Sunday, November 24, 2013

"A portrait of Avienne once a week, every week, in 2013."

Quarante-sept :: Enjoying a quick read before the day starts 

Avienne has started to climb pretty much anything she can. Beds are still a little too high for her, but she will climb just about any chair or footstool she comes across. Lately, I've noticed her grabbing a book and climbing into this chair while I pick out her clothes for the day or tidy up her room in the morning. It's really cute to watch her sit still for a rare moment and just read herself a story. She's always been into reading, but recently, she's started grabbing books or magazines or even junk mail, pointing to the words and pretending to read. I sure hope she enjoys books and stories this much in a few years when she will undoubtedly be tempted by iPads and the internet. 

Linking up with Jodi's 52 Project.


Monday, November 18, 2013

"A portrait of Avienne once a week, every week, in 2013."

Quarante-cinq :: Digging up rocks and dumping them in her lap - a new discovery.

We were at the park again for a birthday party this past Sunday, and Avienne was most interested in playing with rocks than slides or swings.  Once she discovered an abandoned shovel, she spent a good while shoveling rocks onto her lap, clearing them off, then shoveling them back on.  I love watching her discover something totally new to her, learning a new concept and developing new skills - she's just soaking it all up, all the time.  I hope she's always intrigued by new discoveries and willing to entertain new experiences.  It's what life is all about, and something that I really have to work at being better at, myself.  Becoming a mama gives me so much to reflect on about my own life and goals, and man, am I really grateful for that.

Linking up with Jodi's 52 Project.


"A portrait of Avienne once a week, every week, in 2013."

Quarante-cinq :: My very own park stair master.

Park days are some of the funnest.  The weather was so good for a couple of weeks, that we couldn't resist spending all our free time outside.  Sunshine is nice and all, but I live for some gloomy days. I think Avienne is right there with me - so long as it means she gets to hit up her favorite park and climb these stairs about a zillion times.  We're in a bit of a heat wave right now (90 degrees in November yesterday!), and I'm hoping it passes soon, so we can get back to park days.  And hot chocolate.


Thursday, November 7, 2013

↑  Headed to school. (This girl does not like backpacks!)

Before she was born, Gui and I talked about sending Avienne to preschool when she was the right age.  We were certain we would send her to a French immersion school so she would be exposed to French as much as possible while we're living in the US, but the school we want send her to accepts students age 2 and older.  In fact, all of the schools we looked into start accepting children at age 2, but we were hoping to get Avienne started sooner than that.  She seems to be happiest when she's around other kids (what kid isn't?) and there's no denying the benefits of children learning to socialize with peers early in life.  I was starting to see Avienne becoming bored with our routines, and I honestly, started feeling a little inadequate in terms of teaching her new things and keeping her interest.  

So, I started searching around for alternatives to French immersion, and stumbled upon a Chinese immersion school that allows children to start at 18 months.  Avienne just turned 16 months, but the director met with us and after a trial class, she offered to enroll her right away instead of waiting a couple months.  Kids can go for as few as 2 hours a week, but we want to expose Avienne to the language as much as possible without burning her out, so we opted to start by enrolling her for 4 hours a week.  

I know it seems a little out of the ordinary to send Avienne to a Chinese immersion school when neither Gui nor I speak Chinese, but we see only positives to exposing her to a third language.  She just finished up her second week at the preschool (8 hours total immersion), and we already see that she can understand much of what her teacher says and can respond to "hello," "goodbye," and "thank you" in Chinese. 

But, as is with many first-time preschoolers, the hardest part is leaving her for those two hours.  Apart from when she's sleeping, Avienne has never been more than a couple of hours away from me (or Gui), and she's never been left with anyone but family when she has been away from us.  So, dropping her off at school has been a huge transition for both of us.  We have already seen some improvement, but I think it will be a pretty slow process. She loves being at the school and cheerfully marches through the doors and down the hallway, but she cries the moment we step into the classroom.  The last two days have been the hardest for me (and probably for her, too), but I know she is well taken care of.  She is the youngest in her class, but there are never more than 4 students, so she takes up quite a bit of attention right now.  I've tried to keep up a routine when leaving, but I really have no idea if it helps at all.

Avienne is waitlisted for a full-time French preschool when she turns 2, but our plan is to keep up with Chinese on a part-time basis so her exposure to it now will not be wasted. I think once she is able to go without missing me, we'll start to see more evidence of language comprehension. It astonishes me to see older students at the school speaking and responding to Chinese with ease - even babes as young as two!

Does your child go to preschool? I would love to hear any tips or advice on how to make preschool transitioning any easier.


Monday, November 4, 2013

A portrait of Avienne once a week, every week, in 2013.

Quarante-quatre :: Dancing at a Dia de los Muertos parade

We got a little more than we expected when we attended this parade last week.  There was music and dancing and kids aplenty, and we were all pretty excited to be celebrating in true Austin fashion.  While we were standing together listening to the drums and watching the oversized skeletal bride and groom dance around, a little boy standing in front of us turned around and out of nowhere, shoved Avienne down onto the grass.  I hardly knew how to react, but my heart was racing so fast. The boy's dad, who was standing just next to him, didn't see it happen, so when I told him what his son had done, he asked him to apologize, and apologized to us, as well. Avienne was, of course, fine - just crying and probably a little confused, but she got over it quickly.  It certainly bothered me more than her, and I could feel myself shaking out of anger and feeling so unprepared. 

As aware as I am that Avienne will likely encounter this type of behavior many times as a child, before this incident, I had never thought about how I would and should react when it happens. Gui and I had a long conversation about it afterwards, and I think the whole thing helped us both put things into perspective when it comes to protecting Avienne and teaching her how to behave and deal with others.  There are obviously, still so many lessons I have yet to learn as a mama, but I'm counting on there being more occasions to teach me sooner than I'd like.

Happy Halloween!

Friday, November 1, 2013

Everyone here is sound asleep after a late night of trick-or-treating in the neighborhood, but I'm up looking through the pictures we took of Avienne's first real introduction to a Halloween tradition.  We had a blast showing her how to walk up to houses, knock on the door and ask for treats. She's at such a fun age now, and she's starting to become so independent, that I can barely remember how little our sweet little pea was one short year ago.  A few times tonight, she wanted to step inside and make herself at home, and other times, she wanted to trade the candy she had in her bag for the candy in someone's bowl. It was really funny to see her go through the ropes and point at houses whose doors she wanted to knock on.

Our friends came over with their kids to spend the evening with us, too.  It's so nice to have a big kid around to show Avienne and the other littler babes how it's done. By the end of the night, Avienne was signing "thank you" automatically after she grabbed some candy from a bowl, which made my mama heart feel pretty darn good.  Her learning process these days is sometimes so tangible.

We spent the better part of the evening out, and were all pretty worn down by the time we reached home base again. I'm not sure how, but it is so very exhausting to walk around the block and ask for candy. We had a few trick-or-treaters come by our place, too, but not nearly as many as we anticipated.  Which, of course, means that we now have way too many bucketfulls of candy lying around the house.

I sure hope y'all enjoyed Halloween, too!

TEXAS SARAH. All rights reserved. © Maira Gall.