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New Parents Expo – Fun For All Families! October 15-16, 2011

September 27, 2011 Leave a comment

Even though this isn’t specifically geared toward special needs families, I am looking forward to the New Parents Expo taking place October 15 and 16 at Pier 92. This event for expectant and new parents in the New York/Tri-State area is expected to attract 5,000 families over the course of the weekend.

Between its array of products, services and expert help, plus speakers like Dr. Harvey Karp, Dr. Sears and Liz Lange, the New Parents Expo will cover everything from pregnancy to preschool. When I emailed to inquire about the event, I was told that “none of the vendors/exhibitors that will be present deal exclusively with special needs, but many of them surely make products that would be useful to parents who have children with disabilities. Over 80 exhibitors will be in attendance, and one of the main reasons we are hosting this event is so parents can talk with reps from these companies to get advice and share their thoughts–you could raise this exact question and find out which brands really care about special needs products.”

There are too many exhibitors for me to list here, but if you visit www.newparentsexpo.com there are full lists of sponsors, vendors, and speakers (some big names in the lineup, check it out!)

As a special bonus for Foorce readers, to redeem a 20% discount on admission please use code FONPE when checking out online.

Since I have babies, toddlers and special needs children this is definitely worth a look for me. Of course, there is always the issue of childcare – sometimes bringing the kids to these things is a huge hassle. But when I emailed to ask about bringing kids, I was told that “parents can choose for themselves to bring their kids or find a sitter, but we’re designing the show to be as kid-friendly as possible. The Big Apple Circus will be there with face paint, balloons, and other fun stuff, and one of our exhibitors, Tegu, will have a whole play area set up with toys for little ones. Strollers are more than welcome, and there will even be a “pit stop” area where a team will fix broken parts and steam clean them! There will also be a relaxation area for parents to sip a cool drink and rest their feet.”

Sounds good to me! But, alas, not for James. Key words being “circus” and “balloons.” So I will be there, babies in tow, while James has a nice day out with grandma. Hope to see you there, but if you can’t make it you know I will be back with the scoop (eventually, some night at 3am).

Central Park Challenge Recap and Photos

So here is one of my first posts with photos (took long enough, right?), all of them borrowed from the YAI website so far. I want to make sure to share as much of the experience with you as possible – it was that good!

To the left are James and his friend Will – they were standing along the finish line to cheer on our team members in the 5K run. And James is shamelessly posing with our team sign. We had to write our sign by hand for the second year in a row because they “corrected” our premade one to say “The Force,” with only 1 “o.” Well I never….

As usual it was an amazingly fun time (despite some trouble getting coffee in the wee hours). Our runners went first and all did well. My little brother beat his big brother’s record from last year, and one of our runners placed first in her division – go Kim!

As you can see from the pictures, we really did take anyone onto our team (our team’s dog was not the only one in a walk shirt, either) .

We knew better what to expect this year, including how slowly the walk would move with such a huge crowd participating, so I was less impatient this time around (and less pregnant). And, the weather was really perfect for the occasion – mid-70s and sunnyish – so we weren’t moving slowly and cooking like last year.

After the walk was the Jr. American Races. My 2- year old showed up late (the walk really does move slowly) so she raced in the 4 yr old division but since everyone got a medal she was thrilled anyway.

We had a lovely BBQ picnic at a nearby playground afterward (lovely except for the giant raccoon casually sauntering up to people) and said our goodbyes. All of that fun and it was only 1 o’clock!

 

Yep, you should have been there. Maybe next year! The Foorce raised $1100 this year, which was only a drop in the bucket of the $1.6 million raised overall! We almost doubled our team size from last year, a trend I would very much like to see continued. For more details about the Central Park Challenge on June 4th and a lot more pictures from the big day, click here.

We’ll definitely be back for third helpings next June. There is nothing in the world that makes me feel less alone and more inspired than watching thousands of runners, walkers, men, women and children (and dogs) get together and pay tribute to a common cause, especially one so close to my heart. It really helps me keep things in perspective when I see how many people are going through the same thing we are in one way or another. Yet we were all able to be there and we were all there to celebrate – amazing! Regardless of our abilities, we had a lot in common and a lot to be proud of on Saturday.

