Showing posts with label Leo in Second Grade. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Leo in Second Grade. Show all posts

Thursday, June 21, 2012

What I Wish I'd Known

Every once in a while something happens when it comes to Leo that makes me think I wish I'd known.

I wish I'd known eight years ago when I sat in a hospital bed on the upper east side of New York City, sobbing about my "broken" first born baby, that a teacher would someday write this about Leo on his last day of second grade:

"It's been a great pleasure to have Leo in my class and watch him grow, mature, learn to read and become the wonderful student he is...I know he will continue to do exciting things...Leo is a very special little boy who has touched all of our lives in a most profound way..."

My heart is full and I am so very proud.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Our Own Ginsberg

Yesterday Leo read his poem at the second grade “Poetry CafĂ©.”


Rehearsing the morning of, with an enamored audience. Harry = Riveted. (Look closely: Lucy (aka Pink Legs) was there too...


The real deal.

He wrote a "Bio Poem" (as in biographical):

Leo: Funny, Smart, Happy, Good

Sibling of: Ellie, Harry and Lucy

Who likes: Buzz Lightyear

Who feels: Happy

Who needs: Food

Who gives: Love

Who fears: Bugs

Who would like to see: DisneyWorld


Poetry was followed by a musical number: "I'm a Believer." (Leo is in the middle of the picture, behind the two boys with guitars--he has a guitar too but you can't see it).

I happened to see Leo’s speech therapist at the performance (the one who urged me to take Leo to the ENT to look into Leo’s congestion). She asked me if Leo had started on his new medication and for some reason I thought she was going to say she didn’t see a difference but instead she told me she’s already seeing a “significant” difference in his intelligibility and diction. So, finally some good news on that front.

And now for some poetry in motion (sorry, I couldn't resist):


Photo evidence: Louie on the move!

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Astronomy, Second Grade Style. Also: You Give Me Fever

About a month ago, Leo’s teacher sent a note home saying the class was starting a unit on planets and the solar system. The unit would culminate in a presentation in which each child would sing a song about his assigned planet.

Leo had Saturn.
And he took this Planet Business very seriously.

For weeks, "Saturn has great rings, we wondered what they were, now we know they're blocks of ice, which we saw as a blur" (to the tune of "Farmer in the Dell") has been positively reverberating through my head.

It brings to mind this, which is equally, um, memorable?

Leo has been, shall we say, planet-focused. He brought this drawing home from after-care.

I picked this place mat up for him and when I brought it home he was in love. He even insisted on bringing it to school (you may recall his insistence on bringing something to school every day). At first I balked about the place mat but he was so passionate I finally conceded. I mean, it is educational.

So now, at every meal there is an astronomy lesson. And much singing. I can think of worse things.
To be filed under You Didn't Expect This To Go Smoothly Did You?, my going back to work coincided with the babies both getting very sick at the same time. Of course. Until last week we had been pretty lucky in that they'd never both been that miserable at the same time. Well. That streak ended with double ear infections x two. (The above shot was obviously taken pre-illness.) I'm chalking it up to new daycare=new germs. Here's hoping they are developing immune systems of steel.
Really Mommy? Not feeling all that photogenic right now.
You can just tell Harry doesn't feel well here. Poor guy. Look at those puffy eyes.The weekend was once again, unseasonably warm, so I took both babies outside for fresh air as much as possible.

Friday afternoon Harry woke up from his naphot. I took his temperature and it was 105 degrees. I know babies can spike fevers but that was scary. I dosed him with ibuprofen and gave him a cool bath. And thus began the cycle that continued for three days. As soon as the ibuprofen wore off, his fever would spike. He's awfully cute in the bath (see above) but the baths are not so cute at 2 a.m. when he kept waking up exactly six hours post ibuprofen with 104+. Lucy never did get the high fever (thank goodness) but they took turns waking up for several nights straight, bringing back a good seventy-hours of newbornesque Up All Night exhaustion.
Things are better now. Eyes are brighter and appetites have returned.


Thursday, March 29, 2012

Speech. Again. And Some Needed Comic Relief.

