations. Getting out of the house is a bit complicated. Typically I take the stroller downstairs to the lobby, then make two more trips bringing the kids down one by one (we have a locked lobby). This has been a little intimidating and there are days I talk myself out of going places because it takes effort. I really miss drive-thru places (especially Sonic!). I've walked way more in the last few weeks than I normally would.

I'm putting myself out there to make friends. This season is always just a little awkward. I've cried some because I miss the comfort of friends that know your heart and conversation is easy and there is a history. Starting over is never easy, but it requires just putting yourself out there and making play dates or planned activities necessary. I've met some wonderful people already and we know that having a NYC "family" will happen in time.

We're really excited about raising the kids in the city. Every other city mom I talk to can't imagine raising her kids any other way. I do miss Suburban life some, especially my friends and our church. I really miss having college students a quick phone call away to hang out with! Several friends are already planning trips up here, which makes my heart really happy.

I anticipated that this transition would be hard. Going from Alabama to Brooklyn is a huge contrast. But we are going to just keep pressing forward, digging down until we have roots here too. Soon enough this will feel like home, and these people will be our family! We're excited about that happening and starting this chapter of our life here. 
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