Thursday, August 28, 2008

The Anthony School

Gabi has really enjoyed her first week of preschool. She attends five mornings a week (8-11:30) and is in Ms. Laura's class.

Cubbies and bags for Gabi's class

Preschool Orientation
Last week, the school had a party for all the "PreK3" kids to meet each other and their teachers as well as see the school playground and classrooms. Gabi found a bag with her name on it and wanted to bring it home. The only way the teacher was able to convince her to leave it there was by promising her that she could bring it home after the first day of school.

Samantha and Gabi spent some time standing at the look-out
(Samantha, the director's daughter, is in Ms. Mandy's class.)

Venturing down the slide

Pretend play at the counter

Bella exploring Gabi's school playground

Ernie and Gabi checking out their classroom

Gabi selected puzzle pieces to spell her name - correctly. Ernie then used some to "spell" his name with random letters. Hey, they are 3... at least he knows that letters are used to make names! And our Gabi girl is advanced in academic skills, but Ernie was much more adventurous on the playground. I watched Gabi just follow Ernie around while he ran and played, which reminded me of how Gabi trailed after the energetic Martin back in Atlanta (except that Martin used to pause occasionally to make sure Gabi was still there).

Ms. Mandy's classroom has a little potty with "magic soap"

We had Annabelle's birthday party the day before school started, which wore both girls out and made a somewhat-early bedtime very easy. Lolo stayed after the party to help until the girls were down.

Lolo reading Gabi's bedtime story the night before school starts

First Day of School

Gabi ready for her first day at the Anthony School

Gabi's a little shy at first, but Ms. Laura is wonderful with the kids

Apparently Gabi warmed up as soon as I walked out of the room. Her first activity of the day was gym, and Gabi later reported, "I walked around the red track. Some kids marched or ran, but I just walked." The second day, Gabi's big report was "I RAN, Mommy! I ran around the red track, and Mr. Tim helped me." After a few more days of school (and a conference with the teacher), I have pieced together that they are supposed to run/march on the red painted border of the gym floor while music plays and walk when the music stops. Gabi refused to run the first day, but the gym teacher (Mr. Tim) is very good at encouraging the kids to participate, and the second day he took Gabi's hand and called "Come on!"

Gabi's other story from gym is, "The tiger was going to eat the name." The school mascot is a panther, and, as you might guess, there is a panther and then the word PANTHERS painted on the gym floor.

Ms. Laura's 3-yr-old class
(Gabi, Ava, Grant, Issac, Abrielle, and Ernie)

Ms. Laura takes pictures throughout the day to share with us parents, and she will make a photobook for the kids at the end of the year. How perfect is that for my child's teacher! After being the unofficial photographer of the playgroup in Atlanta (and making playgroup photobooks for everyone), I am addicted to pictures.

Gabi making dot art

Gabi told me that she went to the cafeteria and made a picture. I asked if she drew in the cafeteria, and she said, no, she drew her picture in the classroom, but in the cafeteria she did "dot-dot-dot" (demonstrating by pressing her hand onto the floor with each verbal "dot"). She does a wonderful job of conveying her thoughts, although (from the above picture) I think perhaps they were in the art room rather than the cafeteria. (Note: Later, Ms. Laura explained that they walk through the cafeteria to get to the art room.)

The next day, she told me that she drew Annabelle and there were numbers on the paper. When Gabi pulled the paper out of her bag, I saw that she had written numbers herself. She read them to me (backwards) -- "7 7 1 8 7, and then that's an E" (from her tone of voice, I could tell she got to the "end" and realized that E was a letter instead of a number). Gabi says that both people are Annabelle, to which Lola responded, "Oh, they match." But Gabi said, "No, they don't match, because one is decorated" [she pointed to the outline of the top head] "and the other is not. This one doesn't have hair." Gabi added, "The circle is a loaf of bread with raisins on it" [pointing to the bottom left corner] "and that is my handprint" [top left]. Bella got ahold of this paper and put one corner in her mouth, so I decided to get a photo-copy before it was destroyed.

Gabi's drawings of Annabelle

Gabi in the classroom

After the first day, Gabi told me that they went on a walk inside circles, which Ms. Laura explained was a tour of the school. They have large chains (like mini-hula-hoops connected together) to keep the little ones in line without losing anyone. It's really fun to hear Gabi's story about what she did at school, although sometimes it is also nice to get a bit of extra info from the teacher's perspective.

Ava, Gabi, and Issac at recess

Bringing home her bag

Second Day of School

Outside the front doors on day 2

Gabi is very excited about learning Spanish in school as well. Last night she told us "green means verde" and sang a "verde song." Tonight she told us the words for red and black, although she did need a bit of a reminder. She then asked about more words in Spanish, so Daddy taught her rosa and azul (because her pajamas are pink and green, and Daddy's are blue) and I taught her Buenos Noches (because it was bedtime).

