Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Astrid's 1st day of school (preschool)

Today was Astrid's first day at school.

Here she is holding her lunch bag.

It was a cold, rainy day, so I dressed her in a warm jacket with lots of layers underneath.We've been preparing for this day for awhile now. I found a preschool for Astrid that's a mile from my office. It gives me peace of mind knowing she's close and I can be there within minutes if necessary. It also makes the drop off and pick up much more convenient.

Originally I thought I would be able to stop by and take her to lunch once in awhile, but the Director pointed out that it makes it harder for the children to adjust and most kids will just cry when their parent leaves to go back to work.This school has 5 classrooms divided by age, which includes a separate classroom and playground for the older/bigger kids in Kindergarten. Astrid is in the intermediate class with the 3 year olds.Playing with puzzles.Astrid's teacher was out sick today, so I wasn't able to meet her, and the classes were combined as the school was dealing with the teacher's absence.Astrid made friends with this nice little girl named Ronni.Astrid prefers older kids (than kids her age), and older kids are also drawn to her because she's tall for her age and looks older.Circle time.Counting numbers as one kid picks his nose.The plan is to get Astrid acclimated to preschool little by little before I go back to work full time on March 1st. So today she was there until lunch time. U. and I thought it was an important bonding experience to break bread with the other children at the school. Gradually I will leave Astrid at school for longer periods of time so that she can experience nap time, recess after nap, and the after school program.

More pics of the school grounds below:A 3 seat teeter totter.Grass area, and playground with wood chips on the ground.Tricycle tarmack.A playhouse with a tree stump inside and tricycles, bikes, and cars.In the mornings and for recess the kids zoom around these 2 trees in their bikes and vehicles. It's adorable.

Pasadena Progressive Montessori School

615 S. Catalina Avenue

Pasadena, CA 91106

http://www.progressive-montessori.com/home.html

They have a piano in the classroom, and an in house music teacher who teaches music to the children, and who brings various instruments for the children to play with. I will also be enrolling Astrid in the gymnastics class which is taught by an outside instructor who comes to the school on a weekly basis.

They also have an annual concert recital which will be fun to watch.

Boy how time flies. My baby is already going to school. I stayed with her for a couple hours and then hugged her and reassured her I'd be back to pick her up after lunch time. She was hesitant to let me go but after giving me 10 kisses (which is highly unusual for her), she nodded to let me know it was okay for me to leave and she'd be okay. I got a little teary eyed when I left. It helped when I called U. to let him know how it went. Somehow while talking the lump in the throat went away. And when I was back to pick her up (I got there during lunch rather than after) Astrid was happy to see me and I was thrilled she had made it through her first half day at school on her own without any tears.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Self defense (from psychopaths and bullies)

Earlier this week Astrid encountered a small boy at the playground in Montrose. He was standing on the bridge as she was crossing, and as soon as she saw him Astrid stopped and looked coyly at him. It looked like a cute encounter - two little kids looking at each other, too shy to say "hi". Then all of a sudden out of the blue this boy attacked Astrid. He clawed her face and got her right underneath her eye.

I couldn't believe what I was seeing. I immediately shouted, "Stop! Don't touch her!" and scared the boy into backing away from her. But I was underneath the bridge and there was no way I could immediately get to Astrid to protect her. Astrid just stood there in shock looking at the boy with big eyes, scared to death of this kid.

The fastest way to get away from him was to go down the slide, so I told her to hurry and go down the slide. As she was edging towards the slide, this deranged kid attacked her again. I screamed, "Stop! Get away from her!"

As Astrid made it to the slide and was coming down I looked around for the boy's mom. There was a woman standing off in the distance on the grass on her cell phone, but she didn't even look my way so I thought it couldn't be her. This predator kid was roaming the playground unsupervised.

Astrid had red marks on her cheeks from the boy's nails that had clawed her face, and she was really scared. I had told the boy to keep his hands to himself, but rather than drag him around and look for his mom who was no where to be found, I wanted to focus on Astrid - making sure she was okay after this traumatic experience, so we went for a walk.

