• Attendance

    October 2011
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  • The “Class”

    Avery, Naim, Aaron

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Halloween was more entertaining than school-y, but I just want to add my Avery observations.

It is the first time I have had Avery at the Children’s Museum since the time in the summer when it was sort of my last straw about the fact that something was WRONG. And Nik and I both agreed that it looked a hell of a lot like Autism of some sort. Besides the delay in language, and the fact that he just didn’t seem to understand anything we said, he just didn’t play like a normal kid. He sort of obsessively went back and forth between two similar activities, most involving wheels or steering wheels. He didn’t seem to care about me, the other kids, or much of the stuff going on around him. He was very closed off, almost impossible to communicate with and just operating on a really simplistic and perseverating level.

It has been about three months, and although he still isn’t in the developmental norm, the difference has been pretty outstanding. Today, he stuck by me a lot, but he interacted with everything and seemed a lot more like a normal toddler playing. He still doesn’t “cover the ice surface” so to speak and check everything out like a lot of kids do, but his circle has expanded and he is much more willing to try new things. He also seems to understand the context of things more, like grocery shopping or playing with a stuffed dog. There was still some obsessing with wheels, like he spent a ton of time turning these wheels that turned these lego castle displays around, but he also went over and tried the slide, built for a few seconds with giant lego blocks, and looked around at what else was out there. He still has quirks, like he went around and became obsessed with all the hinges in the doors. He stole a small screw that came out of a hinge in a small gate and would not let it go. But he was much easier to distract and get interested in something else. He went crazy with Naim in the theater and loved the xylophone, something that I could not get him interested in before. (Before, when I took him to the theater, he walked back and forth, back and forth across the stage nonstop.) This time, he played with the xylophone and ran around on stage with Naim.

He is also understanding a lot more. His talking is not making any great leaps, but his receptive communication is obviously improving. He kept trying to stand up in his high chair there, and I was across the table from him so couldn’t readily reach him. I told him “Avery, sit down.” And he did. Not just once but three separate times. He also seems to have gotten “bye bye” back and said it multiple times to kids who came to the door for trick or treating. We took him trick or treating for just a block or so before sending him home, and he didn’t get it at first, but he seemed to get the program by about the fourth or fifth house. This “getting the context” is not something he could do just a couple of months ago.

I really am starting to think that he was just sick for most of his life due to lactose intolerance and that made him grumpy, lethargic, and not really motivated to learn anything. I can’t say for 100% yet that he doesn’t have autism, but I’m glad I thought he did because I read a bunch of books about autism research, especially in regards to organic or medical causes and this is what made me try diet changes such as limiting gluten, lactose, etc. 3/4 of the planet is lactose intolerant, although mostly not white Europeans. However, it is not unbelievable to think that it could happen to one of my kids. And in Avery’s case, I have read that Finland has a particularly high incidence of congenital lactose intolerance. And Nik always reminds me that although Gotland is politically Swedish, Gotlandish is an ethnicity all of its own with roots more in Denmark, Finland and Estonia than Sweden. So, who knows? though I still haven’t quite figured out if this is pure lactose intolerance or more of a dairy allergy. I also am glad that Naim has been able to develop this friendship with Ruoda (who they went trick or treating with–she was a solar system!) because like most Asians, she is lactose intolerant and I have learned a ton about replacing dairy from talking to her mom and also how Ruoda acts when she does have dairy. It was like a lucky accident to have her around so much this summer and fall.

So, we shall see. It does seem like he is in a happy place developmentally right now and though still catching up and moving slowly, at least he is moving. It was like I had a huge, crabby 11-month old for a year and now I’m finally seeing signs that I have a toddler.

Okay, that’s it except pictures:

(Aaron was the skeleton he didn’t get to trick or treat in last year. Naim went as ME! Naim with his own clothes for a costume. An attempt was made for Avery to wear one of the old fire engine costumes but he had a shit fit and refused, so I guess he went as “Avery.” )

Still can't pass by a steering wheel.

Dwight showed up as we reached the last house for trick or treating. Kids were happy. He made a "bionic leg" out of his prosthesis.

Pumpkins! Avery painted his little one, but it didn't stick well.

Loved the xylophone.

He didn't get the vet, but he got that this was a dog (or animal that he wanted to pet and hug) and he took it to their little "outside" area and sat down and petted it.

Abstract, buildy stuff like this he would never have been interested in just two months ago.

Found the things with wheels. He did stay at this table and played with those toys the entire time he was in the baby garden.

"Avery, sit down!" and he did.