Go Team Foorce! (still looking for a team photo to insert here, hint hint)

Weekend update and a look at what’s coming

The weekend was so packed that I am too exhausted for a clever title, let alone a post that will do justice to any of the weekend events. But here is a quick sneak peak at the posts that are in the works for the week once I take a night to catch up on my much-needed sleep (it does happen once in a while):

What The Other Kids Are Saying and Thinking About Your Special Needs Child – Inside Scoop – a recap of my meeting at James’s school, where I had the chance to speak with his 4th grade class and answer their questions for an hour.

Central Park Challenge Recap – will tell you all about our awesome team and the great time we had, plus the total amount of $ we raised and some fun pictures from the big day!

Counting My Blessings at St. Patrick’s – the confirmation service for special needs people today was a wonderful event, made even more so by observing the other families around me.

First Meetings for The Foorce Summer Social Group – the more fun summer version of our school year meetings are finally being scheduled!

My Daughter is a Foorce to Be Reckoned With – a post regarding my toddler’s changing role in James’s day-to-day life.

There will also be announcements regarding special needs swim lessons (free!), Manhattan reimbursement funds and meetings regarding the new IEP format in each borough. Plus, James is going back to school tomorrow, blissfully unaware that anything unusual happened last week (see Dirty Laundry) – I am super nervous for him but cautiously optimistic. The current plan is to publish at least one post each day this week. That is, of course, if nothing else exciting happens (fingers crossed!).

There’s still time to join The Foorce on Central Park Challenge Eve!!

I know you are probably wondering how the meeting went today (see Dirty Laundry post) – I plan to tell all when things aren’t so chaotic but right now I want to make sure I get one last plug in for the Central Park Challenge, which is finally upon us!

To recap: This is one of my favorite things. Last year was the first year we tried something like this, and being 6 months pregnant with a toddler and a disabled child in tow I was a little nervous. I am so glad we did it – we had an awesome team and the whole day was really fun. Some of us did the run (NOT me) and another group of us did the walk, which started shortly afterward. There was also a child area with races, games, and face painting, and lots of free giveaways. Seeing the huge crowds of people gather for the same cause was truly touching and motivating.

This year we have an even bigger team – it looks like 20+ of us so far. The event is open to all ages – my 8 month old, 2 yr old and 10 yr old will all be joining us in the walk and my 2 yr old is also going to try the junior races later in the morning. I hope you will consider walking or running with us – it’s exercise while supporting a truly worthy cause, a great way to start off any Saturday. Here is our team page – http://support.yai.org/site/TR/Events/CPC2011?team_id=14203&pg=team&fr_id=1090 – scroll down until you see the list of team members and click Join Team to join us.  The more the merrier!

Upon joining I will email you with details on where to meet up with our team. You can also come to the park between 9:00 and 11:00 AM to find the crowds and cheer us on – we start by the Bethesda Fountain (enter at 72nd). I would LOVE to see a couple of “Go Foorce” signs out there! Or, if you can’t be there but would like to support our efforts, there is a Support The Foorce button too. Any donation, even $1, makes a difference toward our goal!

I plan to win the walk for my division – Moms Wearing Two Children.

5 K to run, 4 days ahead, 3 K walk, 2 parks we must be, and a very busy weekend ahead

Okay, before reading on, take a second and sing from “5 golden rings down to the partridge in a pear tree” using the text from the title – makes much more sense now, I know. It was actually pretty easy to figure out but I ran out of character space when I tried the title from 10 drummers drumming so there it is.

Moving on, the weekend ahead is busy enough to be intimidating, but also full of fun stuff. And some not fun stuff. Kicking off with tomorrow’s meeting at James’s school (see my Dirty Laundry post for details).

