Thursday, September 4, 2014

Goodbye Summer; Hello School

After our New York and South Carolina trips we spent the rest of the summer traveling back and forth between Little Rock and Monticello where we spent time with Natalie's Arkansas grandparents.  Below is a picture of Natalie touching the tooth of an alligator at a Monticello bank.  It was her idea to pose like this.
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We also made a visit to Natalie's old school where she enjoyed seeing some of her old friends.
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Sissy came for a visit and the three of us drove to Louisville Arkansas to visit my 96 year old grandmother.  It was a very wonderful, special time.
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We also made a visit to the zoo where Natalie got to see her very favorite "animal” - an owl. 
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We enjoyed riding on the new zoo train.
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...and the carousel 
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Since we were traveling for 90% of the summer, Katie and Louie had been staying at Newfoundland Doggie Camp.  Natalie was so excited to have them home (so was I :-). She was especially thrilled to be reunited with her best buddy Louie.
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Soon it was time for orientation night at Natalie's new school.  We were both happy to find out that four of her best friends from her old school were in her class.  photo IMG_0191.jpg

Dinner with more wonderful friends, Donna and Mitch
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Natalie was nervous, but brave when I dropped her off for her first day at her new school.  The little fashionista wasn't thrilled about having to wear a uniform, but she was rockin' it anyway. I stayed for a bit and watched through an observation window. The students sat on a carpet on their assigned seats (Natalie was lucky enough to be between two classmates from her old school.) As the introduction to the class was going on one of Natalie's classmates mentioned her grandparent recently died. Natalie raised her hands next and then told the group that her Daddy died. She was very matter of fact about it. We still talk about Gary almost every day and regularly watch videos of him and Natalie together. Even though death is a complicated subject Natalie seems to grasp the fact that her Daddy's love lives on. There is a children's book about this called "Always By My Side" that Natalie frequently asks to read.

Natalie's new school is absolutely fantastic.  Natalie has been going for almost 3 weeks now and she is very happy there.  Her teachers are wonderful!  

Natalie was recently tested for both Physical and Occupational Therapy. She still qualifies for both so she will continue to receive PT and OT for another year. Natalie barely qualified in PT, so I am certain that this is her last year of that. She started back in swimming lessons recently and will start dance class next Monday. She is going to a new dance school and will learn ballet, tap and jazz (all in a one hour class). I predict that the combination of PT, swimming and dance will help Natalie's gross motor skills catch up to age appropriate levels very soon. OT is going to take more time and a lot more work. Natalie's fine motor skills are still severely delayed. However, both of her therapists are amazed by the progress she has made. She is great about paying attention and working hard. I am very proud of her. Next on Natalie's agenda: Dancing With the Stars. She asks me every day how many more days until her favorite show starts.