Sunday, February 8, 2015

Mtn View Parent Observation - 2nd Year

Our official picture from the class placemat (photo credit to Sharon). When James wears overalls, Julia also insists on wearing them. She’s dressed in James’s from last year.

Teacher Diane is Julia and James’s teacher for their second year at Mountain View Parent Observation Preschool (here’s the post about their first year), where they attend one day a week. (The class is actually only offered once a week so they also attend Milestones Preschool. So my kids attend two preschools but I’m not a tiger mom.)

First day of preschool for their second year at Mountain View Parent Observation Preschool
Last year we had three Jameses in the class, though technically one was a Jimmy. This year’s class has three Julias. Who knew the sixtieth most popular name of 2009 would be so popular? And instead of three sets of twins in a class of twenty like last year, this year we’re up to four.

Bouncing face-off with Rachel and Emma, another set of twins in the class

Dancing in class
Pounding nails involves lots of concentration so out comes James’s tongue!
Since the kids are a little older, this year’s class has more imaginative and pretend play-based projects like making astronaut helmets and ladybug wings. After creating those things the class wears them and plays together. Particularly memorable was the time the kids wear their newly created monster masks and bust a move to Monster Mash.

The kids go on a space walk in their milk carton astronaut helmets. Note the fit on James’s gigantic noggin.
My ladybugs

James in his monster costume
At the end of class it takes me two trips to lug the kids and all their gear and wet artwork to the car, so when I leave them in the play yard while I transport stuff that’s when they often talk and play with Teacher Diane. I notice that my twins are more extroverted when they’re interacting solely with Teacher Diane, as opposed to interacting with her in front of the class during circle time. 

James shows Teacher Diane his pizza.
Special James delivery!

While Teacher Diane and James look on, Julia blows out her real candles in a pretend cake.
One day we take a make-up class with Teacher Mindy’s 2’s class. This is their class from last year with last year’s teacher. This particular day James and Julia are extroverts and sing and do hand motions for all the songs. Back in their regular 3’s class they’re a little more reserved. In general they’re kind of average on the extrovert/introvert spectrum. I suspect Julia likes to be more extroverted but isn’t because unless James accompanies her (she’ll tell me she wants to participate in the middle during circle time but only if James joins her). Also, I think she doesn’t like the attention when there’s too many people, and during circle time there are 20 kids and their moms). She's like me when it comes to that. We're both extroverts in smaller groups.

My giants in the 2’s class. Were they this little only a year ago?
Another difference between my kids this year and last year is that now they’re just too big to both fit comfortably on my lap. They take turns on my lap week to week, and oh - do they remember if it’s their turn. James is also not as afraid of the vacuum. This year he simply leaves the room when class finishes so it’s a non-issue. He even comes in one day while it’s on, as though he had forgotten.

One on my lap and one on my back this year!
Papa visits the first and last days of school as well as some in between. Generally though he doesn’t come as many days as last year (though he comes nearly every time he’s in town), nor does he have quite the same entourage of little boys following him Pied Piper-style around the play yard.

Jenny helps me at school, too. Julia and James start the year following each other around from activity to activity. One day I try to have Jenny shadow James while I go off with Julia, but it doesn’t work well because Julia keeps gloating to James that she’s with Mommy. 

Papa helps Zachary pound nails.

James has just started writing his own name. Jenny assists.
By March they are fine playing apart (though they often still play together), and I’m sure it’s because they’ve gotten used to playing separately at Milestones where they’ve been assigned to different “centers” (smaller groups of kids that stay together during learning and play time). Often Julia finishes art before James and wants me to go with her to do the outside art project. Speaking of art, James has more patience and wants to finish his art projects, while Julia works on some a few minutes and then abandons them for another activity.

“Paint it again until it’s done right!”
Last year both kids were enamored with their classmate, Lyra. This year James likes playing with Caroline at the beginning of the year, and then makes a connection with Julia E. (it’s cute to hear my twins calls her by her first and entire last name) with whom he ends up having one-on-one playdates. Despite having lots of close friends at Milestones, our Julia doesn’t make a close friend at Mountain View Parent Observation. She does, however, request a playdate with tall blond dreamboat Andrew, because “I like to look at him.” They start so young! It’s also interesting that Andrew somewhat resembles James - both are tall, fair, and blond. The kids also have playdates with Kazumi from their class (I told her mom about this school during the twins’ last day in their ill-fated Bright Beginnings class) as well as old friends Zoe and Zachary.

James and Julia E. go down the slide together at Cuesta Park.
James with Julia’s crush, Andrew. Our Julia definitely has a type… and it’s her brother.
When one of the aides becomes pregnant and can’t finish the year, I volunteer and take her place for the second half of the year. While the other moms go to the mommy meeting at the end of class, I stay in the yard with the other aide - Andrew’s mom, Allison - to make sure the kids don’t do anything stupid and/or dangerous, and also to comfort kids who miss their moms. (Unfortunately Allison moves away and I’m the only aide the last few months.) 90% of the time I push kids on the swings. The last 15 minutes of class we put equipment away - ride-on cars, trikes, sand toys - and put out place settings in the little schoolhouse so the squirrels that come in after hours can have a spot of tea.

Big jump

The kids all dress up for Halloween, and exchange valentines for Valentine’s Day.

This year’s valentine. However, because of anti-food and candy policies, the ones they pass out at school have pinwheels and glowsticks. Julia got her hair cut and the stylist put her hair into pig tails which she hated. I knew they wouldn’t last so I took that opportunity to snap some pictures for their valentines. James happened to be wearing a shirt and tie that day because he rolls like that.