Followed by the Central Park Challenge on Saturday (see multiple posts or click the link to join, already!) – we surpassed our fundraising goal and have over 20 people on our walk and run teams. Our team name is The Foorce – creative, I know. (At least the last sentence wasn’t a fragment.) In any case, it will be loads of fun but a very early start to the day.

Sunday James is making his confirmation in a special ceremony for disabled people at St. Patrick’s Cathedral. Another awesome event, another early morning. Another fragment (it’s late!). Also Sunday is our usual special needs baseball game at Riverside Park.

Monday James will return to class if all goes well tomorrow. Despite my trepidation about the students, the teachers and administration have been nothing but supportive and sympathetic so I am cautiously optimistic that it will be okay.

Tuesday, after I update all of you as to how everything went I plan to sleep for a week! Wait, James has a half day at school…. never mind.

 

Thefoorce.com’s first survey is here!

I would be very grateful if you would take my first ever foorce.com survey – it is on the right sidebar under Click Here.

It will help me to decide which directions to pursue first as this site grows, and will hopefully help you in the process!

Your input is extremely valuable to me, and anonymous – please answer what questions you can and spread the word to others in the special needs community. Thanks in advance for your time and effort!

PS – There will also be a weekly poll to the right – after you vote you can see the results. Polls will often be related to a recent or upcoming post.

Since we’re still here…

I’ll tell you about what we actually did this past weekend.

Friday I took all 3 kids to a party after James got out of school. It was at the kids’ club where my daughter takes ballet and gymnastics, some Friday Family fun night they have every other week. It was supposed to be for ages 6 months to 6 years but I explained my situation with James to the manager and very sweetly she said he could come too.

I was a little nervous bringing him, though I couldn’t put my finger on why. I am comfortable discussing James’s disability and am an open book re: his diagnosis and special needs. He is also very well behaved for the most part and loves to play with younger children – it should all work out, right?

I think it was the other kids. Adults have a filter when discussing your very tall, obviously way too old to be here, talkative, anxious, disabled child. Most of them know what to say, what is okay to ask about, and most importantly, what not to say (“Um, is there a reason your son is hiding behind the pillar crying while Roly Poly Guacamole plays the guitar and sings Baa Baa Black Sheep?” or “Hey, I think your son is crying again because that toddler threw a ball near him.”) Kids generally haven’t developed a filter yet, which can be refreshing until you’re at the NY Kids Club trying to “protect” your 10 yr old from some pipsqueak who is calling him mean because “he is playing with all of the red balls out of the ball pit and he won’t let me throw them back in the ball pit” and not using an indoor voice and his nanny is on her cell phone looking at you like “Hey, take care of it- your much older kid is the problem” and all you want is for the pipsqueak to stop talking so loudly and for James to stop whimpering about “he took my ball” so that you can make sure your toddler isn’t going to flip right off of the trampoline she is jumping on with reckless abandon across the room.

Then, Roly Poly Guacamole played. Two guys with a bass and a guitar singing lots of kids’ songs – my daughter adored them and sang and danced right up front the entire time. The lead singer reminded me of Jack Black from School of Rock, a movie James likes a lot, so I thought he would probably be okay for the “concert,” a.k.a. 30 minute rendition of childrens’ songs with 1 tiny little amp, 2 guys with guitars and about 20 kids and their caretakers. Not exactly Madison Square Garden.

Nope. One song in, I think it was “Itsy Bitsy Spider,” and I look over to see James silently but dramatically crying about 3 feet away from the bass guitarist and about 6 inches away from pipsqueak #2 who is pointing James out to his mom and drawing the attention of the performers as well. I whispered to James that he could sit in the back with a book (“No, that’s not allowed!”) or wait in the waiting room 10 feet away (“But Mom, it’s too far!”) if the music was upsetting him. James opted for taking the fetal position behind a pillar about 2 feet away and occasionally peeking out to make sure I knew he was still crying about each song, especially the ones where they had to jump up and yell “Yeehaw!” as loud as they could. My 2 year old remained blissfully oblivious to James’s distress and my 7 month old nursed and slept through the whole thing.