Traumatized she just kept talking about the boy and how he hurt her. "Boy hurt me." She was afraid of every kid who approached her after that. I tried to reassure her that no one was going to hurt her and most kids were nice, but that was just a bad boy.

Astrid was traumatized and so was I. I have never encountered such a disturbed kid like that who would attack another kid for no reason. And I felt so bad for Astrid. She had just stood there and let him attack her, without defending herself. I felt it was my fault that I never taught her self defense. I was so focused on teaching her how to be a polite, respectful, little girl and didn't think that I was also teaching her to be a docile victim. And that made me even more mad that another mom would raise a predator and let him roam the playground attacking other children. So I went back to the playground.

I spotted the kid immediately. And guess what? He was attacking another child. This time his victim was an older boy, so when he clawed this boy's sleeved arm, he didn't flinch. I saw a woman standing nearby watching (the same lady I saw standing on the grass). I asked her, "Is that your son over there?" And when she said "Yes" my first thought was - how could she ignore the commotion when he was attacking Astrid? She must have heard, but she didn't even respond. What kind of parent does that? When I told her that her son attacked my daughter and she was terrified of him - she just said, "Oh sorry", shrugged and turned her back to me. I had no doubts that she had heard this many times before.

So when we got home I practiced with Astrid to shout, "No!" when anyone approached her and tried to hurt her and to protect herself and run away. We practiced over and over again. Each time when I'd pretend to attack her and asked, "What do you say?" She'd say "thank you" or "please". It just broke my heart to see/hear that.

She's a timid kid to begin with and with her starting preschool soon it's important that she get over her fear of boys and learn to protect herself when I'm not around. Hopefully she'll never have to, but it makes me rethink enrolling her in a Karate class or something to learn self defense and how to be forceful and kick some butt if necessary. In the meantime we're going to avoid Montrose park. Not only because Astrid is terrified of going back there, but also if I see that kid again, I'm liable to go ballistic on his mom.

Astrid's 1st curse word

The word was "a*shole." I have to note here as a "not proud but worthy of comment" post since it was her first spoken curse word.

Today while Astrid and I were standing in the parking lot next to our car, another driver honked his car horn a few times nearby at someone else and it was really loud and annoying. Astrid blurted out something that definitely sounded like a curse word. So just to make sure I heard right, I asked her, "What did you say?" To which she repeated softly (and just barely audible but clear as a whistle), "A*shole."

Of course I told her to never use that word again and it's not a nice word. But of course she will (hopefully when she's a lot older and not directed at us or anyone we know)! She just smiled at me, knowing it was a naughty word, and said, "Okay Mommy" promising me she wouldn't use that word again.

U. and I try our best not to use profanity, especially around Astrid because she's like a sponge and picks up on EVERYTHING. Especially if there's any indication that it's a "strong" word with a lot of feeling behind associated with it. Like "Jesus" or "Jesus Christ" which she has said on occasion before. But that's taking the Lord's name in vain and not a curse word right? Same thing, different category. *Ahem* wonder where she got that from?

Normally she's such a polite, respectful, well mannered girl - so to hear a curse word come out of those sweet bow tie lips of hers was quite shocking. Although I appeared outraged on the exterior, on the inside I was cracking up. (Funny at 2 but as a parent you can't show it!)

When I shared what happened with U. we both started questioning where she learned the word from. He swears that he only uses *A-hole* while driving (if that's any consolation), and so she couldn't have picked it up from him. *shrug* Who knows? She could have just as easily picked it up from me. No use in finger pointing. Just have to nip it in the bud and be extra careful not to use words we don't want her repeating. Or come up with alternatives like "fudge" and such. Oh the censorship starts so soon!

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Starting to identify and write letters

At 2 (a couple months shy of 3) years old, Astrid is starting to recognize letters.

