Sunday, July 11, 2010

Riding the Alligator

Playing on the lawn by the Annenberg Apartments

By far, Nolan's favorite item at the apartment is the elevator. He keeps telling me he wants to "ride the alligator," and every time we wait for it to come up, he says, "kids in there!" He is so happy when the elevator opens and there is a family inside. Currently, he is eating some grapes and watching Cars on our mini-DVD player. He is so overtired that he had a meltdown earlier tonight. I think he needs some "down time" and an early bedtime tonight.

We went to the John Tracy orientation today. The Clinic is literally next door to our apartment building, and the 78 degree weather makes for a pleasant walk to school. The area is right by USC, so there are a lot of restaurants and stores in the immediate area.

The orientation was held from 2:00pm to 4:00pm. We were there a few minutes early, so we hung out in the courtyard with the magnificent 150 year old tree. I'll have to take a picture of it, because it is amazing. Most of the official "John Tracy" class portraits are taken in front of the tree, so you can see photos of it on their official website or blog.

For the orientation, we were taken into Nolan's room. I'll have to update this post tomorrow, because I am literally so tired I can't remember his teacher's name. Horrible, I know, but I'll be able to remember it tomorrow after I've had more than 4 hours of sleep! The classroom is wonderful: there is a play kitchen area with realistic play food, large foam blocks, a platform area with a small slide, and lots of large Duplo type bricks with train parts. The kids played while we filled out an information sheet. Lucas is in Nolan's class, so they got to meat each other!

Bloggy buddies meet face-to-face

Nolan's most anticipated item was the playground. John Tracy has a nice playground with canopies shading the structures. The slide is metal, so that children with cochlear implants don't have to worry about any static electricity causing damage to their CI programming. Nolan really loved the sand, and spent quite some time creating a little sand pile.

The parents were called inside for a brief meeting, where more information was given. The classroom uses a soundfield system, and it really does elevate the teacher's voice above the background noise. We were given a daily schedule, which is extremely detailed.

Every morning at 9:00am, we arrive in the classroom and the children are welcomed. The parents do a listening check on the child's hearing aids or cochlear implant, and then the children gather for circle time at 9:30am. A "Welcome Song" is sung with each child's name, and then the child will place their picture above their name on the wall. After circle time, the children are ushered outside to play and the parents go to their lectures.

Circle Time with the Fabulous Miss B.

The kids then have snack time after playing, then the class is divided into two groups. While one group is doing their language lesson, the other group is working on an art activity. Then the two groups switch. Lunch is at 12:00, followed by nap and rest time. The kids wake up from 1:45pm-2:00pm, put things away in their cubbies, then go outside to play. 2:15 is snack time, 2:30 is cooperative activity time, and the children are dismissed at 3:00pm. Parent-teacher conferences are held from 3:00-3:20, as needed. Children are also pulled out for daily individual sessions with the speech-language teacher- this time has been dubbed as the time to go for "stickers," as the children are given stickers when they go to work with their speech language teacher.

We were also introduced to Nolan's speech language teacher and the myriad other professionals who help our children learn to listen and speak. Honestly, the student:teacher ratio is so low it might be close to 1:1!

Dennis and I stopped by the local Ralph's to go grocery shopping, since we will need to pack Nolan's lunch each day. We had picked up a lunch box at the Ventura Target, so we just needed good lunch items (lunches must be ready-to-eat with no preparation required). I bought blueberries, strawberries, string cheese, PB&J, pretzels, yogurt, applesauce, and pudding. Nolan should have lots of good lunches this week, all with familiar foods that he likes. His teacher stressed the importance of not trying new foods during their stay here- enough of their lives are turned upside down (new school, new "home," new toys, new people). New food doesn't need to be added to the number of things that are different!

On Nolan's teacher's recommendation, we stopped by La Taquiza for dinner. Oh, my goodness. The food alone makes me want to move back to Southern California! I might have made myself sick eating so much- it was delicious! Once we returned, we took a trip on the "alligator" to check out the lounge on the third floor. There is a nice flat-screened TV and two microwaves in the lounge. We met a really nice Irish family in the lounge, but had to leave when Nolan unceremoniously wet through his clothes! He is now cleaned up and in his pajamas, and will be going to bed very soon.

I think I'll go to bed, too- school starts tomorrow, and it looks like it will be a very busy day!


Joey @ Big Teeth and Clouds said...

Sounds amazing as I'm sure it is being that it's the best of the best!

Herding Grasshoppers said...

Oh Leah, it all sound WONDERFUL!

Kind of like drinking from a fire hydrant, but wonderful!


mamatoadeafmiracle said...

You reacted the same way i did, overwhelmed and overtired. I mailed the laundry card!! Ask Kathleen if she received it. Have lots and lots of fun!!

xraevision said...

Oh Leah! I cried all the way through this post. I feel like I'm right there with you. Life after JTC is a bit rough. I hope you can take it all in and cherish Every Single Minute!

(Sorry I didn't get respond to your last email, but I was away for the weekend. Sounds like you got settled in!)

leah said...

"Drinking from a fire hydrant" is the best description- I might steal that for a blog title. SO much information, everyone on the same journey, and an entire fleet of professionals who truly CARE about these kids. This place is absolutely amazing. AMAZING.