I met with two of Leo’s teachers and his school speech therapist yesterday for his parent teacher conference

The good news is, academics-wise, Leo is doing well. His handwriting is progressing. He’s an active, eager participant in class discussions as he’s always been. As I mentioned a few months ago, Leo now attends the learning disabled class for language arts and that is apparently going (mostly) swimmingly (he's not as cooperative or enthusiastic about math, which he also goes to this class for but hey, he comes by that honestly--I was a horror in math throughout all my school years). The class is comprised of children with various, minor “learning problems,” some are not quite reading at grade level, some have dyslexia. If you saw these kids in the hallway, you wouldn’t look twice but they’re in this class because they need just a little extra help.

The “learning problems” teacher (let’s call her Ms. F since that rolls off the tongue a bit more gracefully, don’t you think?) adores Leo. She said he’s a hard worker, loves to be involved in class discussions. Her kids have welcomed him into the class and seem to really enjoy his presence. The interesting thing about this group of kids is they all know they have a problem. They know they’re different, that they’re not good at something and they need help. I don’t know this for sure but I’m going to take a leap and say that I don’t think Leo gets this (about himself) right now. I actually hope he never does but at the same time I suppose it’s a double edged sword—don’t you have to be fairly intelligent to grasp something like that? And I know Leo is incredibly intelligent. One of the many signs of just how smart Leo is? He completely knows when you are pretending to understand him. Most times he's not satisfied you get what he's saying unless you repeat it back to him.

In the meantime, Mrs. F proclaimed Leo the best reader in her class (remember, he’s in second grade and there are third graders in this class). Now for the comic relief: There is much reading aloud in her room and the other day after Leo read his portion, one of the children who really struggles with reading took a deep breath, sat back and said “I think Leo’s a genius.”

Now for the not so cute. Speech. Leo is continues to be very, very difficult to understand. He’s been in private therapy (supplementing what he receives in school) since November and when I asked his school speech therapist if she’d seen any difference since then? She answered a resounding No. My heart sank a little. I wasn’t expecting a miracle, but I guess I was expecting something. A little glimmer of hope. A small bone. At the same time, I obviously want her to be honest. Stroking my parental ego does no one any favors.

It’s baffling to me. Leo says some words and phrases (“That’s boring!” and “Mommy, I’m still hungry!”) clear as a bell. Others (and there are many, many others) leave us scratching our heads. We get frustrated. He gets impatient and understandably frustrated. Of course he does. He’s trying to communicate. We, his family, and to some extent his teachers, get a lot of what he’s saying by context. But we can’t expect the rest of the world to know Leo’s context just to be able to have a conversation with him.
Leo is an ebullient, chatty presence everywhere he goes, including the daily “snack and conversation” held in Ms. F’s room. The other children are extremely patient and curious and include Leo fully. They are, according to Ms. F, just dying to know what Leo is saying. Join the club.

And speech is everything. Or, speech is his bridge to the rest of the world. And the thing is, it’s not like Leo doesn’t have things to day. He’s not speech delayed anymore by any stretch. In fact, he won’t shut up (never thought I’d say that!). He is so friendly and outgoing and interested in the world and people around him. I just worry about how long that openness will last if he’s constantly met with “What did you say? Huh? I’m sorry Leo, I can’t understand you.” I’m afraid if we can’t help him figure this speech thing out, at some point, he’s going to shut down, to not even try.

Both his school and private therapist agree that they want him to be checked by an ENT for something physical (inflamed sinuses? Tonsils? Perhaps a palate issue though wouldn’t this have been discovered already?)—something—anything that night explain why speech is so largely unintelligible. His ABR last summer was all clear so we know he can hear. I’m looking into apraxia but that’s something for a neurologist.

I just want to help him. He has SO much to say.

Saturday, March 3, 2012

This Week in Shopping Cart History and Leo, the Peanut Expert

Nine weeks old
Nine months old.

I think it's safe to say we've come a long way, babies!

On Friday Leo was part of the second grade's "wax museum" to honor famous and accomplished African Americans (for Black History Month). Each student studied, wrote about and dressed as a famous person--Leo was George Washington Carver, a scientist, botanist and inventor who reputedly developed 300 uses for peanuts (ah, the things you learn in second grade).