Alphabet Recognition
Astrid loves books. (In fact "book" was her 3rd spoken word after "mama" and "papa".) One of her favorite things to do is curl up beside me and have me read a book to her. "Read to me Mama! Please!!!" she frequently asks of me.

Before, "reading" on her own she would stare at the pictures and turn the pages. But now she's actually looking at the letters and words. It's exciting to see those wheels turning in her head, and see that she's starting to get the concept of reading.

In addition to reading books, she likes this cartoon called "Super Why" which teaches kids alphabet recognition and reading in an interactive format. (Still not big on TV, but I do let her watch a little - PBS cartoons - in the morning when I'm getting ready or when I am doing her hair.) One part of the show has the main character holding up a letter while he asks the kids watching, "What letter is this?" Astrid surprised me by correctly shouting back - "R"!

And when writing her name on her clothes in permanent market (for preschool), she shocked me by identifying the letters: A, S, T, R. When I quizzed her on it again shortly afterward, she was able to tell me the letters: S, T, and R. That's pretty amazing, especially since I haven't been focusing on this. I think she gets it passively by doing her alphabet puzzle, and hearing the names of each letter from me.

Also, when we were stopped at a gas station, she looked up at some signs in the strip mall and started identifying letters - saying - O, S, C, D. Great to see that she's starting to recognize letters in environmental print as well.

She's so eager to learn. I'm sure it's only a matter of time until she starts pointing to everything and asking me what it says.

Writing
Astrid's also starting to imitate writing letters on her own. Recently she wrote what looked like three w's. U. inquired, "Are you trying to write www as in a URL?"

I have some writing workbooks for preschoolers that I've been saving. They've got letters, words, and sentences in dotted lines so that they can be traced over. Might be fun for her to start practicing writing, but I'm not going to pressure her. (I have bad memories of my mother trying to get me to write at a really young age and it was not pleasant.) But as long as she's eager to learn and gets a lot of pleasure and a sense of accomplishment out of it, I will support it.

Monday, February 11, 2008

Grandma feeds Astrid Korean food for lunch

Astrid and I spend every Monday at my parents' house (aka Grandma & Grandpa's house), and most often my mom will cooked us a Korean feast for lunch.

She loves feeding Astrid rice wrapped in dried seaweed (she makes sure she shakes off the salt), chicken, all sorts of Korean side dishes that aren't spicy, and I've recently noticed that she's been giving her kimchee (with the spicy stuff rinsed off of course).

Meanwhile I get to enjoy my favorite Korean dishes. And when Astrid is done, my mom will take her out into the backyard and push her on the swing so I can finish eating my lunch.

Astrid just saw these photos and pointed and said, "Look! I eating with Grandma."

Saturday, February 09, 2008

Carnival in Memorial Park

The Girl Scouts held a fundraising carnival at Memorial Park this afternoon. We ate our tamales in the park after shopping at the Farmer's market as usual, and then stopped by to check out the bouncy house, games and prizes. I spent $5 which equated to tons of fun in the bouncy house (unlimited time for the kids), played 4 games, and came away with a bubble blower in the shape of a monkey for Astrid in the end.

Astrid's 1st dance class

This morning was Astrid's first "Into to Dance" class. The first 30 minutes is ballet, and the last 15 minutes is tap dancing. I had wanted to sign Astrid up for dance class for some time now, but every studio and dance class only accepts kids 3 and over. With her turning 3 in two months, she's just now eligible. What a cutie she is in her pink leotard, pink tights, and pink ballet slippers.

She was so excited about dance class, that when I got up this morning, she had already laid out her outfit and shoes on her bedroom rug, ready for mom to put them on her. Amazing how she remembered all the separate pieces, as I purchased them a week ago and quickly put them away. When I told U. about it he commented, "Organized just like her mother." =) It was hard to get a clear shot with all the jumping around in excitement (on Astrid's part - not mine).