Gabi as Belle and Ava as a butterfly

During dress-up time, Gabi was the first one wear the Belle dress. Grey wanted to be Belle but agreed to wait her turn. Then Gabi said, "Okay, you can be Belle. I'll be the Beast." The teacher put in a Beauty and the Beast CD and played the theme song, and Beast Gabi spontaneously danced with Belle/Grey. Isn't that the cutest story about sharing!

Gabi (as the Beast) dancing with Grey (as Belle)

Grey only attends on T/Th, so this day was Grey's first day of school. (Hence the lack of Grey in the class picture from Monday.) All-in-all, the Anthony School seems like a fantastic environment for our Gabriella. Getting to school by 8 AM is tough, as preschoolers feel no sense of urgency, but it hasn't been as bad as I expected thanks to a baby who likes to wake me up at 6:30.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Annabelle's First Birthday

Party Time!
We hosted a wonderful birthday party for Annabelle on Sunday (Aug. 24, the day before her actual birthday), and many friends came to celebrate with us.

One-year-old Annabelle loves to walk
(with a little help)

Singing "Happy Birthday"

Bella sucking all the frosting off her fingers

Yay! I like birthday cake!

And apple juice, too.

Bella, you're a mess!

20 minutes later... a very happy Bella is finally finished eating cake

Giving Lolo a frosting kiss

Frosting kisses are funny!

Gabi was so excited for Annabelle's birthday party that she started running around in circles and squealing as soon as the first guests arrived. Annabelle thought that was fun, so she started screaming in delight, too. We very quickly had a noisy house, but the kids definitely had fun.

Gabi playing chase with Cousin Steven

Bella and Peter

Cousin Steven and Annabelle

Annabelle found some DVDs

Gabi bouncing on Cousin Steven

Party Guests
Thank you to all our friends who helped make Annabelle's birthday party so fun! And a special thank-you to Lolo and Lola, who helped provide party supplies and get the house ready. I have many pictures of everyone playing and enjoying themselves, but there's only room on the blog for the family group shots.

Franchelle with Ward (7 yrs), Alex (5 yrs), and Evan (2 yrs)
(and the guest of honor)

Rachel and Matt with Meredith (2 yrs) and Russ (7 months)

Julie with James (2 yrs this week) and her mom

Elizabeth and Paul with
Patrick (6 yrs), Isabel (4 yrs), Peter (2 yrs), and Evelyn (1 yr next week)

Michelle and BJ with Caleb and Camryn (twins, age 9) and Corinne (2 yrs next month)
(These are my cousin's cousins who moved to Little Rock the same weekend we did!)

Donna and Alan
(Donna and I worked together when we lived in L.R. before.)

Cousin Steven (8 yrs), Ninang Sylvia, and Ninong Edward with the birthday girl

One Year Old
On her actual birthday, Annabelle asked for banana ("nana") for breakfast. "Nana" used to refer to both banana and Mama, but fortunately she has since learned to call me "Mama" instead (most of the time). She's got "Dada" down pat.

Annabelle's favorite fruit, banana

Annabelle practiced standing on her birthday

Crawling through the door

Got the star! Now to figure out how to put it back...

More practice standing...

and looking for trouble under the bathroom sink.

Annabelle eagerly grabbed her new bunny and baby doll to play with until she noticed that she also got a box! The box definitely won out as her favorite present. When I post her birthday videos, you'll see that Annabelle is very good at steering herself around the room when she has a "walker" to support her.

Bella driving her new box all around the house

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

New Friends

We have made many new friends very quickly here in Little Rock. We've actually kept fairly busy, with various playdates and other activities. Last Friday, a group of guys (and their families) from Michael's high school came over for dinner.

Gabi introducing Bella to Hannah

Russ pulled Bella's hair

Gabi sharing her baby dolls with Ellie

Meredith and her mom, Rachel

Ellie reading a book with her mom, Sharon

The guys: Matt (and baby Russ), another Matt, Adam, Michael, and Brad

One of the guys in Michael's program who also just moved here is named Hadi. His wife, Nisreen, has only been in the US for one year, doesn't have a car and cannot drive, and is home in the apartment with her newborn all day every day with no way to get out! I don't know how she does it. I put a third carseat in the backseat of my car and brought them over to our house one afternoon, but she only wanted to stay for a short while because Tameem doesn't sleep well so she needed to get back home to rest during his naptime. We'll have to get together more often.

Tameem enjoyed our exersaucer

Tameem and Nisreen

We have made more new friends as well. One of my cousin's husband has a cousin who just moved to Little Rock the same weekend we did, and they now go to our church. In fact, our church has a very active "young adult" (20s and 30s) group which has helped us meet many other people. And, of course, you can never over-estimate the value of having family nearby. We love being so close to Lolo & Lola, Ninong & Ninang, and our cousins. Tomorrow morning, Gabi has a party at her school playground to meet all her new classmates, so that should be fun.