Thursday, April 21, 2011

Teacher Conference

Earlier this week Mom and I attended another parent teacher conference with Alyce's teacher.  Our first conference went well with discussions about Alyce's language development and interaction with the class.  This conference her teacher Ms. Mary talked about much Alyce has grown over the past year.  She showed us some drawings of people both at the beginning of the year and at the end of the year.

The second picture has much more detail.  Ms. Mary wrote down what Alyce had to say about the picture.  It was a picture of her dad with a heart and that she was happy to play video games with me.

Next, after the picture she showed us the results of the counting game the kids play.  I got the impression that Alyce doesn't play the game all that much and instead focuses on the art sections and sensory tables.  The game consisted of dumping some colored beans on the table and counting the ones that have the green side facing up.  Then taking that number and marking it on the appropriate box on a piece of paper.  To hear it explained to Mom and I we thought it was kind of a complex game and was most likely beyond Alyce's abilities.  We were wrong.  It turns out the few times Alyce played she was perfect in counting the right number of beans and recording in the proper location.

Ms. Mary also wrote some nice words about Alyce and her time at school.  Below is a copy of the letter.

Alyce enters the classroom quietly with her Dad ready to begin her day.  She chooses the art center and begins creating with all the materials available. Alyce's social skills have grown this year.  She is beginning to take the initiative to enter some play situations with her peers.  Occasionally, she still enjoys independent play, but she is beginning to interact with small groups of peers.
Although Alyce is quiet at school, as her confidence has grown so has her ability to make her needs known.  She is sharing information with the class during class meetings.  She asks for help when needed.  She wants to participate in all class activities.  When she is unsure of activities, she sometimes becomes easily frustrated and begins to cry.  During these times, she usually says she misses her mommy.  With extra encouragement from her teachers and peers, Alyce will watch to learn the activity.
Alyce enjoys sitting with her teachers and learning.  She is participating in pretend play in the dramatic play center.  She investigates the sensory tables.  She builds in the block center.  She joins peers at the writing center to explore the materials there.
Alyce is a very nice girl.  I have enjoyed watching her become more confident in the classroom setting!
We talked more about Alyce's growing confidence and her crying.  Ms. Mary related a story about Alyce where during meeting time Alyce's turn was missed or passed over by accident.  Rather than being reserved or shy Alyce belted out that it was her turn interrupting the sequence of events.  Ms. Mary went on to say that even though Alyce interrupted she applauded her for standing up for herself.

The crying seems to have been something that is showing up as of late.  Ms. Mary didn't dwell on this and I got the impression that it is just a phase that Alyce is going through.  I'm guessing new emotions are showing up and Alyce doesn't know how to cope with them.  So she turns to crying to vent.  I think once she can put what she is feeling to words or is able to rationalize those thoughts the crying will pass.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Doesn't Want To Be Alone

Over the past month or so Alyce has developed a new fear.  She is afraid of being alone.  Mom and I make her go into quiet time every day.  It is to give both her and us a break.  It only lasts 2 - 2.5 hours but lately Alyce has been resistant to go.  She is fighting going in her room because she says she doesn't want to be alone.  Mom and I tell her that she isn't alone and that we are close by if she needs us but that doesn't carry much weight.

I'm not exactly sure if she is truly afraid of being alone of if she is just using another trick in the book to try and get out of quiet time.  If she is faking then perhaps she should pursue an acting career as she is very convincing.  We just had a parent teacher conference (more on that soon) and her teacher said that Alyce has picked up crying in class if she becomes frustrated with something or if they want her to do something she doesn't know how to do like playing basketball.  When Alyce starts to cry she says that she misses Mommy and also she says that Mommy misses her.

I'm hoping that this is just a stage and that new emotions are opening up to Alyce.  Perhaps she doesn't quite know how to handle them yet and is acting out in a fashion that is working for her e.g. crying.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Swimming Lessons

Today Alyce started her second session of swimming lessons. She didn't meet the criteria to advance to the next level so she is retaking this level. This didn't come as much of a surprise to Mom or I and Alyce doesn't seem to mind retaking the class.

This year things are a bit different. For starters her teacher is a guy instead of the nice girl that taught last session. We are hoping that she was on vacation or something and will be back next week. We are wanting a girl because we think Alyce would open up better to a women over a man and that would give her the confidence to try new things.