One of my attempts to take a picture of all three at once. Sigh.

People say having older siblings slows down development, which may be true a bit in regards to language, but Avery needs his brothers. They give him context, they model how to play with different things, they get him interested and excited about things. They have been involved in helping him break out of his inner world as much as I have.

Naim breaking down and deciding a costume would be ok for Halloween, for just a minute.

Sunday Catch Down?

Is Catch Down the opposite of catch up? Since tomorrow is Halloween and we will be at the PCM for a party and trick or treating at night, I don’t expect to get much done. Then field trip day on Wednesday is going to be a scope out trip and picnic to Stubb Stewart State Park (unless the weather is awful) to see if hiking and cabin camping is a doable for us. Wednesday will be a recon mission as well as some outdoor time for the kids. We may do the Thames and Kosmos Nature box while there. So today was some schoolwork that we will miss Monday.

  • Word Time was WEAR and DECORATE which goes well with Halloween. Also discussed the difference between WEAR and WHERE.
  • Math was Lesson 131, making clocks and looking at the hour hand. Discussing AM/PM and what time what happens in our day.
  • Together Reading, we read “Cows in the Kitchen” and “Ice Cream from Cows to Kids”, reviewed CVC words with short a and short i using letter cards. Read Zig Pig and the Tan Van. (Naim didn’t read this, he needs to do this next time.)
  • Naim reading: Finished up all of the HOP ABC/Sounds workbooks (FINALLY!). We did about 10 pp. because I think we were both ready for that to end. The Sylvan workbook (K Reading Readiness)  he will start is perfect for him. He is SOOO Close to knowing all of his letters and sounds, One more round on the spiral should do it. He improved slowly but steadily. I can’t imagine the mess he would be in if he were pushed through in PS. We have been doing letter names/sounds now for going on three years. And HE IS LEARNING TO READ, if we do a slow, shallow spiral up. I do think the Sylvan book will be the last letter name/sounds workbook we do. It is his fourth book (or set of books) on the topic .
  • Aaron did Lesson 3 and the review in his Sylvan Workbook and read the Box 2, Number 3 Bob book review words and book “Pip and Pog.”
  • Both did Handwriting Review page. I shall quit procrastinating opening up the new Handwriting books and start on that next time. They are starting capital letter review at the beginning anyway.
Avery, pointed to the mirror while I was holding him and said “mama” twice. First time for that. He also seems to have his “bye bye” back that has been gone for months. He painted his pumpkin with finger paints that did not stick, but he didn’t seem to care and had fun anyway, next time I will let him paint with tempera paints, finger paints suck.

Then, of course, big kids wanted to paint their pumpkins.

And because Naim finished his HOP letter/sounds workbook (which I hadn’t expected him to do today.) he wanted to make a celebratory cake (hmmm…right before the Halloween Candy comes…) so we made an orange cake with black blood (cake batter mixed with cocoa and swirled in.) Which then had to be topped with, of course, funfetti!

It's blood and guts cake, can't you tell?




ExUrban Transportation Options

I’ve tried to make a bigger effort to learn about alternative transport to get us out of town more. I will link this to the “school bus” section and add to it if I find more options. Here is a list of things I have found.

Transit Link: Columbia County Rider (CC Rider)

Phone:  503.366.0159

Goes to: Fixed route service 3 times a day (weekdays) to Stubb Stewart State Park and Vernonia. Also has some dial-a-ride options around the Vernonia, St. Helen’s and Scapoose areas.

Connects to: Fixed route service connects at Willow Creek Transit Center

Cost: Around $5 per person one way with some gimp discounts and child discounts.

Transit Link: Tillamook Transit

Phone:  503.815.8283

Goes to: Fixed route 1x day to Tillamook (with stops in North Plains and Banks) and back from Portland. Some Tillamook coastal transit to neighboring cities (including Cannon Beach.)

Connects to: Fixed route service connects at Union Station, Sunset Transit Center and NW 185th and Evergreen.

Cost: Around $15 one way, $20 round trip. Kids half off, 4 and under free.

Transit Link: Yamhill County Transit

Phone:  503.472.0457

Goes to: To McMinnville through Forest Grove, Gaston, and Yamhill. Other service to Newberg, Sheridan, etc. out of McMinnville. (Note Evergreen Aviation has a shuttle to the airport there, they have been somewhat open to shuttling from McMinnville Transit Center, with a few days notice.)

Connects to: Fixed route service connects at Hillsboro Transit Center, another route connects at Tigard Transit Center.

