Pre K

Pre K

Mill could not start Kindergarten this fall because of her November birthday. I strongly believe she would have done absolutely fine with kindergarten curriculum however I knew she’d benefit socially from a preschool experience. We decided to enroll her at the private, Christian school closest to our home (it came with great reviews from neighbors and colleagues).

When I visited the school, I was impressed with what I saw; sight words on the walls, daily schedules, letter identification, bookcases of age appropriate books, and clean spaces. I think I was expecting pre-school to look like the daycare facilities we toured when she was younger but this was far from that.

Millie and I went to drop off her emergency medical information and the administrator allowed us to visit her classroom and meet her teacher. Summer classes were in session so when we got to the classroom, Millie was more interested in meeting the students rather than her teacher. They were working on a, “write the room” activity and Millie just joined in. I met with the teacher while she worked and played. When it was time to leave, Mill cried and asked why I didn’t sign her up for summer classes! She was so ready for school.

Getting school supplies for Millie was fun, pricey but fun. She wanted everything to be pink and sparkly; her backpack, her lunch box, her pencil pouch, you name it. We decided on a Barbie lunch box (that was big enough for both breakfast and lunch containers) a Skip-Hop preschool-sized backpack that looks like a koala, and a pencil pouch with a glittery butterfly. We filled her backpack with everything from her class list; glue sticks, safety scissors, colored pencils, crayons, skin-colored crayons, washable markers, and a paint set.

Dietary Needs: I was vegetarian when Mill was born and she was exclusively breastfed. After she’d eat, she’d projectile vomit, and her doctor told me to try limiting my dairy intake (cheese was three parts of my food pyramid). Chris also has a lactose intolerance so this change of diet benefited him as well. Four years later and veganism is our lifestyle. State law mandates that each child receive a milk (specially from a cow, 2% dairy) every day. To not have a carton of milk placed in front of my child, I had to have forms signed my Mill’s pediatrician stating she has a lactose intolerance and that she should be given water in place of milk. Oat and soy milk are allowed however, Millie doesn’t drink either.

Included in the weekly price, her school provides breakfast, lunch, and snacks. I highlight the monthly menu with the foods Millie can eat – apple sauce, tomato soup, carrot sticks, etc. I still pack her breakfast, lunch, and two snacks to ensure she has plenty of food to eat during the day. I also pack a small, daily joke card with her lunch because Mill is super into telling jokes lately. Her teacher reads it to her and she’d recite it back to me when she came home. Here’s some of her favorite lunches:

– left over pizza, grapes, cucumbers

– Pasta salad, peaches, dairy-free laughing cow cheese

– Sandwich (white bread, butter, and strawberry jelly) chips, apple slices

– Black bean and corn dip, tortilla chips, blueberries

The week before school started, I tried to best prepare Millie for pre-k. I made her lunch in the new containers so she could practice opening them. I created a schedule for her mornings and posted it on her closet door so that she would know the routine. I bought hanger labels with the days of the week on them so that we could pick out her outfits ahead of time. We read books about starting school. We took, “first day of school” pictures days before the actual first day of school so the first morning wouldn’t be so chaotic.

I was really anxious about Millie starting pre-k. Chris and I thought up worst case scenarios; what if she went into a bathroom stall and there was poop in the toilet? Would she know to pick a new stall? Would she try to flush it? Would she just hold herself? All the prepping in the world wouldn’t prepare her for every possible encounter she’d experience on her first day.

The night before Millie’s first day of school, I prayed with her as she laid in bed. Before I closed her door, I heard her say, “I can’t wait till I come home to celebrate your birthday mommy.” My heart melted. In the hustle and bustle of the new school year, I completely forgot about my birthday. She’s so incredibly thoughtful. I cried on the couch for the next 10 minutes about my baby (my early baby!) starting school. The next day, I turned 30 and Millie had her first day of pre-k.

