PALs Birthday Party

by Kayte

Max and Lola got to be royalty for the day as their classes joined together for a big birthday celebration. Everyone sang “Happy Birthday” and I brought strawberries and whipped cream for a snack. We have really gotten close to the preschool teachers and families these past two years and I’m already starting to feel sentimental about the end of the school year. It’s been a great experience.
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Walking Field Trip

by Kayte

The kids’ preschool classes are introducing Walking Field Trips to teach the kids about street safety and expose them to their local community. There is a shopping center a half mile from their school where the kids all got ice cream before heading back. It was quite a sight to see 30 preschoolers and all their parents/teachers in a long line down the sidewalk.


IEP Graduation

by Kayte

We had Max’s annual IEP (Individualized Education Plan) meeting at school today and he has officially graduated from special education services. He will start a general ed kindergarten class in the fall. From 25-weeker to average 5-year-old. Amazing.

Due to a clerical mix-up Lola’s IEP meeting isn’t scheduled until May 17th, which we are super upset about because it leaves a lot of things up in the air for the next two months. But their assessment calendar is so booked they couldn’t change it. Sigh.


Character Award

by Kayte

Lola received her second student of the month award for the school year: the trustworthiness award for somebody who is honest and trustworthy – Lola!

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Lunch with a Lovebug

by Kayte

Brody and I joined the kids at school today for lunch with our little lovebugs. They were thrilled to see Daddy, who doesn’t get to come to as many school events as I do because of work. I made the kids a special lunch of heart-shaped sandwiches, watermelon and strawberries and Daddy brought them ice blended chocolate shakes – a super special treat!

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Buildings Study

by Kayte

I was lucky enough to join Lola and Max at school two days in a row for fun activities. This year their curriculum has been broken up into two-months studies that focus on all sorts of different things: trees, clothes, pets, etc. Today was the end of their most recent Buildings Study and to celebrate they built gingerbread houses.

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When we are outside, children often ask questions about our building. They want to know the height of the school building, what it’s made of, and how strong it is. They also ask many questions about the way it looks. Their ongoing interest in our building helped us realize that buildings would make a good study topic. As we study buildings, we will learn concepts and skills in science, social studies, literacy, math, the arts, and technology. We will also be using thinking skills to investigate, ask questions, solve problems, make predictions, and test our ideas.

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100 Days of PALs

by Kayte

I joined Max and Lola at school today to celebrate 100 School Days. It’s not something we did when I was a kid (that makes me feel so old to compare their experiences to my childhood?) but I guess it’s a big thing these days. There are three different preschool classes at Max & Lola’s school right now, so they broke the kids into mixed groups and rotated between the different classes to complete different 100s activities. Max and Lola inked 100 fingerprints, dabbed 100 bingo dots, painted 100 gumballs, and beaded a 100-fruit-loops necklace. For the grand finale all the classes joined together in the auditorium to take 100 licks of a lollipop. Yum!

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Wizard of Oz

by Kayte

Max and Lola had their second annual trip to the theater this week to watch The Wizard of Oz. This year daddy was able to come too! This musical wasn’t quite as well suited to young kids as Seussical was – I didn’t realize that these performances weren’t necessarily FOR kids, just that last year’s happened to be perfect. Either way both kids sat through the whole performance very well (much better than last year) and we had LOTS to talk about for the rest of the day – flying monkeys, melting witches, tornadoes, etc.

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I laughed when I saw that this year’s series of pictures is exactly the same as last year’s: bus ride, theater, stage. Don’t worry. Max is happy about Wizard of Oz; he’s not so happy about me trying to get him to pose for a picture.

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Sepia

by Kayte

Lola’s teachers surprised us with a belated Christmas gift from Lola. Every year they take portraits of the students in fancy clothes and give the parents a framed copy.

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It reminded me of this old Western-style photo we have of Nana Bah, Brody and Uncle David:

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School Photos

by Kayte

Here are Max and Lola’s school pictures for the 2016-2017 school year (taken last fall, so no glasses):

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They sure have grown up a lot since last year:

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PALs – Holiday Performance

by Kayte

Today Max sang three songs at his second holiday performance at school. Lola obviously had to miss it because she is in the hospital, which is a shame because they’ve been practicing since Thanksgiving. Last year Max and Lola just stood on stage looking dazed, but this year Max sang along to all the words – and he even introduced their class to the audience. So proud of my big guy.




Fashion Show

by Kayte

As part of Max & Lola’s clothing study at school, they both participated in a fashion show where each student wore a special outfit and shared its significance with the audience. We got to see sentimental outfits, clothing from different cultures, and Sunday Best dress clothes.

img_5278 Lola is wearing a special a rainwear ensemble given to her by her Nana. Should it ever rain again in Los Angeles, it’s designed to keep her dry as well as look fashionable on the playground. By way of Bangladesh, this pink LL Bean jacket is Gortex-inspired and is made from 100% un-organic nylon. It features a classically shaped hood designed to keep Lola’s head dry and warm, and conveniently stows away when not needed. A reflective patch on the back of the coat makes sure she is visible while walking the dog at night. It also features two roomy pockets to stash away goldfish or candy. Should water ever fall from the sky again, Lola is sports a pair of purple Muk Luks to keep her feet dry and warm. Thoughtfully designed with a breathable upper and rubber sole, no puddle is safe from a stomping!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

img_5279 Sparty’s in the house! Max, a big fan of the Michigan State Spartans, is sporting authentic Michigan State apparel sent to him by his Grandma and Grandpa who live in Michigan. This was the perfect attire for watching his Spartans defeat the the Stanford Cardinals in the 2014 Rose Bowl. Max’s officially licensed sleek black tracks pants and green Michigan State Spartan football jersey were both machine crafted in Indonesia and are made from a luxurious soft poly blend. His hat, featuring the classic white Sparty logo, will never go out of style and keeps his dome warm on those chilly Los Angeles nights. Whether cheering on MSU or showing your colors out on the town, this comfy Spartan wear does it all.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Sewing Demo

by Kayte

Max and Lola’s classes are in the midst of an 8-week study about clothing, so I volunteered to bring my sewing machine into class and make mittens for all the kids! Each student got to pick their colors from a variety of fleece, then we cut out a pattern and sewed them together right in class. I didn’t have much of a game plan going into it and the first couple pair were pretty rough, but I got into the groove pretty quickly and the project turned out really well. The kids all had fun and I’ve seen a lot of the students wearing their mittens in the mornings now that our weather has gotten cooler.