I totally see a resemblance, don't you?

Leo took this project very seriously. He loves dressing in a costume and was very good about practicing his "speech" every night. It was a sweet concept. We walked into the classroom and there were thirty children all dressed in character. You pressed a red button (seen above, bottom right) and the children "came alive" and read a short paragraph about their accomplishments.

It never ceases to amaze me what a different person Leo is at school. I think that's all kids really. But look at him! So poised and earnest, his little hands resting on the chair, waiting for someone to push his button so he could give his speech. At the end of his talk he held up his two "props," a bag of peanuts and a jar of peanut butter. I had a coming attraction for this at home when, at the end of practicing his speech he spent several minutes with his head in the refrigerator searching and searching for...peanut butter. Of course.

Saturday, January 7, 2012

Change of Plans: Update

Leo started spending time in his new classroom at school. He's doing language arts (reading and writing) in the "Language and Learning Delays" classroom. Am I the first parent in history to be thrilled that their kid is in this classroom? It's a big step for Leo and we are so proud of him. Friday he came home with some worksheets that included synonyms which made me teary because, synonyms? Seems hard. I don't think I was doing synonyms in second grade. His teacher emailed me and said that Leo was very excited about the fact that he has his own desk in this classroom. Of course he was.

In other news:
Hi, my name is Lucy and I'M TEETHING.
You'll notice the alfresco Exersaucer photos here because? It was 65 degrees here today. In January. Considering last year at this time we had oh, about two feet of snow on the ground, I am not complaining, not at all.
Yup, still teething and yet, happy.

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Odds & Ends: Starting the New Year, Still Wrapping Up the Old

Oh, hi.

I used to be so good about taking little notes and remembering things I wanted to write about. And then, well. You know.
In other news, my sister's alma mater won the Rose Bowl. We are all very spirited about the Oregon Ducks. You can take the girl (and the boys) out of Oregon, but you can't take the Oregon out of us.

-Part of of my absence so far in the new year is related to the fact that the babies are having sleep troubles again, earlier in the evening (as opposed to middle of the night, well actually, in addition to middle of the night. Fun!). So my ability to finish a task in the early evening has been sorely affected. Lucy, or as I like to call her, "Flipper" figured out how to flip onto her stomach in her crib (and apparently, in her sleep). She then wakes up furious, confused and, well, screaming. I never much minded one screaming baby, but two? And when one wakes the other up? Not cool.

-As much as we all love the holidays and winter break, I think we were all a little relieved to get back to routine. Although I hesitate to call what we experienced a "break." Leo and Ellie both attended camps which were fabulous but for for the babies and me it meant practically living in the car for a week as we shuttled Prince Leo and Princess Ellie back and forth. It was of course worth it. They were occupied and enriched and best of all exhausted at the end of their busy little days.
-We finally had a cold snap. We experienced some "teens" weather. It honestly barely felt like winter until this week therefore it really didn't feel like Christmas at all. Hard to believe last year we were just beginning our month of being virtually buried under snow. What a difference a year makes, in more ways than snow.

-The following is ridiculously old news yet it's still newsworthy. The week before winter break, Leo appeared in the "mallet group" at his school's winter concert. Don't know what a mallet is in terms of music? Neither did I but it looks much like a xylophone. Anyhoo, Ellie and the babies and I went to see him perform. There was Leo, standing poised and proud, one of seven other (typical) second graders, malleting away, in perfect rhythm and time to old favorites like "Jingle Bells" and "Santa Claus is Coming to Town." I asked how it came to be that Leo was chosen to be in the "Mallet Choir." Apparently the aide that accompanies him to music class with the other second graders simply asked the teacher if Leo could do it and he said yes.

Simple as that.

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Change of Plans

Oh Leo. That boy just slays me. I go on and on about his speech and how worried I am about his intelligibility but he I have to say, he is doing great. We're suddenly having these conversations. And he's cracking jokes. And I'm having these little visions of what he's going to be like as a young adult.