Chris took Millie to school in the morning because I started back to work, my ninth year teaching. He said Millie told him that she was nervous which of course made me worry. When I picked her up from school at the end of the day, the nerves were gone. She told me she made a new boy-friend, Daxon, and her teacher said she had a great day. She even slept during nap time! When I told her that she’d be coming back the next day, she was excited.

I was so proud of Mill the day her teacher told me that she was so helpful to a new student. At four years old, her character is so kind. Everyday we received excellent reports on Millie’s work and behavior. They have a weekly special; art, gym, or music. She has learned about about the life cycle of a tree, how different color apples taste, the difference between warm and cool colors, Scripture, etc. Some days she’d come home with her hair styled different – she had the longest hair in her class so of course the other little girls play with it and the teachers!

So far this year, they have had a fall festival where the pumpkin patch came to their school and gave out pumpkins and doughnuts, a trick-or-treat event with the old folks home next door, the firemen did a presentation, and a reunion with a family who’s been apart because of active duty. We are so excited for their upcoming Christmas program. Millie has been practicing hard on the lyrics and the dance moves of both songs they’re performing.

More as she continues the school year!

Millie Met Mo’ana

Millie Met Mo’ana

We are so fortunate to live close to the amazing, Columbus Zoo and Aquarium. Because I teach and have summers off, Millie and I have been able to go on daily adventures – the zoo being one of her favorites. She loves looking at all the children and is captivated by the fish at the aquarium. During the week, especially on days with spotty weather, the zoo isn’t overly crowded and we have the opportunity to talk with the staff that works directly with the animals.

The Columbus Zoo works closely with Western Lowland Gorilla conservations. I was encouraged upon learning about their success increasing the gorilla population. Stephanie, the gorilla expert, told us the names of all of the gorillas and their ages. She was knowledgeable about their relationships with one another and their individual personalities. She informed me that “Mac”, the silverback in the enclosure, is the grandson of the infamous, Colo. Colo was the first gorilla to be born in captivity and is practically a celebrity in Columbus, Ohio. The large and in charge, Mac, knows he’s handsome, will pound on the glass whenever he feels like it, is a surrogate dad, and is busy raising his two year old, rambunctious son, J.J. J.J. acts like any other toddler; he prolongs nap time, copies everything his daddy does, and plays about the enclosure. The gorillas habitat was observed and approved by Diane Fossey, one of the greatest mountain gorilla conservationists of all time. Stephanie says that these gorillas have it made at the Columbus Zoo, like the animals in the movie, Madagascar.

I learned that the female gorillas take birth control pills once a day, the same way a female-human would. The female gorillas are tested each month to make sure that they haven’t gotten pregnant by mistake. A “board” meets to determine which gorillas can breed according to their DNA compatibility. Because the gorillas at the zoo are promoting the conservation of their species, the board wants the bred outcome to be the best gorillas. Even with this board acting in the role of God, some gorillas do not come as planned.

Kinyani, a beautiful female gorilla at the zoo, was bred and born in captivity. She is deaf. She stays up high in the trees so that she can see the activities below and no one can sneak up on her (For his own enjoyment, Mac will sneak up behind her to smack her in the head.) Her deafness was not planned by the board however, Gods plan supersedes.

Mo’ana, is a seventeen year old, female gorilla at the zoo. She was born and bred in captivity and she has a mental disability. Her body didn’t grow normally so she looks different and she has arthritis. She sits right at the glass of the gorilla enclosure and tries to feed the children hay when they sit across the glass from her. Again, her disabilities were not planned, however her gentleness is a gift from God.

I have always loved gorillas and I felt especially close to them after learning that Colo, the beloved gorilla – may she Rest In Peace, her parents were from Cameroon. I was not familiar with this country until earlier this year when I looked it up; 3% of my DNA is from Cameroon, according to Ancestry. I also learned that Colo’s mother’s name was, Millie.

Twice, I have sat Millie by the glass to interact with Mo’ana. She seems timid as she looks at the gorilla and then turns her face into my chest. She doesn’t cry but she doesn’t smile at her either. I tell her all about the gorillas when we visit their enclosure. I hope that one day she will share the love that I have for these beautiful primates.