"Love me when I least deserve it, because that's when I really need it."
~ Swedish Proverb, from Dr. Robert Melillo's book, "Reconnected Kids"

Sunday, September 16, 2012

My little surfer dudes...

So last Saturday, Surfers For Autism came to Tybee Island. Of course we were there - and this time, both Aidan AND Aeson got to surf! As a bonus, Aidan and I made the local news (which Aidan is pretty sure, now makes us FAMOUS!) Check it out!



Look at how our day began…just beautiful!
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I arrived at the beach at 7am to help Sushi unload and set up for the event.
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Andy brought the boys down at the start of the event - the monkeys were thrilled that Daddy was with us on the beach!
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Aidan was in the very first group to surf, and he was ready to go!
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Aidan and his first AWESOME surf team!
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Then, it was Aeson's turn to surf! Ace was super excited, but a little hesitant to stand. (It didn't help that the water was very rough that morning!)
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When his first session was over, Ace didn't want to get off of the surf board…so his AMAZING surf team picked up the board with Aeson on it, and carried them both up the beach!
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When Aeson got to surf a second time, he looked for the same team and asked them to surf with him again. These guys (and gal) were awesome! Positive and fun, and DETERMINED to get Ace to stand up and really SURF!
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SUCCESS! Ace was SO proud of himself!

Many thanks to Johnny, Patrick and Shannon - Ace's AWESOME surf team!
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The boys surfed ALL day long - every time it was their turn, they were both ready! Aidan got to surf with Dave and Carolyn, and had such a good time, he asked them to surf with Aeson as well. They had some rad rides - Aidan and Dave rode through a small tube that Aidan is STILL talking about! Wish I had a photo of THAT! My camera battery gave out on me, but I did manage to snap a photo of each of the boys with Dave and Carolyn. Thanks y'all - the boys had a blast!
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I'm really kicking myself for not taking a group photo - we had an awesome group of folks cheering for the boys. Me, Andy, Ashwin, Mimi, Papa, Mema…and look who came down all the way from Virginia to support the boys…
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Paw Paw! Thanks everyone for being part of our special day! We love you ALL!

Fast forward one week…you guessed it - MORE surfing!

Yesterday, Aidan and I headed to Tybee to check out Hot Sushi's 'One Love, One Fin' local surf showdown. We didn't really know what to expect, but I knew we'd have fun. And maybe, Aidan would even get to surf a little too. There was a good turnout of local surfers, and an awesome collection of single-fin vintage surfboards for everyone to use. Sushi was filming the event, but he let Aidan try out one of his boards.

Aidan's first ride on a single-fin vintage surfboard…thanks for the photo, Sushi!
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The problem, unfortunately, was that Aidan's mom did not know what she was doing, trying to help give Aidan a push into the waves. He ate it pretty hard a couple of times. Not wanting to drown the kid, we headed to the beach. (I should note here that Aidan was bummed about leaving the water, but he understood it was for safety and he kept his cool. My, how far we have come!) Back on the beach, Aidan quickly caught on that this event was a sort of competition - and he wanted IN! I told him he couldn't compete because he could not yet surf on his own. (When he surfs with Sushi, Sushi sets him up and kind of pushes him into the waves to get started. There is an art to the push off - i don't have it yet, but I'm working on that!) He was REALLY mad with me because he couldn't compete, and he was DYING to surf. He played with some kids, learning to skim board for a while, and watching the other surfers compete.

Here are the finalists, getting ready to surf. Check out those awesome boards!
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The surfing was SO much fun to watch! I even managed to get at least one shot of each finalist, shredding the waves! Great job, everyone!
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During the competition, Shane (from North Island Surf and Kayak) took pity on Aidan, loaned him a soft top board, and volunteered to help him catch a few waves. (Thanks Shane, you ROCK!) A few minutes later, Aidan thanked Shane and told him he wanted to surf on his own...and he did! For the next hour and a half or so, Aidan paddled out, turned himself around, and caught his OWN waves. First staying very shallow, but getting a little braver (and deeper) with each ride!
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It was AWESOME to watch (and photograph!) I stood on the beach, snapping photos and thinking a favorite line from Dr. Seuss' "Oh! The Places You'll Go!"
"And will you succeed? Yes, you will indeed. 98 3/4 percent guaranteed! Kid, you'll move mountains!"


My strong willed and fiercely determined little man - you make your Mama SO very proud of you every day!

And check out this sunset - perfect ending to an AWESOME day!
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When I finally dragged him out of the water, he said, "Mama, next competition, I WON'T be sitting on the beach watching!" And I know he's right!

Future mountains had better look out for Aidan Pence!

To all the surfers from the last two Saturdays, a big Mahalo from me and Aidan!

Much love,

Allie

Sunday, September 2, 2012

Surfers Healing

Greetings everyone! I know, it's been a while…AGAIN! We've been caught up in the madness of back to school for the last few weeks. I am EXTREMELY happy to report that the first week of school for the big boys was a SMASHING success! Here they are, on the first day of school (2nd Grade for Aidan, and Pre-K for Aeson)
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Aren't my boys handsome? Love those new haircuts too!


And here they are, coming home on the bus, later that same day! (And no, Aidan did NOT fall off the bus!)


Ash starts preschool this week, and we are all very excited! ALL three boys in school, at least for three mornings a week - YAY!

