Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Happy Birthday Lolli!

Today my little girl turned four years old! Contrary to how many parents of a preschooler feel, I can't believe she is JUST turning four. Academically she's already doing some first grade work. She can reason and draw her own conclusions like a third grader. She likes to gab like a preteen. She loves heeled shoes, purses, and bling like a high school girl. Where has the "little girl years" gone?

In honor of her blog name, I made Jello lollipops for her to share with her preschool friends and decorated (with Air Boss' help) over 50 sugar cookies. Some of these cookies were made into cookie lollipops for her friends in her Bible study group.

Just the other day, I had told the kids their blog names. Lolli laughed when I told her name was Lolli.

"Do you know what Lolli is?" I had asked.

"No. What does it mean?" she asked, laughing just because it sounded funny.

"Lolli is short for 'lollipop.'"

While 'Shroom was cracking up over that, I told him his blog name.

"Your name is 'Shroom."

He must have been laughing so hard while I said his name that he didn't hear me.

"Shrimp?! Why am I called Shrimp?!" he exclaimed.

Now it was Lolli's turn to laugh.

"No - it's " 'Shroom,' " I tried to correct. Alas, the correction attempt was in vain. The kids were having too much fun giggling at their names and 'Shroom's name had morphed into Shrimp.

As I told Lolli that the birthday lollipops (both Jello and cookie) were in honor of her name, I realized that I have only a few months to figure something out . . .

. . . how to turn mushrooms into birthday treats.

(let me know if you have any suggestions!

Friday, April 25, 2008

Back at Home

Today Air Boss and the stuffed travel companions have returned safely to L.A. and the kids and I are so happy to have them home. Err . . . except for the fact that 'Shroom and Lolli never knew that George and Mimi had left the state of California.

George and Mimi, originally brought along to "fill space" in the laptop/camera bag, have truly had a fun-filled full adventure. Places to go, people to see, things to do . . . they sure lived it up. Air Boss was quite diligent in capturing their fun moments--and . . . some embarrassing moments (like getting drunk silly during a business dinner and heaving in the near-by bread basket). You'll definitely have to check out Air Boss' flickr for more photos! http://www.flickr.com/photos/radioflyer007/sets/72157604650550871/

In the meantime, we're all happy to be back together.

And in case you're wondering where George and Mimi are sleeping tonight (now that their doubles are sleeping with 'Shroom and Lolli), they've been stashed in the laundry basket waiting for the next wash cycle!

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

George and Mimi's Excellent Adventure

This past week, Air Boss has been in Boston on a business trip. Along with his laptop, clothes for the week, webcam, gifts for family and friends, he wanted to bring his camera. His Canon 20D is usually packed in its own bag but with the limited luggage/carry-on allowed these days, he managed to shove the camera in with his laptop – minus the camera bag. No worries – the camera was well-padded with ‘Shroom’s and Lolli’s well-loved stuffed friends, George and Mimi.

Originally brought along as “packing material” for the camera, George and Mimi have become the VIP’s of Air Boss’ latest trip to the East Coast and the newest form of entertainment for ‘Shroom and Lolli as they laugh at the photos back here in LA [to date, they are still confused as to how they can sleep with George and Mimi each night and yet see photos of them in Boston; they have not caught on that Daddy has confiscated the laundry-day “doubles” as his travel buddies].

On the plane with Air Boss (no extra plane tickets required as they are “lap-animals” or rather “tray-animals”):

Visiting some familiar sights in our beloved Beantown:

The Charles River (they’re deciding whether or not the insulated lunchbox would suffice as a floatation device)

Our home church (sitting atop the A/V soundboard equipment)

Our much missed Green House (Lolli is relieved to see the house is still green)

Riding the Red Line of the MBTA (Mimi must have taken this photo)

Air Boss even took them to work with him. As evidenced by the photo below, he had recruited their assistance (along with another fellow primate) with some heavy-duty number-crunching.

They were even helping a fellow colleague out on his work, too!

They had some wise insight on a global teleconference meeting. Unfortunately for the primate and the fowl, no one heard them (Mimi doesn’t have a mouth) nor took them very seriously.