The second the music ended, James hopped up with a smile and said “That music was good. I had fun. I’m ready for pizza!” and walked to the pizza room with the other kids. In the pizza room, which serves as a dance studio during business hours, there were 3 tables set up with slices of pizza and tiny little chairs. Great, I thought, where is James going to sit without feeling awkward or nervous? Next to my daughter, of course. My gentle giant sat with all of the teeny tiny 1 and 2 year olds on a teeny tiny chair at a teeny tiny table and ate his slice of pizza, completely oblivious to the fact that he was the biggest by a solid 75 pounds and 7 years.

Saturday my husband was home, which is a rare occurrence lately, so we started the day off plus one for the good guys. We ended up at the “beach” at South Street. Here my toddler ran wild in the sand, trying to steal other children’s toys or share handfuls of sand with adults drinking very expensive drinks from clear plastic cups on those white “couches” on the “beach.” Here was James’s chance to shine! He lay in the sand with some modified sand toys – a plastic teething ring, a small rubber hippo, and a brio train with a tiny wooden bucket – and played contentedly for the entire time, only pausing from his bliss to tell us when his sister threw sand in his hair, twice. Wait, thrice. Later, we toured the Peking (the ship next to the mall) and then took James and Margaret to the Ice Cream Truck. I guess we haven’t gone very much this season, because James must have thanked Ryan and I about 30 times before his cone was gone.

Funny thing on Saturday: around 5:50pm we were headed home, coincidentally around The 6pm End of The World, when it suddenly got dark and windy. Did anyone else on the UWS notice that? I bet you were thinking hard about your lists right around then and wishing you had knocked off a few items. We didn’t do my list, but we did get some sand time and good food in there for good measure!

Sunday was baseball at Riverside and of course, the DMF concert I have been writing about for the last 2 months! The concert deserves its own post, and will get one with audio/video highlights as soon as I download “Hershey Love” on itunes and figure out how to share it with all of you. But, long story short for now, it was Awesome (no thanks to some very whiny babies). It was also awesome to see some friendly faces at the 4pm show! I also heard very good things about the 1pm show, especially “Luck Be a Lady” and the Wizard of Oz cast!

I hope you enjoyed some nice weather over the weekend! My blog got a much higher than usual number of hits this weekend, and I couldn’t figure out why until I saw the search terms – about 40 varieties of “end of the world” put into Google.

DMF Concert today at 1 and 4pm!! Hope you can join us!!

I bet that you would have more fun at this concert than anything else you could do today (unless you are on a vacation somewhere tropical or at a spa). It’s not too late to join us! There are a few seats left at the 4pm show, and more left at the 1pm concert today. All of the information and how to reserve tickets can be found in the invitation from the Trush family, copied below:
To our friends,

Hope all is well!

You are cordially invited to join us on Sunday, May 22nd at The Dalton School, 108 East 89th St. (between Lexington and Park Ave.) for one or both of our Music Celebration concerts – 1:00PM-2:30PM and/or 4:00PM-5:30PM.  Our theme for this semester is “Give Our Regards to Broadway – A Musical Celebration.”  Each show will have eleven different performances and will also include a video clip of our Member Leadership Program. We will be performing songs from Guys and Dolls, The Lion King, Mary Poppins, The Sound of Music and Cats, among others, and our members will be introducing props into their songs as well, for the very first time. Should be a wonderful day!

We look forward to having you join us. Please RSVP if you will be able to attend by using Eventbrite – dmfspring2011.eventbrite.com or if you prefer, contact us at daniels@danielsmusic.org or at 212.289.8912.

Help us spread the word and fill both shows (seat capacity 400 at each show), by inviting your family/friends to join us (just let us know so that we can keep track of the number of attendees)! As always, many thanks for being part of the DMF community!

Warm regards,

Daniel, Ken, Nancy and Mike

You can check out http://www.danielsmusic.org for video clips from past concerts. I’ll be there with Ryan and all of the kids (4pm) so make sure to find me and say hi if you’re able to make it. Hope to see you there!