So, I would like to share with everyone Aidan's recent adventure with Surfers Healing, at Folly Beach, SC on August 22, 2012.

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Have you heard of Surfers Healing? Here is the history of Surfer's Healing, taken directly from their website:
Surfers Healing was founded by Israel and Danielle Paskowitz. Their son, Isaiah, was diagnosed with autism at age three. Like many autistic children, he often suffered from sensory overload - simple sensations could overwhelm him. The ocean was the one place where he seemed to find respite.

A former competitive surfer, Israel hit upon an idea--with Isaiah on the front of his surfboard, and Izzy steering from the back, the two spent the day surfing together. Surfing had a profound impact on Isaiah. Israel and Danielle decided they wanted to share this unique therapy with other autistic children. They began to host day camps at the beach where autistic children and their families could be exposed to a completely new experience of surfing.


I could sum up our experience with Surfers Healing with this one photo:
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Look at that smile - I see SO much in that smile. Freedom, peace, pride, and pure JOY! What you can't see and hear from that photo are the surfers and spectators cheering, clapping, and whistling - not just for Aidan, but for ALL of the little surfers in the water. Somewhere around 200 kids had their BEST DAY EVER on Folly Beach, thanks to the quiet determination and giant hearts of everyone involved with Surfers Healing.

And, of course, I have more pictures!

We found out about Surfers Healing through Aidan's surf instructor, Yamada Atsushi (aka Hot Sushi). Sushi volunteers with Surfers Healing, and was thrilled to watch his student show off his mad skills with the pro surfers. Here's Sushi, watching Aidan like a proud papa!
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BEST Buds!
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We arrived at Folly Beach about 10am, and things were just getting started. Having never been to a Surfers Healing event, we didn't really know what to expect (and by the end of the day, we were completely amazed!) Surfers+Healing+Folly+Beach+8 22 12 17


The day started out overcast, but soon became absolutely beautiful!
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We got Aidan signed in, and he was given a group number for surfing and a gift bag. The gift bag had an event T-shirt and some small toys in it. AWESOME! While we waited for Aidan's group to be called to surf, we hung with my girl Blaze (of The Thinking Moms Revolution) and watched her awesome son P tear it up!
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Here is how it works: when your group is called to surf, you head over to the surf station and the Surfers Healing folks take it from there. They fit your surfer with a life vest, and lead them to the water to meet up with their pro surfer. The pro surfers take the kids out in the water, and ride the waves back in to shore. The pros do EVERYTHING possible to give each child the ride of their life - helping them to stand up and surf...
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or picking them up…
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I even saw a couple of surfers with kids on their shoulders.
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AWESOME!

Aidan's pro surfer was Joe, and they headed right out into the water to catch some waves!
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After Aidan's session, lunch was ready. I wish I had taken some pictures - what a tremendous spread of food. ALL donated from local restaurants. And ALL free for the surfers and their families. TONS of fruit, veggies, fried chicken, mac and cheese, cole slaw, pasta salad - everything wasn't Gluten Free, of course, but I was pleasantly surprised with the variety of things that WERE GF. And there were plenty of sponsor tents, offering a selection of snacks for everyone (many of them GF as well). LOTS of water and lemonade to drink - surprisingly, I did not see any soda (which I think is GREAT!)
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During the lunch break, Aidan and I had the extreme pleasure of meeting the founder of Surfers Healing, Izzy Paskowitz. Izzy has a brand new autobiography that just came out called "Scratching the Horizon: A Surfing Life," which he was kind enough to autograph for Aidan. (I've just begun reading it, and I am thoroughly enjoying it so far! Click the picture and pick up a copy for yourself.)
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Izzy took the time to really talk to everyone standing in line to meet him, which was great! Of course, he signed books and posed for photos too.
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Maybe one day, if Aidan's love of surfing becomes his passion, we can send him to surf with Izzy at his family's surf camp. How cool would THAT be??

After lunch, Aidan managed to talk his way into a 2nd surf session with his pro surfer, Joe. This time, Joe helped Aidan surf on his own! You could hear Sushi's whistle all the way down the beach, and Aidan had a BLAST!
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After Aidan's 2nd session, it was time to pack up and head back home. What an AMAZING day!

Surfers Healing offers children on the autism spectrum AND their families a stress-free and overwhelmingly positive day of surfing fun at the beach, at absolutely NO COST. Izzy and Danielle Paskowitz work tirelessly to secure permits for their events, sponsors (to provide equipment, food, raffle items, money, and other donations), professional surfers to donate their time, amazing volunteers, and probably about a million other things! Each year, Surfers Healing travels worldwide, up and down both U.S. coasts, Puerto Rico, and Canada, giving literally THOUSANDS of children their BEST DAY EVER! Please click the Surfers Healing logo above, and learn more about this non-profit organization. If you are able, financial donations are always appreciated, in any amount. You can also volunteer your time to help out at an event near you, which is also very much needed and appreciated. I think they are about finished with events for 2012, but the 2013 schedule should be out early next year, I think. If you have a child on the autism spectrum and would like to attend an event, check their website to see what surf camps are near you, and make sure you don't miss the sign up date for that event - the events fill up very quickly.

To Izzy and Danielle Paskowitz, and everyone involved with Surfers Healing, thank you for an amazing day at Folly Beach, SC. Aidan truly had the BEST DAY EVER, and we can't wait to surf with y'all again!

Much love,

Allie
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