One time at blind camp….

We spent last week at VISIONS Center on Blindness (formerly Vacation Camp for the Blind) with Benjamin and had a great time all around. VCB is not too far away from us, but it is on a big piece of property in Rockland county and was a nice break from the city.

The week we were at VCB it was reserved for families with children with visual impairments up to 5 years old and children with multiple disabilities of any age. And while every kid is very different, it was really good for us to meet other parents who understand first hand what it’s like. Other weeks throughout the summer are set aside for older kids and adults, so Ben can look forward to visiting VCB for a long time.

Ben got to play all day, socialize with other kids and go in the pool while Amy and I went to workshops and parents groups (as well as a good amount of just plain relaxing). Each evening the center ran events and even had a couple of parties.

The counselors and the staff at VCB were amazing, wonderful people who could not do enough for the families staying there. You could tell how much they cared about being involved at VISIONS. It really made it special.

We are grateful for the friends we made at VCB and we can’t wait to meet up again. Special thanks to everyone at VISIONS for a great week and to everyone who helps support it, including our regional Lion Clubs.

And now for some cute photos…

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Bedtime for Benjamin

We are very fortunate that Ben is a very good sleeper. He is great about sleeping through the night and wakes at a decent hour. But Ben does not approach sleep gently. He attacks it like a kid at a playground. He thinks bedtime is for acrobatics and leaps across the crib. Here’s just an example of what he does every. night. (and also shows off his new hair cut) <video>

In other news, Ben has been doing well on the food side – not that it still isn’t a struggle to get more food in him than he throws up (a lovely image – I apologize) but he has been easier to feed in general. In fact, he’s now 24 pounds! I know it’s not much for a kid who’s more than 2 years old – but for us, it’s wonderful. In fact – it puts him at the 6th percentile for weight. That’s solidly on the chart.

Ben also had a great time with his best buds, Jack and Jerome, this Independence Day – splashing and laughing. They also took a trip to the Brooklyn Children’s Museum – which was a bit much for Ben, but we’ll be back.

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Old Mc Benjamin went to a Farm

ei-ei-o

One of the workshops that Joe and I attended at the Perkins Early Connections Conference involved the idea of concept building. Concept building is important for all children, but needs to be done more explicitly for those with visual impairments.

For example, a sighted child getting a cup of milk sees the parent go the refrigerator, get the milk, get a cup, pour the milk into the cup and bring the cup to them. They also see the cow-print or farm scene on the milk carton. On the other hand, Ben gets a cup of milk magically appear in front of him. We have to tell him where we keep the milk, how we pour it into the cup and where milk comes from. As we don’t have a cow in our apartment, we have to make do with apps such as Sound Touch that have realistic animal sounds (Sound Touch also has instruments, automobiles, and household objects) and plastic models of the cow. Anyone who has ever seen a cow knows that a plastic model, though visually like a cow, is a far cry from the actual animal.

So our first trip to a farm was exciting- seeing real animals! This is the first step for Ben to understand what they feel like, sound like, and smell like before understanding that sometimes, um, we eat them too. We are planning on visiting Queens Zoo and Queens Farm, NY Aquarium the Bronx Zoo as well this summer and fall, so hopefully we’ll have a lot of opportunities to have a variety of real world experiences.

It was also a lovely day to spend with Aunt Chrissie and Kaia, who were up from North Carolina, and see Gram and ACA! We all had a great time!

Boy and his aunt walk in a greenhouse

Little boy reaching out towards a goattwo toddlers with two adults touching a cow Little boy petting a sheep

Perkins Early Connections

Amy, Ben and I drove up to Boston this past weekend for the Early Connections conference at Perkins School for the Blind. The event is centered around educating parents of visually impaired children up to 7 years old. It was really wonderful to meet other parents who have similar stories and meet their kids. One of my favorite sessions was a panel of visually impaired and blind teenagers who were about to go to college talking about how their parents helped make them independent by treating them like any other kid – making them do chores, not coddling them, not having lowered expectations. Watch out Ben — looking forward to you doing the laundry!

They also had tables set up from different organizations and vendors showing off their accessible gear. During the conference Ben got to have fun while his folks were learning with a full scheduled day with the other kids.

Perkins was a beautiful campus and has amazing facilities. I wish we had something like it in New York City. But of course we were so busy we never even took a picture – so I have nothing to share today.

We also had a nice visit with our Boston friends. We will be back again, so maybe pictures next time!

Benjamin’s Adventures

So besides the walking thing, Benjamin has been a busy little guy travelling all over the place and having adventures. We’ll quickly bring you up to speed:

First (way back in February) – Ben went on his very first plane ride (that was not a flying ambulance) and visited New Orleans.

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Benjamin did great on the plane, but wants to go first class next time

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There was always lots going on in Jackson Square

Ben on steps

Ben gives himself a round of applause

Next he returned to North Carolina in March for our annual spring break trip to the Outer Banks (with a short stop visiting friends in Virginia) 

Ben on the slide

Ben loved the slide

Ben and Clavin hugs

Ben got lots of love from his buddies in OBX

ben in chair

This chair is enormous – but Ben is still small

Ben on swing

Swings are almost as fun as slides

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Jack and Ben play with Play Doh

Then Ben got his very first haircut (that was not done by a nurse)

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A little off the top, Carlos.

Ben got in his first 2013 Mets game (they won)

Ben at MEts Game

Let’s go Mets!

Then just last weekend took a quick roadtrip to Montreal for some yummy food.

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Canada is a little chilly

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Ben and Dad out in Montreal

Of course not pictured during these adventures is about five colds, lots of puke, crying by all involved and a total of 34+ hours in cars (just for full disclosure).

Ok I think we are caught up now… we can get back to timely updates (including exciting Ben news in the next post)

Baby no more: Birthday Boy Benjamin

It’s Benjamin’s birthday today! I remember right after Ben was born and things were moment by moment, when we watched for the clock to hit 1:04 the next day so we could celebrate 24 hours – thinking about two years was so far from our thoughts that finding ourselves here already is disorienting.

To be honest, last year it felt a little strange on Ben’s birthday celebrating the anniversary of our scariest day ever. Yes- we were celebrating the whole year since he was born, but February 7 2011 was a rough rough day (Again so much thanks to Carol for her amazingness). But this year it feels so much better. It’s 100% celebration this year!

Ben will be spending the weekend with us and family and friends to celebrate his special day (if the blizzard holds off long enough) but we were able to do a little birthday-ing tonight. Here is some super cute evidence of our two(!) year old.

Benjamin plays with his new abacus

Birthday Present: Abacus! Best. Toy. Ever.

Ben sits at his new table

A table for me? You shouldn’t have!

Ben sits on a rocking chair and looks down at the stuffed bear on his lap

Remember when you were bigger than me?

Ben and his stuffed bear sit laughing on a chair.

That’s hilarious.

Ben sits at his table and feels a basket of felt fruit from Ikea.

Fake fruit. Interesting choice for a present…