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Lola’s teacher asked me to come in and do the demo for her class is well, so I’ll do that after Thanksgiving. I didn’t realize that having kids in two different classrooms would end up being double the work!


PALs P/T Conferences

by Kayte

We had parent-teacher conferences with both Max and Lola’s teachers this week. The best part is that Max and Lola both love school and are excited to go to class every day (especially Lola). They are both making lots of progress, learning new things, and building strong friendships.

Max’s strengths include asking in-depth questions, literacy, participation in the classroom/routine, excitement about learning, expressive language, making friends/socializing and physical play. Max is working on expressing himself when upset, impulsivity and pre-academic skills (letters/numbers/fine motor). When he does act up in school his teacher thinks that it is out of boredom – he is ready for kindergarten! His teacher thinks he will be ready to mainstream into a general education kindergarten class next fall, which is great news. We won’t know for certain until his annual IEP next spring, but Max is doing well.

Lola’s strengths include interest/enjoyment in school, verbal communication, clean up, peer interaction, following directions, curiosity, asking questions, sharing and pretend play. Lola is working on socially appropriate behavior, using a quiet voice, focusing on non-preferred tasks, pre-academic skills (letters/numbers/patterns), fine motor (writing/scissors). Lola’s teacher thinks that Lola would be better served in a special education setting for kindergarten – a classroom that follows the same academic curriculum, but with fewer students and more teachers/aides. It was sort of what we were expecting, but we were disappointed to learn that Lola’s home school doesn’t have this type of program for kindergarten, which means that potentially the kids could end up in different schools next year. Definitely not ideal logistically, but we will cross that bridge when we come to it.

As opposed to last spring’s annual IEP, they are both making great progress and are on track to meet almost all of their goals by next spring. We should work with Max more on his number/letter recognition. A lot of Lola’s struggles still center around physical mobility – she is still not able to independently climb stairs or catch a ball from a long distance. But it is so good to see them succeeding in other areas such as recognizing the letters in their own names, social/emotional, language/communication, etc. I couldn’t be prouder of these two!


Field Trip: Underwood Farms

by Kayte

Today was our annual [field] trip to the local Fall Harvest Festival with Max & Lola’s school. Unfortunately we’ve been experiencing a heat wave in the 90s these past couple days, so it felt nothing like fall, and we weren’t able to stay for very long. We did manage to climb the hay pyramid, take a tractor ride and pick pumpkins, but that was about all before we had to throw in the [sweaty] towel. I think next year we will base our timing of the trip solely on weather forecast.

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Lion Pride

by Kayte

Fridays are spirit day at Max & Lola’s school. We all bought t-shirts so the whole family can join in! Amazingly I found one that fits Lola pretty well (the girls’ sizes ran small) but Max definitely has some room to grow into his.

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Sensory Walk

by Kayte

The kids went on a sensory walk at school today and Brody & I were lucky enough to be available to volunteer. We set out bins of cereal, leaves, feathers, cotton balls, gelatin, cooked pasta and shaving cream. The kids all took a turns walking through each bin, ending with the water/washing station. Max and Lola both did great with all the different textures, especially the gelatin which we made at home. What a fun activity!

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Backpack Bears

by Kayte

Max and Lola’s first few weeks of school have been going well. Lola has adjusted very well to her new classroom and teachers. Surprisingly, Max had a harder time with the new arrangement. The second week of school he started crying and clinging to me at dropoff, which he has NEVER done before: not even last year when we dropped him off for the very first time. When I asked him what was wrong, he said he missed his sister. Awwww. But things have gotten better since then. They both happily run to the car when it’s time to go to school and easily kiss us goodbye at the classroom door.

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First Day of PALs

by Kayte

Max and Lola started their second year of preschool today. They’re in a new program called PALs which is 4-1/2 hours per day, 5 days a week. Last year’s program was 2-1/2 hours, 4 days per week so it’s a big change for us. It’s a nice intermediate step to prepare them for kindergarten’s longer days next year (not to mention that this is the longest amount of time I have been by myself in four years – w0w).

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The other big change this year is that we (parents & teachers) decided to put Max & Lola in different classrooms to foster independence and individual growth. We chose to move Lola to a new class in the hopes of her having some female classmates, and we were happy to meet two new little girls the first day. Max stayed behind in the same class as last year with all his buddies which is a big old boys’ club. Lola gave me an extra-long hug when we dropped her off at class today, and then bravely went to play with all her new teachers and friends.

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Field Trip: Pumpkin Patch

by Kayte

Max and Lola went on their first school field trip to the Underwood Family Farm. Max & Lola had been there twice before, so this was our third annual trip.

Since the kids are all so young, every student had to bring a parent with them. We also drove our own cars so unfortunately Max & Lola didn’t get to ride a school bus (which they would have loved). But we had a great time and I felt like I got to play hooky from my adult life for a day.