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Friday, March 23, 2012

First few days at the REAL preschool

Working hard at Playdoh spaghetti

Yesterday and today, Anellah and I attended preschool. It's been fantastic. It's definitely a preschool environment as opposed to Early Head Start which felt more like daycare. At Early Head Start she was one of the oldest in her class but she is the youngest in her new preschool class. It is perfect for her because she is rising to the occasion and working hard to keep up. The other kids have also been very sweet to her and multiple kids came and gave her hugs when she walked into the room this morning.

I am so happy with the new school. Her teacher, Ms. Kelly is very fun, organized, caring, and takes everything in stride! It's been a complicated process because not only do Anellah's diabetes needs need to be addressed she falls into a strange loophole in that she qualifies for the class based on her IEP but not based on her age. She is the first child to enter this relatively new program under 3 1/2 years old so nobody really knows what to do. Her teacher has been extremely proactive in finding out answers for me. In fact, every single faculty member I have met at the school has been exceptionally warm and helpful. I am ashamed to say I had much lower expectations for an OUSD school campus in a low income neighborhood!

I'm also excited about the nurse assigned to be with her during the day, her name is Nellie. She is young, sweet, flexible, and a quick-learner. She has experience with insulin pumps and definitely seems comfortable helping Anellah. Her sole responsibility is diabetes management as she is hired by the school district through an outside agency so she is not responsible for helping in the classroom in any other ways. It definitely makes for a much safer environment because she won't be distracted when giving insulin! I can't believe Anellah is so fortunate to have her full attention throughout the day!

Looking forward to all that our big preschooler is going to learn between now and summer break.

Brushing teeth on her first day of school

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Our Little Lady Turns Three

I typed this awhile ago but kept forgetting to post it! Here it is finally!

Sunday, March 11th, Anellah turned THREE years old. It was interesting and somewhat magical how suddenly she became a big girl overnight. I’m not even kidding, she’s more interested in potty training (thanks to one of her three year old friends giving her “big girl undies” for a gift), she has been super brave at doctor appointments, she has her first chore (feeding the dog twice a day), and she can follow multi-step instructions. It’s amazing.

Her Mom and some other family members came too
Her party was also…amazing…chaotic…exciting…messy…you get the picture! I suppose even in California you can’t count on the weather to cooperate when planning an outside event. What I had originally planned as a “small” gathering of her friends turned into a house full of 17 kids and their parents. She is so popular that everyone we invited came except one family! I am so glad everything turned out just the way it did though because she had a BLAST and I think everyone who came had fun too. It was also a great chance for a couple of her Mom’s friends and family members to see her.
Ladybug Craft Project

Live ladybug release after the party (when the sun finally came out)

Sunday, March 18, 2012

2 Months

I meant to post this yesterday but it didn't happen, so here it is a day late.

Someone stole my newborn and replaced him with a 13 pound chubby baby! What happened? The past two months I have enjoyed watching this little guy learn about his new world. He is spending more time awake during the day and has started to take things in, I can tell he’s processing. If we smile at him he’ll smile back and even laugh sometimes. I wish I could catch the laugh on video but I never want to interrupt the moment to grab a camera. He spends less time eating now and only wakes up to nurse at night twice (on good nights) to four times (not so good nights). The thing I love the most though is holding him after he’s eaten, he tucks up his legs, stretches up his arms, and nuzzles his head into my neck  100% relaxed and content.

I still have almost a month of maternity leave left which I am savoring. When I do return, it will only be 2 days/ week which I am thankful for. It has been a huge blessing to spend time with my kids and, it’s strange to say, get to KNOW them. I feel like I know Anellah better now than I did 6 months ago when I was busy with work, her doctors appointments, her surgery, etc. Life right now is still really busy as I make arrangements for the new preschool,  get caught up with doctors appointments for Anellah which I avoided during the months of  December, January and February, try to finish things before heading back to work, try to keep up with my growing kiddos, etc. but I remind myself every day that it’s a different kind of busy. This is a special time and I will never again have these moments with our kids.   

Friday, March 16, 2012

New Preschool

The day the kids and I got back from Southern California, I attended an IEP (Individual Education Plan) meeting with Oakland Unified School District (OUSD). Since Anellah was turning three, her physical therapy and speech therapy were going to end unless I could get something through the school district. I honestly expected to leave the meeting without being offered any services but I had a slight hope she would at least receive speech therapy services at our local elementary school meaning I could take her to speech therapy weekly. Getting physical therapy was my primary concern because her balance is poor and it's a safety issue but my hopes weren't high she would be "delayed" enough to qualify.

I was blown away by the end of the IEP meeting. Not only did OUSD offer speech therapy AND physical therapy, they offered a preschool class 5 days/week in the mornings. The classroom will include up to 20 children, 14 of whom are mainstream students and 6 of whom have IEP's meaning they have some sort of delay or need varying degrees of support. The therapy services would be provided during Anellah's time at school with additional "homework" given to the classroom staff for them to work on meeting her speech and physical development goals. In addition, the school district is going to provide a nurse to be with Anellah the entire time she is at school in order to operate her insulin pump and provide diabetes management. And the icing on the cake: a bus will pick her up at home and drop her off at daycare every day. And the cherry on top: I've talked to her classroom teacher on the phone a few times and she sounds amazing, completely proactive and very kind.

Of course there are a lot of logistics that I am working to figure out now including enrollment paperwork, diabetes training, childcare for Capper while I attend the first few days of school with her, phone calls with the teacher and school nurse, discontinuing her enrollment at Early Head Start, setting up the bus transportation (a little nervous about my little girl on a bus...), etc. But in the end I believe this will be an excellent fit for Anellah and is proving to be far easier than enrolling her in any other program has been. I really feel that we found favor somehow and I am really excited for her to start!

As I mentioned, she will not continue to attend Early Head Start because both preschools are at the same time but in the fall she may attend preschool in the morning and Head Start in the afternoons if we feel like it would be good for her and feel like she could handle that long of a day. We'll see!

I promise, more posts with photos will come soon.

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Road Trip

So much to post about tonight!

First: Our exciting trip to Southern California

I decided that it was time for an adventure so Anellah, Capper, and I drove down to Los Angeles to see Aunt Judy, Uncle Andy and Cousin Michael. We left at 1:00pm straight from daycare:
We had so much fun with Aunt Judy cooking and playing in the jacuzzi, although Anellah kept calling her "grandma" because she is so similar to my Mom (her sister).

Uncle Andy was super-fun too!! Anellah keeps talking about them both.

Sorry Michael, your Dad still needs to email me the photos of you and Capper...

I also have updates about preschool and there are birthdays coming up, but right now both kids are asleep so it's time for Mom and Dad to have our SECOND movie night in 2 months!