Cost: Single day passes are $2.50

Transit Link: South Metro Area Transit (SMART)

Phone:  503-682-7790

Goes to: Around Wilsonville, including connections to Salem Chariots and Canby.

Connects to: Wilsonville Station (WES) and Tualatin and Barbur Transit Centers.

Cost: Disabled discount .60 to $1.50

Transit Link: GreaseBus

Phone:  N/A

Goes to: Mt. Hood Meadows, six days a week. Leaves at 8:00am returns at 4:00pm (seasonal).

Connects to: Their office address on 1315 NE Sandy

Cost: $15

Transit Link: Sea To Summit

Phone:  503.286.9333

Goes to: Mt. Hood Meadows, Ski Bowl, Timberline Lodge

Connects to: Downtown Hotels

Cost: Depends on destination and pick-up, also have ski-lift packages. $40-ish to Timberline Lodge

Transit Link: Sunset Empire Transit District

Phone:  503.861.7433

Goes to: Once an hour shuttle service to Cannon Beach, Warrenton, Seaside, Astoria

Connects to: Downtown locations in seaside towns. Also flag service

Cost: $1-4.00 depending on distance

Transit Link: EcoTours of Oregon

Phone:  503.245.1428

Goes to: Day tours to Mt. St. Helen’s, Columbia River Gorge, Mt. Hood, Coast Towns, others

Connects to: Door to Door service.

Cost: $50-100 depending on destination, usually lunch included, some park fees not included.

Friday, Theater, Sleepover, Walk with Avery

Naim went to NWCT, teachers say he is doing ok with his lines but needs practice. Aaron shopped again with Avery at the Dollar Tree. Then they went to D’s for a sleepover. I heard there was lots of legos and lots of TV.

Nik and I took Avery for a walk behind the houses. He really likes to walk and did investigate some trees and mosses and stuff. Went briefly to the Tot Lot. He likes the steering wheels but was not NEAR so obsessed with them. We could redirect him to other things. We were going to walk back on the street side, but he wanted to go on the paths behind the houses again. He pointed in that direction. He is getting some basic pointing or gesturing down. He still does not look to where you point.

Oh, and having two parents with just one baby is SO EASY it is unbelievable. So chill and calm. I can see that that is the way to ease into parenting. Not the kamikaze way I did it.

Trail Mix Break. Gotta have Trail Mix on the Trail

We had to stop at almost every bench.

Drippy droopy trees rain when you shake them.


VH, Night School, Packing

I went to VH with Avery today. He is getting to like the routine there (except art) and so I think Nik and I are going to have to suck it up and make ourselves keep going. (We were thinking that if he is not getting anything out of it, we would quit, because we both sorta hate having to take him and sing “Wheels on the Bus.” ) He is starting to participate a bit in circle time. He put his finger on his nose when everyone else was doing sort of a sign for cat (whiskers on cheek.) He will put his hand up and stretch during “the old grey cat is waking…” stuff like that. It is not what I would call completely participating, but their are signs of life finally. The weird thing about that is that when he brought him to Little Villagers (as guests) back when he was maybe six months old, he LOVED circle time and was very animated. Then it was like he lost it all and now is just starting to show signs of interest again. I notice the little 20 month-old Jacob a lot for perspective. He is the only one in the class younger than Avery, and doesn’t talk a lot, but his comprehension of what is going on around him seems so much greater than Avery’s. He gets the whole “Squirrel” game and what he is supposed to do. He is not near as spaced-out as Avery seems to be. I’m happy to see Avery taking some kind of notice of circle time stuff, but his actions remind me of a 10 or 11 month old. But it is fine as long as we can build on it. I hope we don’t lose this in a week or two like what often happens with him.

Aaron and Naim had Discoverers which was all good and had show and tell day. Aaron brought Foxy and Naim told about sleeping over at Dad’s house tomorrow. Avery and I peeked in when we were walking the halls during art, they were engaged in stuff at centers. They really love Teacher Bobbi.

Avery and I spent a few minutes in Naim’s drama class before we had to go do community duty. He used Avery as a prop in a game where he was a nanny. Avery was less than cooperative, so he sat on my lap and I was instructed to be invisible. Naim is really comfortable in that class and the teacher is really high energy.