Each class is color coordinated. The youngest class (Astrid's) is all pink. I saw another class dressed entirely in blue.

In addition to the dress code, they're also strict about the girls having their hair up in a bun, and no skirts. Astrid's hair is too layered to pull back into a single bun, (and I didn't want to use hairspray - she's too young for that), so I just hoped the double bun would be okay. But I still got yelled at (or rather chastised) by the owner for not tucking the strings of her ballet shoes in. I took ballet classes as an adult, but we never had those drawstrings so I just thought you tied them into a bow.Getting up early on a Saturday morning to get to dance class by 9 AM was well worth it. I'm preferential of course but I thought Astrid was the cutest girl there and I had a smile on my face the entire time watching her.Adorable!

This was a substitute teacher. Her regular dance instructor will be back next week.

One thing that's not ideal: there's only a small window high up to watch the girls, so you have to stand the entire time in a narrow hallway, crowded by other parents, to watch them. And the window is covered with some film, which makes taking photographs nearly impossible. (I think it's there so the dancers aren't distracted.) So I had to take these photos through a small hole where the flim was pulled off. Not ideal like I said, but still a lot of fun to watch and Astrid loved it.After 30 minutes they let the girls out to change into their tap shoes. Or more precisely, for their mother's to change them into their tap shoes.When class is over the girls line up and curtsy when it's their turn and say "thank you" like perfect ballerinas.

Astrid cried when class was over exclaiming, "More dance class mom!" When I explained that class was over she asked, "Why?!" She just didn't want it to be over. It was new and exciting, and fun. I'm glad that I was so determined to get her enrolled in a dance class now, rather than waiting until she turned 3. She's ready now and already asking me about when she can go back to dance class (because like she tells me "I have to bance mom.")

Friday, February 08, 2008

Yummy lemonade!

We don't allow Astrid juice, but once I let her take a sip of lemonade at Philippe's, (she loved it!), and now she will request it at a restaurant. So occasionally we'll allow her a special treat of her own lemonade drink. Our waiter was nice enough to put it in a coffee cup with a lid so that it wouldn't spill.

Wednesday, February 06, 2008

Astrid's shadow

Astrid loves looking at her shadow (and mine). So tonight before bed, I turned a desk lamp towards the wall to let Astrid see her entire shadow. And let her shadow play for awhile before bed.

Astrid acts in her first production

The LA Zoo has a performance theater for kids. Twice daily they have volunteering kids dress up and perform roles in a production. Today's productions comes from a children's book called, "The Mitten."Astrid played the part of the "Grandmother". It was really sweet to see. I was excited for her!

I peeked in the back and got a pic of her getting dressed in a gray shawl and old apron, and saw her playing with the other kids. By the time she got on stage though she was really shy. Not surprising because she went on first, and was isolated from the other kids on that chair off to the side of the stage. She had no idea what she was doing, or what to expect. The story starts off with a grandmother knitting mittens for her grandson.The MC feeding Astrid her lines. He was great with the kids.Here you can see the entire stage, complete with a fake Christmas tree, and winter landscape background.The story continues that the grandson drops one mitten and it gets blown into the forest where the other animals find it and climb into it one by one. It was really cute to see all the kids dressed up in their costumes.The grandson finds the mitten and it's all stretched out and HUGE.The kids taking a bow (to the roaring applause of family members).Afterwards when I approached Astrid on the stage, she looked like she was about to cry. Many of the other kids had performed in this production before, but it was Astrid's first time. It was the perfect role for her because all she had to do was sit there, but it might have been more fun for her to play an animal and hide behind the mock glove with the other kids.

(We went back a week later for the zoo's Chinese New Year celebration, and U. had the opportunity to watch the theater performance, but Astrid had a major case of stage fright and did not want to volunteer. She just buried her face in Papa's shoulder and when we asked her if she wanted to be the "mouse" she just shook her head "no" and was on the verge of tears. I hope she gets over her fear because she was so darn cute up there on stage.)