Apparently, not everyone was amused by their antics or willingness to “help.”

They’ve earned their keep and each day has been a long a tiring one. Thank goodness for Air Boss’ king-sized bed in which the three of them can snooze the night away.

We miss you Daddy! Come home soon!

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

The Pro's and Con's of Repeating a Grade*

Well, the list of pro’s and con’s are apparently skewed "slightly" towards the con’s. Where are the pro’s for grade retention?

1. Academic achievement of kids who are retained is poorer than that of peers who are promoted

2. Achievement gains associated with retention fade within two to three years after the grade repeated

3. Kids who are identified as most behind are the ones "most likely harmed by retention"

4. Retention often is associated with increased behavior problems

5. Grade retention has a negative impact on all areas of a child's achievement (reading, math, and language) and socio-emotional adjustment (peer relationships, self-esteem, problem behaviors and attendance)

6. Students who are retained are more likely to drop out of school compared to students who were never retained. In fact, grade retention is one of the most powerful predictors of high school dropout

7. Retained students are more likely to have poorer educational and employment outcomes during late adolescence and early adulthood

8. Retention is more likely to have benign or positive impact when students are not simply held back, but receive specific remediation to address skill and/or behavioral problems and promote achievement and social skills

* Taken from the National Association of School Pyschologist’s (NASP) 2003 “Position Statements on Student Grade Retention”

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Breaking the News

writing lesson
Originally uploaded by
Today my heart broke into about a million little pieces. This afternoon I told 'Shroom that he would be staying back and repeating kindergarten.

Although Air Boss and I had known this was a possibility before school even started last year, we had hoped that he would somehow turn a new leaf during kindergarten, discover himself, and "wake up and smell the coffee" so to speak. We've waited and waited and we're still waiting. In the meantime, we've watched him struggle with his homework, continue drawing like a three-year-old, play around his classmates but never really with them, and all the while try his hardest to keep up with his school work.

It wasn't until earlier this calendar year that we sat down with 'Shroom's teacher and a couple of his special ed teachers to discuss the possibility of rentention. I had been fighting this possibility since September and was determined that I would do anything and everything to keep him on tract with the rest of his peers--at whatever cost.

Well, the costs have been quite high. On numerous ocassions, 'Shroom has cried during marathon homework sessions. What should have been easy 5-10 minute assignments were 1-2 hours of torture for both him and me (and Air Boss and Lolli who were witnesses of my fits of frustration). Somehow, despite our best efforts--and "our" meaning the entire family as we each helped out the best way we could--God has created 'Shroom to be a bit younger than his biological age.

Although we have been quite open to friends and family about 'Shroom's impending retention, Air Boss and I hadn't told 'Shroom about this little detour to first grade. I didn't know when to tell him or how to tell him.

Well, this afternoon as we were going over his reading assignment and reviewing his Dolce sight words ('Shroom all the while struggling), I had the urge to let him know. I put away the word ring, closed the reading book, and sat him down on my lap.

"'Shroom, do you know what comes after kindergarten"?

He looked at me with his big brown eyes and said without hesitation, "First grade."

I could tell that he knew something was coming up. Something important.

"Your friends will be going to first grade next year. But you won't be. You will be in kindergarten again." I never took my eyes off his and in some way, I wish I had. If I had, I wouldn't have seen the bewilderment, the bewilderment then turn into understanding, and finally with the understanding, his tears.

I had underestimated my son. I had assumed that retention for him wouldn't be a big deal and that he would take it in stride (or perhaps not even really notice). Perhaps that was my wishful thinking.

I held him and we cried and cried. I tried to explain to him why in a way that he would understand. I didn't want him to feel punished for learning too slowly and not keeping up. I wanted to encourage him that by being in kindergarten again, he would be able to keep up better and learn the things he hasn't yet been able to learn.

I listed all his friends in class and told him that they would be going to first grade. I also told him that he would be making friends with a whole new class and that he would have fun making more friends.

"Do you think I love you any less for not going to first grade next year?" I asked him.

He shook his head "no."

I hugged him and we cried some more.