The next difference with this session is that there are two other girls in the class and only two boys. This fact wasn't lost on Alyce as she informed me of their presence after class. As expected the two girls didn't splash and Alyce didn't have to protect herself from all those splashing boys.

Alyce was much more relaxed this time around. She didn't cling to the wall and tried some of the things the teacher was teaching. For instance while swimming with assistance Alyce used her arms to help her move including taking them our of the water to do so.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Hat Day

Today at Alyce's school was hat day. It was combination / information day about kids and cancer. If a kid brought in $.50 they got a sticker and could wear a hat. I don't know how much they talked to preschoolers about cancer but I'm sure the kids liked the change of pace.

Something interesting happened on the way to school. To get to Alyce's school we have to drive past a high school. This high school is currently undergoing some upgrades including adding some buildings. To facilitate the earth moving there were two excavators on site. As we drove past Alyce said "I see two diggers". I told her that I didn't see them. She said that "I'll see them next time". I asked her what those diggers were for? Her response was "to dig foundations". Alyce has been learning about construction at school and she's been into Bob the Builder but I didn't expect her to know what a foundation was let alone that you use an excavator to dig one.

Monday, April 11, 2011

Mardi Gras

Back in March we attended the Mardi Gras festivities at our new town.  Instead of Mardi Gras we should call it Mardi Growl as it was a family dog parade instead of the bacchanalian images that would normally come into mind.

It was the first time they put on this event and I would say it was a great success.  They had adequate facilities on site like port-a-potties and food vendors.  Where they came up short with was organization.  When the dogs finally went on parade it was mob rather than a parade.  In the future I think they should release the dogs in groups to lengthen the parade and allow us to see more dogs.

The kids really enjoyed this.  The weather was ok and seeing all types of dogs was fun.  Alyce got to make a Mardi Gras mask and Luke listened to some music.

It was a short, didn't cost us anything, and we had fun.  All the makings of good time.

Friday, April 8, 2011

At the Park

Today is Alyce's brother Luke's birthday. He's now two! The big party is coming Sunday but we had a small celebration too. We ate dinner at Culver's, ate ice cream, and played at a park.

We got to the park kind of late and had the entire playground to ourselves. It was overcast and cool so the slides weren't burning anybody which is a plus. This playground also has a rock wall you can climb that will get you to the level of the slides. Going this route saves lots of time as you don't have to round trip on the stairs. We didn't let Luke get near the wall but we gave Alyce more leeway. The first time she traversed the wall she was halfway up before we got near her to catch her if she fell. Alyce must be part Billy Goat as she went up the wall like we go up a set of stairs. She knew exactly were to position her hands and feet and even skipped a few foot holds on the way up.

As I think about how far Luke has grown in the past two years I can see how the next two will have just as big as an effect.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011


Today Mom made a fort for Alyce and Luke to play in. Judging by this picture I'd say they enjoyed themselves.

The fort was a blanket over Luke's crib.

Monday, April 4, 2011

This One Has Lots of Words

Tonight was my night to put Alyce to bed. One step in the going to bed routine is to read a story. Mom and I give her carte blanche on the story she chooses. We do try and steer her towards ones that are short or don't have a lot of words per page. Tonight, however, I wasn't so lucky. She picked out a book that we just purchased and I wasn't sure how long or complicated it was. Well it turns out the book has lots of pretty colorful pictures but it also has lots of pages and lots of words. To top it off level of reading is probably for a 3rd to 4th grader and not a preschooler. But I decided to be a good dad and trudge through the book.

About a third of the way through the book I look over and Alyce is bored out of her mind. I ask her if she liked the story and she said "this one has lots of words". I agreed with that it did and I asked if she'd like a new story. She agreed and we read a new book about a dog named Biscuit. The adventures of Biscuit are more more appropriate for a 4 year old.

Howdy Do

This weekend Alyce dug up an old cowboy hat and was wearing it around the house. At one point she was standing on the bench my father made her. While up there I said to her "hi little lady" in a cowboy voice. She then took of her hat, held it off to her side, curtsied, and replied "how dee do" with a Southern accent.

Kids can be so funny sometimes.


