Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Friday, October 9, 2009

Friday Flashback


This is a picture of what Henry's room looked like before there was a thought of Henry. It was a guest bedroom. And it was used on a fairly regular basis.

Once there was a thought of a child in the home, we gave this child a code name of Harley. So now this room became "Harley's Room". Oh, and it was so much fun decorating. At this time, I didn't know if Harley was going to be a girl or a boy, but I was pretty sure it was going to be a boy. But just in case, the room needed to be decorated in such a way that it could go either way.

The first thing I decided was to have built-ins put in the room. I designed a unit to go across the back wall of the room that would include a window seat, a dresser, and an adjustable "desk" that could do double duty as a changing table.

I scoured the web to find a set of bedding that I loved and found one that had cartoonish bugs in "baby" colors. I was "lent" a crib by my dear friend Joyce. It had been Hailey's when she was a baby. I researched and found the best brand of glider. The key was that I wanted a glider that didn't look like a glider. And other various accoutrements were added until the room was ready for Harley to come home and occupy it. Here is what the final result looked like:


After a bit, Henry transitioned from a crib to a toddler bed that was a fire engine. The bug decals came down and new decals of firemen and policmen and firetrucks and police cars were put up.


And last year, as he began kindergarten, his room was upgraded to an official "Big Boy Room" complete with a regular bed. The glider was removed, the decals were taken down. The theme of "travel" was selected. He now has icons from various places around the world, like the Eiffel tower, the Statue of Liberty and Big Ben. His bedding matches with additional icons from around the world, like the Kremlin, The Great Wall of China, The Sphinx, Taj Mahal, etc.

It fits him.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Nate the Great

Today, there was a "Book Character Parade" at Henry's school. So we reviewed many of Henry's favorite books and tried to decide what would be a good character for him to be for the parade. His first wish was to wear his Anakin costume. While we do have some Star Wars books in our library, I wished for him to pick a more literary character instead of the a movie character that had been made into a book.

We considered Roscoe Riley, but decided at the end that it would be hard to tell if Henry was dressed as himself or as Roscoe Riley, since Roscoe is a first grade student. We needed something that would stand out a bit more.

Of course, we considered Curious George or The Man with the Yellow Hat. But in the end, we didn't think we had enough time to pull those costumes together.

We contemplated David of the David Shannon series, but ran into the same issue as Roscoe Riley.

We reconsidered Anakin and again, dismissed it thinking we could come up with something better.

In the end, we decided on Nate the Great.


We figured we could pick up a few props and be able to do the title character justice. After searching high and low for a kid's-sized trenchcoat that could be picked up on the cheap, I finally settled on an adult sized one. At first, I thought I would do some creative sewing on it to try and make it a bit smaller. I found one at the Good Will store, so I wasn't in much and figured I didn't have much to lose. But after trying it on him as is, it was decided that wearing the bigger size added a "cuteness factor". So I left it alone.

Here is the finished product:


I had fun attending the parade. I was pleasantly surprised by how many of the students actually participated. Those that didn't dress served as the audience of the parade. The students gathered in the cafeteria and then paraded through each of the pods to show off their costumes.

Some other notable characters were spotted. The first grade teachers all dressed as different iterations of Junie B. Jones (who I thought was just for girls, but Henry absolutely loves!). The Cat in the Hat was there, along with Thing 1 and Thing 2. Clifford the Big Red Dog made an appearance. So did Snow White, Hannah Montana and Fancy Nancy. Spongebob Squarepants was also there (is he really a book character?). The main characters from "If You Give a Mouse" and "If You Give a Pig" also made an appearance. And that was just the teachers!

Among the students, Diary of a Wimpy Guy was very popular. There were also several princesses, a few butterflies and sports players. There were a few Star Wars characters, including Darth Vader himself. Oh, and there were various pirates. And Batman, Spiderman and the rest of the Super Heroes (so comic book heroes count as book characters?). Oh, and my favorite, there was a whole class that went with Chicka Chicka Boom Boom...all posing as a different letter of the alphabet. Very clever indeed.

All in all, it seems all of the kids had fun and I was glad I got to participate. I felt bad for the mom that was just showing up as it was all over and the rest of the parents were heading out.

Monday, October 5, 2009 far


So, here we are, well into "First Grade". So far, things are going okay.

We have our morning routine down pretty well. We know that we have to leave at 7:35 to navigate the drop-off traffic and have him in his classroom before the 8 a.m. bell. His alarm goes off at 6:30, usually playing the Bible Story CD that he chose the night before. This has been so wonderful. Last year, I woke him and that did NOT go over well. Now, his CD player starts talking and he gradually wakes up. Sometimes, I still have to go and cajole him out of bed, but many mornings, he's up on his own and ready to start the day. We have scheduled 30 minutes for "upstairs" time to allow for getting dressed and brushing hair and teeth, and such.