I don't know if this will be the best decision for 'Shroom but I can only hope and pray that we're making the right choice. As one mom who had retained her child said, "ultimately you are changing the course of your child's life . . . . and you have no idea how it will turn out." That is true. And it is also true that if 'Shroom were to advance onto first grade with his class, I still wouldn't know how it would turn out.

I am so grateful that despite being the mom to 'Shroom and Lolli, it is God who is the Master Planner of their lives.

Anyway, graduating from high school at age 17 is way over-rated. =)

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Spring Break Visit

We've just wrapped up a great week with Boston Grandma and Grandpa (my parents). They were gracious in coming out to visit us - coordinating their schedule with ours so that they would time their visit during 'Shroom's spring break. Both Lolli and 'Shroom were thrilled at having Poh-Poh (Grandma) and Goong-Goong (Grandpa) stay with them for almost a whole week!

[there is nothing wrong with the pixelation of your monitor; the above elephant is constructed of LEGO bricks!]

The first couple of days together, 'Shroom would timidly ask Poh-Poh before he hugged and kissed her good-night, "Are you going to be here tomorrow?" It was as if he was afraid that Poh-Poh would disappear back to Boston while he slept at night. After the second night, he didn't ask anymore.

Since our tiny 1,000 SF apartment would be a tight squeeze for the six of us (and since it doubles as Air Boss' home office), my parents made arrangements for us to spend most of our week together in a time share unit in Orange County. Withing hours of their arrival, I packed up the kids and the parents and headed down to San Clemente (the half-way point between LA and San Diego). Poor Air Boss stayed behind and finished out the work week before driving down on the weekend to join us.

In the meantime, we had fun visiting LEGOLand, doing some outlet shopping, and seeing beach after beach (the weekend weather topped off at a scorching 98 degrees!). Here are some of our LEGOLand photos:

Lolli and Goong-Goong enjoying a ride through the LEGO safari in what Lolli calls "the cheetah car." Aparently they have the driving thing down pat as neither care to "drive."

One of the rides required an HOUR LONG wait. Goong-Goong and Poh-Poh, ever the generous, giving and self-sacrificing ones, stood in the long line and waited the hour while 'Shroom and Lolli got to play with the Duplos in the waiting area.

Like I said, Lolli has the driving thing down-pat. This girl can't wait to drive (and don a wedding dress among other "much older" things). This is a three-year-old girl going on 16!

Meanwhile 'Shroom was just happy being lion food. How can kids with the same gene pool turn out so differently?

Well, now that Goong-Goong and Poh-Poh are back home in Boston, the kids can't wait until the summer when we'll finally get our turn to visit. Poh-Poh had told the kids that we'll be coming to visit once 'Shroom is done with school.

"When will that be?" Lolli had asked.

"That will be in three months," my mom replied.

"How long is three months? Is it longer than a minute?"

Well - here's to a long three months! I know it will pass quickly but for a little girl who can't wait to see her Poh-Poh and Goong-Goong, it may as well be forever!

We miss you Poh-Poh and Goong-Goong!

A Missed Opportunity

Over a week ago, I decided to get my hair cut. I'm the type of person who gets my hair cut about once a year and each time I get it cut, it's about a year's growth. For an average person, that would be about six inches. My hair is not average. It's an outta control weed. I think I grow about 8 inches in a year.
Well, I'm sportin' a new look. A new look that is ten inches shorter! I'm bummed because I didn't know how much was going to be cut off. I'm not upset at the stylist (I think she did a great job) but I'm upset that because I had always kept my long hair up in a twist, I didn't even know how long my hair was until it was chopped off and on the floor of the salon.
The first snip was a shock as I watched the long lock of hair slide down the black cape onto the floor. "How long was that?" I had asked the stylist. Exactly ten inches. Too late. My hair was not dry (it was freshly washed for the cut) and it was not bunched in a ponytail - two requirements (besides the minimum ten inches) to donate to Locks of Love. Bummer. What a wasted opportunity.

Well, I have another year-and-a-half to grow it out another ten inches. In the meantime, I'm enjoying feeling about two pound lighter!