This boy drives me crazy sometimes but he happens to be one of the most interesting, creative people I know. See above. Note the snowmen on the slide. He's wild about those snowmen, which I bought pre-kids--I know, I know, They're Hallmark: Don't Judge-- (and little did I know I'd someday have a little boy who loved singing Christmas toys year-round). He likes to "place" them where he's playing. Before I snapped this shot, the snowmen were on the patio table across from him. So the snowmen could see Leo? So he could see them? Who knows. Sometimes I find the snowmen sitting next to him on the couch when he's drawing, or facing him when he's playing Legos on the living room rug.

And I've decided a couple of things about Leo. Sure he takes a little longer to do certain things. To wit: This morning I sent him to the pantry to get more paper towels and he he took so long I'm pretty sure I could have gone to the store and bought more paper towels. No, he's not your "typical" seven and a half year old. But he is smart. Wise. Incredibly sensitive. The only thing "wrong" with him? He is the most stubborn person I have ever met. Once he makes a decision about something, look out. It's a long, sometimes painful (maddening, infuriating) road to convince him otherwise (it could be anything from wanting cheese crackers when there are none to refusing to get on the school bus in the morning).

Interestingly enough, the recent school evaluation (conducted every three years to determine proper placement/eligibility) we've been waiting for had a similar finding (except for the maddening, infuriatingly stubborn part). Leo's reading close to grade level. His receptive language is that of an eleven-year-old. And we're in an interesting little predicament now because for the past two and a half years, Leo has spent the bulk of his day in a self-contained classroom for "mildly cognitively delayed."

And now? Seems he's not technically cognitively delayed. Perhaps learning disabled or language delayed (I'd argue he has articulation issues vs. delays but whatever). The point is, Leo's "team" (teacher, therapists, school psychologist) are faced with something they say they've never really seen before. And they are working to create a new program for Leo. It's looking like it will probably be a combo of a typical classroom, some time in his present ("cognitive delayed") class and some time in the "language and learning delays" room.

And for the first time in the history of meetings with Leo's team, when I uttered the words "full inclusion," I was met with smiles and nods, rather than shrugs and "we'll have to see how it goes."

Things are about to get even more interesting.

Friday, October 21, 2011


An addendum to my last post about Leo in second grade:
I forgot to mention that he consistently scores one-hundred percent on his spelling tests (he has one every Friday). I hope I'm not jinxing anything by kvelling about it here but I just have to mention it. And I love it because I was a total spelling fiend in elementary school. Yes I was the kid who actually looked forward to spelling tests. So I love that Leo seems to be following in my spelling footsteps. (My expertise peaked in elementary school, I assure you.)
And full disclosure: we don't always study. Shhhh.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

When No News is Good News

Wednesday was Leo's parent-teacher conference. Gone are the days when I used to blissfully shuttle one kid (Ellie) to daycare and the other (Leo) to school (a few minutes early) so I could chat quickly (though meaningfully!) with Leo's teacher, all the while in the back of my mind hoping against hope that I would still make the last express bus to New York so I could not be too late to work.

This parent conference day was a little different. Sure I could have taken the babies, but I really wanted to have a full block of time to focus just on Leo. It's bad enough that I missed back to school night this year (first time missing it in history of parenting and I am still wracked with guilt about it).

My life is such that these days? A drive to an elementary school in the rain, where I can listen to what I want on the car iPod (Delta Spirit's "Devil Knows You're Dead") is a downright vacation. Seriously, it was so relaxing. One of the highlights of my week. And when I got to stop on the way home for lunch? I was ridiculously giddy. I got in an out of a car without having to load and unload the giant twin stroller. Party!

But I digress.

I was a little nervous about the conference. I mean, not nervous, just a little concerned that I hadn't been heard much from Leo's teacher so far this year. In year's past she's been chattier (emails), there's been more writing in Leo's communication book. This year? I got a note asking for a painting smock and for more money in Leo's lunch account. I had this whole scenario cooked up in my head that I'd get reports of Leo struggling "with all that's going on at home."
I've been facing with some pretty obstinate behavior (not exactly new). What's new is that I'm usually trying to enforce some kind of rule while holding an infant and a certain someone therefore seems to have a hard time taking me very seriously. I was curious if any of that behavior had bled over into school.