I met a woman who is I guess the helper in Measure for Treasure. She was all impressed with Aaron’s art and building abilities. I said, yeah, that’s all he does. This is what the blog said they did today:

This week we will explore the idea of measuring distance.   We will take a small tour around Village Home and find different ways to measure distance with both standard and non-standard units of measurements.  We will also be able to think about how we used the measurement of quantity last week, and apply quantity to measuring distance and answer questions of “How far”, as well as considering a new way to look at the question, “How Many?”
At home, we had “night school” for a bit after dinner to get the stuff done we won’t have time to do tomorrow because of their sleepover. I will avoid night school in the future if I can help it. It dragged and I could tell they were tired. Anyway, we got this stuff done:
Math: Lesson 129 (more or less time/ longer or shorter time–easy peasy)
Naim: Letter Qq in HOP Letter/Sounds. Lesson 10 in HOP Level 1, which was -it words. Read book “The Kit.”
Aaron: -am words in Sylvan. Lesson 14 in HOP Level 2, which was -eg words.
Read “The Carrot Seed” and “Corduroy.”

Wednesday Homeschool

While it’s fresh in my mind.


  • Read (attempt) “This is Not my Polar Bear” with Naim
  • Did apple poem on flannel board (taking apples off a tree and putting them in a basket, set to poem.) He did get the fact that you can stick shapes on and off the flannel board. Satisfied for first attempt.
  • He is working hard on the Lighthouse toy. Its his current thing.
  • Colored with crayons.
  • Went outside and helped add grass clippings to compost pile. Played in playhouse a bit.
A and N:
  • Played outside with bikes this am.
  • Word Time (YOUNG SENIOR)
  • Handwriting alphabet review page (wrote out alphabet), Both have trouble with B for some reason. Aaron’s is otherwise fine except for a backwards Z. Naim’s continues to be very shaky and uncontrolled.
  •  Read Mat Man on the Go, Made Mat Man figures on white board. This was my attempt to get them to do better on the “draw a picture of yourself” test, which they blew off when they had to do it at the end of the last handwriting book. They did much better today.
  • Math, Lesson 127 and 128 in Calvert. Months of year, days of week, seasons, today, tomorrow, yesterday. (Prep for clock lessons).
  • Together reading. Read “The Adventures of the Half-Chicken” and answered questions. Introduced Alphafriend Oo (Ozzie Octopus) and song with it. Reviewed CVC words with “i”. Read “TAN VAN” from Phonics Library (which dispite the name, was mostly short i words.)
  • Aaron did -ag word lessons in Sylvan (2 pp.) and read Bob Book #2 in second box, “Up, Pup.”
  • Naim (and Aaron) both watched Lesson 28 in ZigZat. Naim answered questions and did Lesson 28 workbook pages. Also did Ee pages in HOP Letters and Sounds workbook.
All went well. Talked a lot about how every word has vowels and what words would sound like with no vowels. Naim needs work on short i. He has short a CVC words fairly well. Tends to put in the short a for i in many words.

Aaron's Alphabet Practice Page

Naim's Alphabet Practice Page

Working on making detailed "mat people."

Aaron's Mat Person

Naim didn't wait for me to take a picture of his first one, this is his second. He tends to forget a body, but he didn't on the first.

Aaron's Tiger, I was requested to put this on the blog.

Tuesday VH, Pumpkins and Apples


Avery slept a good part of the morning. He went with me to D’s for a bit. D had a little app on his iPod that had a picture of me and some other shapes and stuff. Whenever Avery would tap on it, something would appear and for the picture of me he had it say “mama.” Avery liked to make that one appear and did seem to say mama perhaps once. He also watched Play with Me Sesame over there, then Nik got him and took him home to nap while I worked the rest of the afternoon.

Aaron and Naim went to VH where they are filming a documentary called “Class Dismissed.” Nik saw the camera crews and they said they were filmed several times, so we shall see if anything comes of it or if the kids end up in a movie.

I did not hear a lot about their classes today. Doesn’t look like the class blogs have been updated yet. Maybe all of the excitement from the camera crew?

Kids carved pumpkins with Grampa Fred. That seemed to go ok (I was not here.) Aaron decided he didn’t like his, not sure why. It doesn’t light up as well as Naim’s because I think the holes aren’t big enough. Avery did not get to paint his yet.

Kid’s went to dinner at Noodles with Fred. After, we FINALLY did the apple pie activity from Avery’s Buttercup curriculum. We have never had enough apples at one time before. Basically, it was just making applesauce and putting them in little pie pans and putting whipped cream on top. Avery did get into smashing the apples and did enjoy being a part of it and eating it. We still have apple sauce for tomorrow.

Don't know what this is...from Lego class

Making pie with Avery's applesauce

Good pie.

More apple mashing

Naim's Pumpkin

Fred always gets this job.