Saturday, September 17, 2016

Labor Day

We had a really lovely, outdoorsy Labor Day. In the morning Will went to the office for a little while, and my neighbor Mary and I took the kids on a walk to the Narrows Botanic Garden in our neighborhood. Israel was pretty obsessed with her dog, and Edith loved exploring the garden. She wanted to climb the trees like another kid and she loved picking up sticks. We played with sidewalk chalk, a ball, bubbles and the tiny trike. It was fun and the weather was nice!

That afternoon our family went to Prospect Park. We walked around a little while and ended up at the Drummer's Circle, which is a family favorite spot for us! Israel LOVES drums and any music. There were some gracious performers and one woman was an educator who recognized that Israel had some special needs. She let him beat on her drum for a bit, which made his day!

All in all it was a perfect day spent outside. I've really missed being outside so much this summer since I can't take the kids by myself much (I'm not supposed to lift them). I'm thankful for opportunities to go with Will or friends to help! 

Friday, September 16, 2016

NY Aquarium Visit

Back in July we decided to visit the NY Aquarium in Coney Island. Our one-year zoo membership was about to expire and we wanted to visit the aquarium while it was still free!  Both the kids love water and fishies (and Edith is weirdly obsessed with sea lions). We thought it would be a great outing!

This is one of those days where you have to have a plan B and low expectations as a special needs family. It just wasn't what we hoped it would be.

Edith loved the fish, but Israel just wasn't having it.

We tried letting him listen to music for a little while but he still really spazzy and upset.

We really liked the shark tank! Pretty cool! Most of the aquarium is still under renovation from Hurricane Sandy.

We did manage to get a great family shot in the photo booth!

We finally decided that Will would take Israel to go look at the above ground trains, while I took Edith to the sea lion show. Even that was short-lived because she was a little bored and tired at that point.

I'm glad we at least got to see the aquarium while we had our membership, but it was definitely a hard day. Both kids had their meltdowns and we just had to set aside the picture-perfect dream that I had in my head. Such is life with kids!

Thursday, September 15, 2016

Israel PreK Graduation from UCP

 Back in late June we were invited to Israel's preschool, the United Cerebral Palsy center of Brooklyn. They hosted a pre-K graduation ceremony that was absolutely beautiful!

Each class paraded into the auditorium and presented a song onstage. Israel's class sang "The Wheels on the Bus" and it was so cute! He loves that song. Right before his class went onstage, his teachers put on a yellow bus shirt and he was REALLY distracted by the shirt. He couldn't participate in the song because he was so focused on his bus!! His occupational therapist, Malka, helped him walk into the auditorium and on the stage. She tried to get him to participate but he just couldn't let go of his bus shirt! I've never seen him have stage fright in any capacity so I think he was just concerned that the bus might fall off his shirt.

The room was decorated with stars holding the graduate's faces. The theme was "blast off" into kindergarten, I think!

When Israel saw us he couldn't stop cheesing over at us and waving. It was so cute, we were so proud!!

Israel on stage: 

One thing that Will and I enjoyed about the graduation ceremony was the joy and pride of all of the parents. All of the kids in the ceremony have disabilities. Some kids couldn't participate, required lots of help, were having trouble being there, etc. But these parents (us included) could have been watching our kids graduate Harvard. Seeing our kids sing and participate with peers is a dream. Celebrating the huge milestones accomplished in pre-K was a uniting factor for us. It was beautiful and one of those "why me?" moments where we felt so humbled and grateful to be in this community of special needs parents. 

These pictures weren't taken at the ceremony but here are two of Israel's pre-K therapists. His PT Chaya was WONDERFUL and I really appreciated that she sent me regular updates about Israel's progress.

His OT Malka truly seemed to care for Israel and was always so excited for him and sweet with him. 

Israel's pre-K bus team was awesome. They always welcomed him and cheered for him.  He loved riding the bus!

Our pre-K experience was wonderful at UCP. I was really sad and teary on the last few days of school because it was saying good-bye to the UCP organization as a whole. Israel was a part of the UCP organization in Alabama, and was even a poster child one year!  We love UCP and know that we wouldn't have the same story without them in it. The therapists, social workers, teachers and community we gained from this organization has shaped us and helped us in uncountable ways! I'm so thankful for God's provision of the right people at the right time for our special needs journey. I'm thankful Israel had an excellent first year of school in Brooklyn, and that he was able to make so much progress! 

Israel is in kindergarten at a new school now, and I will update soon about that!
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