Apparently not. According to Mrs. L., Leo is doing great. He's well mannered, polite, does what he's asked to do. He's almost finished with the Edmark Reading Program Level 1, is taking Spanish and, well, she honestly had only good things to say about him. The only concern is the speech which is not a surprise of course and we're being proactive about that (the private therapy is taking longer than I'd like to get started but that's another story).

I for one am seeing some great things in Leo lately. He's definitely maturing. Just today, while Ellie was at swim class, a group of preschoolers (cute little girls, Leo's favorite target) passed us, like ducks in a row. Rather than lunging in for the hug, Leo held his hand out and said "High Five." One little girl looked concerned but gave in, and fived him. And the fact that I was able to take Leo to Ellie's swim class and he sat with me and stayed with me and the babies, all the while having a long and quite involved conversation with some of the employees of the community center where all those Ellie classes take place? Also huge. I'm very proud of him.

So all in all, second grade is off to a good start. Pfew.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

In Full Swing

Well, school seems to be off to a good start.

Gratuitous photo having nothing to do with school but ohmygoodness look at my boys!

I haven't heard much from Leo's teacher (which, sigh, means I haven't heard much). But yesterday was the first day of assigned homework and Leo did it right off the bus, with no argument (which probably means today will be a fight since I am committing the mom's sin of saying something went well).

When I was working, homework was always hit or miss. The aftercare teachers would usually do it with him, but sometimes they'd forget, or Leo would refuse. And I always felt like #1 Working Mom when I got the end of the week report and there were several gaps in the homework section. So we'll see how it goes since I'm home for now. I'm making him do it right away, and THEN he gets to go outside and play his weird game of torment/reward the dog with a tennis ball (don't ask).
Yesterday was Ellie's first day of ballet/jazz. She's taking it at a local community center rather than at the "dance school" where she went in the spring. I love this center. You know what else I love? Instead of having to pass through the "dance boutique" that taunts little girls with pink tutus and sequined dance dresses (of which she has several, don't worry she is not deprived in this area), I was greeted with a gently worn ballet shoe bin. You toss in your "old," too small ballet shoes and take a "new pair." Love it.

This is the same center where Leo takes swimming and where Ellie will also take tumbling/gymnastics and swimming (which starts today). I'm not sure who had more fun at dance class, Ellie or the babies. Those babies were the bell of the bench outside the dance room. It was the nannies and me (which...hmm...this is a whole new world for me). There were a couple of moms too but it was heavily nanny. In typical form, Harry was fussing and then all out crying at one point. My new friend Anita the Nanny swooped in and took Harry into her arms (with my permission of course). He fell silent immediately and just stared at her with amazement. As did I.

The babies seemed to love all the attention (seriously, I guess it's been a while since they've seen baby twins around there because every few minutes another mom/nanny/community center employee would peek into the stroller and say "I heard there are some twins over here?") Lucy, her usual social self smiled and cooed and "chatted" with anyone who would make eye contact. Harry fussed and slurped his bottle and nursed in his usual sloppy way, spit up all over me and then was happy as can be, grinning and "talking" to his new found audience. Who needs Gymboree when you have the dance class waiting bench?

Ellie, meanwhile could not stop talking about the little stamps she got on her hand (two green stars) at the end of dance class. Excited really does not begin to cover it. For the rest of the day, Ellie would just say, apropos of nothing "I'm so excited I got to go to dance class today" and "I just love my stamps." There was much consternation at bath time about whether the beloved stamps would-gasp-get washed off.

This morning the first words out of her mouth were to Erin: "Mama! I get to go to swim class tomorrow!" That's when Erin informed her that she actually got to go swimming sooner than that, because tomorrow was now today. "I get to go TODAY?!" she squealed.

The unbridled enthusiasm (for the littlest things) of a four-year-old really does put it all into perspective.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Away They Go

No matter that Leo's bus didn't show up (hey, you can't have everything, right?) and I ended up driving him.

Leo is off to second grade, Ellie is back to pre-k.

Love these little people to death, but right now I am humming "It's the Most Wonderful Time of the Year."

Happy back to school to all!