I had given up on Julia wearing pigtails and tights, but then I suggest it for Valentine’s Day and she goes along with it. She has worn pigtails and tights since.
Playing in the tunnel on Valentine’s Day
Teacher Tim from next door’s Mountain View Parent Nursery School visits the class several times. The first time is as Santa. Each kid gets a turn to sit next to him and tell him what they want for Christmas. James sits next to him but is visibly uncomfortable and sort of freezes. Julia is the only kid in class who stays in the audience to yell her present requests, sort of like she’s heckling Santa. Teacher Tim next returns a few months later, and puts on clown make-up in front of the class so that they won’t be afraid of clowns. Then he plays silly clown games with the kids. A few days later James watches me put on make-up and asks, “Mommy, are you dressing like a clown?” (Thanks, James.) Two months later Teacher Tim returns as “Silly Bunny” in a full Easter Bunny costume. James asks me if it’s Teacher Tim. Pretty sharp that one. I feign ignorance. “Is it?” I ask. I also run damage control and tell him “Silly Bunny” is different from the Easter Bunny.

James sits next to Santa and tells him he wants finger lights for Christmas. Santa gives him a bag just like all of James’s classmates. When he sits down, James looks inside and tells me, “These aren’t finger lights!”

Julia yells to Santa what she wants for Christmas. Julia asks/yells for another kitchen, despite receiving a new one on her birthday eleven days before.
Julia and I match.

The class watches the clown put on make-up. Julia is in the green in the front.
James and Julia eat carrots with the Silly Bunny.
Going for a swing after the Easter egg hunt
Since the kids are older, there are more field trips this year. The first is to Hidden Villa, a farm they went to on a field trip in last year’s class. Last year Julia and James refused to get anywhere near any of the animals, especially since that would involve walking near their nemeses - chickens! This year goes much better. Julia is more scared than James of animals, particularly the dreaded chickens, but she actually walks through their pen this time. And to my surprise she even enters the sheep pen. Their favorite part, however, is the garden. (Really, this isn’t too surprising since James loves food.) They crawl through the living plant tunnel there (which they refused to last year), and are excited to eat the broccoli and persimmon the docent gives them to try. My kids happened to have both broccoli and persimmons that day for breakfast. Clearly this is proof that I feed my kids the most random breakfasts!

This year James likes the garden tunnel.
Another field trip is to the Sunnyvale Community Theater. They see their first play there - a very simple and kid-friendly one called I Don’t Want to Go to Sleep. James is transfixed at first and asks, “Are these people real?” The kids enjoy it and all giggle in unison at the silly parts. James enjoys it but his enthusiasm starts to waver at the end and he asks audibly, “When will it be done?” Yeah, my thoughts exactly, kid. David Mamet this is not.

James waits for the play to start. He likes playing in the folding theater chairs.
Our next field trip is to Rinconada Park and to the Palo Alto Children’s Museum and Zoo. The kids all go to a classroom where they are introduced to different zoo animals and offered a chance to pet them. Not surprising to me, my kids decline.

James plays in the Children’s Museum.

Julia needs a closer look.

Julia and James with a python. The sign for the kids to use to indicate that they did not want to touch an animal was to cross their arms. I don't think Julia could cross her arms any tighter.
Mark accompanies us on our field trip to Happy Hollow. The last time the kids went there they were 18 months old, it was 88 degrees, they were too small for rides, and weren’t interested in the zoo. It was pretty miserable. This time they absolutely love it. We don’t actually make it to the zoo part but they LOVE the rides. This time instead of 88 degrees, it’s a comfortable 95. Because we are the only ones insane enough to go then, we have the park to ourselves. In fact, James and Julia do most of the rides three times in a row. 

A word about the twins and rides: they finally consented to us putting quarters in the little rides outside the grocery store two months ago. Before that they would sit on the rides but freak out if we even offered to put money in them. At Happy Hollow, their first ride is the biggest ride there - the roller coaster, and they ride with their arms up. We end up riding it nine times! Seven of those times are in a row!

James and Julia pass the kiddie rides and head straight for the scariest ride in the park.
There were some special activity days at school, too. On the first day of school the kids splash in kiddie pools. The second-to-last day of school features a picnic lunch on the grass and a petting zoo. James and Julia also get to ride ponies for the first time. After circle time that day the kids run through the sprinklers. My kids aren’t used to playing in sprinklers so their reactions are interesting. James is excited but stays really REALLY far away. Meanwhile, at first Julia keeps her distance but then as she gains confidence she runs up to the sprinkler and bends over so it only hits her butt. I’m just reporting the facts.

Playing in one of the kiddie pools on the first day of school
James isn’t quite sure what he thinks of the petting zoo and eyes the bunny suspiciously.
 James and Julia ride ponies for the first time. James looks like a little boy out of the 50s... except for the pony wrangler using her cell phone.

Julia’s favorite way to play with the sprinkler? With her butt.
The last day of class is the same for last year and this year’s class: a potluck picnic at Shoup Park. I also organize an appreciation gift for Teacher Diane in which the kids all contribute a heart they’ve decorated.

Frame with hearts decorated by each child in the class for Teacher Diane. The far left two hearts in the third row are James's and Julia's respectively.
Julia and James with Teacher Diane
Standing: Teacher Diane. Behind bench: Malia, Zachary, Luca. On bike: Davey. On bench: Ashley, my Julia, James, Emily, Eleanor, Julia H., Zoe, Maja, Caroline. On rock: Brian, Lucas, Adelynn, Emma, Rachel.
This is the last 3’s class offered by Mountain View Parent Observation Preschool. They are merging with the neighboring parent participation preschool, and as much as I’d like my kids to attend they’re really happy at Milestones Preschool, and drop-off has been good for them (and me!). I’m sad though not to come back.

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