I've written in the past that Alyce has taken a liking to doing artwork at school.  A few weeks ago they started making cards in class.  The class has since moved on but Alyce has not.  She now likes to make cards for everyone.  She pours a lot of herself into each card.  Every time she finishes a card she asks Mom or I if so-and-so will like their card.  Of course we tell her that they will love it.  Because truthfully speaking they probably will. Everyone likes to get a card even if it is just a picture of a stick person with their name on it.

Mom and I have used these cards as an occasion to teach her some spelling.  We've gotten her to be able to write Mom and Dad on her own.  It started off with us writing the word next to her card and she copies it.  Now  she can do it on her own. I've even gotten a card with my name on it instead of Dad.  I'm not sure how I think about that but I appreciate that she's learning to write my real name.

Two cards as of late have stood out.  The first one is a birthday card that Alyce made for her classmate Mckenna's birthday present.  Alyce made that card a week before the party and she learned to draw a picture of a cake when she made that card.  Since then Alyce has been on a tear making pictures of birthday cakes.

The second card I liked was one she made for me just because.  It had my name on the front and on the inside it had a picture of her and a flower.  I thought the picture and the thought behind it was wonderful.  I've since put the card on my nightstand.  I'll probably get it framed someday.

In case you couldn't tell that is a self portrait of Alyce.  It's good to see that she sees herself smiling.  Other examples of Alyce's card making prowess.

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Birthday Party

Saturday Alyce attended a birthday party for at Bounce U.  This is the same Bounce U she's attended in the past for other birthday parties.  This time it was for her classmate Mckenna.  We were 5 minutes late getting her there because of swimming lessons and haircuts.  When we finally showed up Alyce melded into the crowd like an old pro at Bounce U.

It was very funny to see how a few months can make a difference in a set of children.  When we had our first party there last October most of the kids were a little cautious with all of the equipment and each other.  Now, 5 months later they are running around like they own the place.  Alyce first ripped her shoes off and put them in a cubby without me having to say anything.  Next she hit the big blowup slide grabbing a mat before making the trip up.  15 - 20 minutes later she figured out there was other stuff to do and took a few turns on the obstacle course and after that took a turn shooting foam balls at her classmates.

One classmate Alyce took a liking to is Shruti.  We've heard about Shruti in the past from Alyce and seeing Alyce in action with her showed that they were best friends.  They rode the slide together time and time again; lots of times they did it sharing the same mat or holding hands on the way down.  Shruti was also able to help Alyce get through a very sad moment.

The sad moment came at the end of our time in the bounce rooms just before we head some pizza, cake, and presents.  All of the kids sat on or around a set of stairs for a group picture.  Alyce was taking swings with a bat on a piece of equipment and was late to being put into position.  By the time she got there all of the spots on the steps had been taken and for some reason (lack of food) she wanted a top step.  She kept the water works under control until the pictures were finished but you could tell she wasn't happy and on the verge of tears.  I tried to calm her down but nothing was really working.  So rather than let her day be ruined I sprung into action.  I spoke to Shruti's mom and asked if I could use her daughter.  I put both her and Alyce on the top step where the pictures had just finished and took a few of just the two of them.  This must have been good enough as the tears had stopped and even a smiled shined through.  Later on in the room with the pizza and cake Alyce sat next to Shruti with disaster but a memory.

When Mckenna was opening presents we had our first instance of a birthday girl getting a duplicate present.  We had bought a copy of the newly released Disney movie Tangled for Mckenna and someone else did too.  And they opened that gift right before ours.  Mckenna did a good job opening up a duplicate and being very appreciative of Alyce for it.  Alyce didn't seemed to notice or if she did she didn't say anything to me about it.  I think Alyce was more interested in whether or not Mckenna would like the card Alyce made for her. I'll write about the card in another post, but Alyce made this card a while ago and on repeated occasions asked Mom or I whether Mckenna would like her card. Mckenna did seem to like her card and even read it aloud.

The last item of note about this party was that there weren't any goodie bags.  In all of the other parties we attended the host gave out bags of small toys and candy for the kids.  Alyce usually forgets about them 24 hours later but them not being there that day was noticed and Alyce was sad that there wasn't any.  I can't say I blame the hosts for not having them.  Hosting at a place like Bounce U can't be cheap and spending another $50 on stuff that will be thrown away a week later doesn't make economic sense; but kids aren't economists.  I don't think the lack of bags was that big of a deal but I thought it was interesting that she brought it up in the first place.

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