By 7 a.m., we're ready to move downstairs for the rest of our routine. When we get downstairs, Henry will usually select what he wants for breakfast (he's on a cereal kick right now) and climb up on his stool at the island to eat. Meanwhile, I work from the other side of the island and prepare his lunch (unless he's forgotten his lunchbox at school, in which case, he eats cafeteria food for that day). So far, he still enjoys that I pack a lunch for him. And I enjoy that time we have together at the island each morning. We usually review his spelling words during this time, too.

Today, his lunchbox contained half a PB/J sandwich on whole wheat bread, a handful of fresh mushrooms, a bag of grapes, and a drinkable yogurt. Typically, he will eat most of this. Perhaps a few of the grapes will come back.

After he's done eating, he'll put his dishes up in the dishwasher. By then, I've moved on to making sure his backpack is ready. I update his daily folder with whatever books we read the night before and whatever homework assignments he's done. His homework this week includes the activities of deciding which is his favorite meal (breakfast, lunch or dinner) and then creating a menu for that meal. Another task is to keep track of all of the food he eats for a day and then to organize it into the food groups.

Most mornings, I end up with about 10 minutes to sit down and watch a bit of TV before we actually have to leave. Yeah, me.

And then we head off, usually with Dolly in tow (our little doggy goes to work with me). The drop-off line is usually about 20-25 cars long, but moves along and a good pace. And while we're waiting, we have the same conversation:

Mama : Can I walk in with you?
Henry: No, I can do it by myself.
Mama: I know you can do it by yourself, but I like to come in with you.
Henry: Oh, all right. You can come in.

He's gotten a little more resigned to the fact that I like to walk him in. And most of the goofy parents that walk in park across the street and create a traffic hazard by trying to cross against school traffic. That means there is always a parking spot right out front in the school lot.

He's such a silly boy in that he always wants to take the "short cut". I guess it's a matter of school folk lore that this is a shortcut to Pod 2, where his classroom is, because I've heard other kids discussing it in the hallway. The funny thing is, it is SO NOT a shortcut. So the deal we cut was that when I walk in with him, we do not take the shortcut. But when he walks in by himself, he can take whatever "cut" he wants to get to his classroom.

So, as I mentioned earlier, sometimes he eats the cafeteria offering for lunch. Lunch is $1.40 a day. I can hardly pack his lunch for that much, so don't mind when he wants to eat there versus me packing. Most of the time, he eats the cafeteria food when he's forgotten his lunchbox at school. But here's the thing. They don't handle cash at all. You set up an account for your child, and then they key in their PIN number on a keypad. His pin is a 6-digit number. At the beginning of the school year, I was aghast that they would expect a first grader to learn and remember a 6-digit pin number in order to eat lunch. But then, when I started working with Henry, he learned his pin in a single day. I guess maybe the school knows what it's doing after all.

In the afternoons, we started with Hailey picking him up after school. However, a few weeks ago, he started making noises about wanting to take the bus home. So, I did all the research to learn which bus route he was on and what time it would drop him at the end of our street. Starting last week, he is now taking the bus home and Hailey meets him at the end of our street. The first day, he was very stressed out by it all. But after that, he seems to be enjoying it and wants to continue taking the bus.

As far as classroom, well, we're facing some challenges there. The teacher operates on a color coding system. There are five "colors" and it's up to the kids behavior. They start on dragon, which is the school mascot and the "best" color. For each infraction, the child is asked to change to a different color, cycling to green, blue, yellow and red. Per the teacher's description, a note home or a phone call will be placed when the child gets to the yellow and red spectrum. So far, our worst day has been blue, which sometimes results in a small note in the daily chart.

I had to spend some time thinking about how to deal with this. In the end, based on reading I've done on parenting and adoption boards, I had decided that school stuff was school stuff. But that appropriate behavior needed to be reinforced from home. So, for now, our policy is that we discuss what "color" he is each day. When it isn't dragon, we discuss the infractions that caused the color change and discuss different choices that should have been made. And that's the end of it. However, we've also agreed that if/when he gets into the yellow and red spectrum, there may be additional consequences at home for the behaviors that got him there.

He's also had some extreme bouts of frustration. I have my theories and opinions about what is causing it. Fortunately, his teacher approached me and asked if we could get the school counselor involved. I was most agreeable and he is meeting regularly with her. I'm hoping that she can provide some insight on these behaviors and together, we can help him not to have to experience such stress and anxiety...that and the the huge order I placed with Amazon on childhood stress.

That's all I've got for now. I realize that for those that don't follow me on Facebook, you may not be aware of the "elbow incident". Look for a post soon (with pictures) for an update on that topic.