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  • The “Class”

    Avery, Naim, Aaron

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March 9, 2013

So the plan was to take Naim up on his idea that the whole family going out together is too much chaos sometimes and we should split up. Nik, Naim and Avery were going to go to the Washington County Historical Museum for family day and a free puppet show from Tears of Joy theater. Aaron and I were going to go to a LEGO art exhibit at the convention center.

But Aaron woke up puking…perhaps caught what Avery had a few days ago. Nik also felt crappy, so I took Naim to the Washington County Museum and the rest of the crew stayed home.

Washington County Museum is a funky place that I don’t quite get so I just go with it. It is free on family day once a month, and they usually have something special (often that doesn’t related to anything) like the puppet show. It also has a Hubble telescope exhibit which also has nothing to do with anything, but just go with it, you know? There are a few pioneer day artifacts on display, there were arts and crafts on family day, and there was a movie about how Mexicans and Latinos were imported to Washington County during WWII to do farm work since there was not enough of a workforce. It is kind of just a bunch of stuff thrown together, but the staff is really nice, and they seem to be trying to do a lot of things to attract families so OK. It is located right above Outdoors In so really easy to get to. Anyway, it was nice to go someplace just with Naim, though he said he felt weird and worried about Aaron the whole time. We went on a museum scavenger hunt and he got to pick out a prize (a poster) and he asked for an extra prize for his sick brother, which they let him have. We went to Taco Del Mar after and then to pick up pedialyte for Aaron at the store. As of bedtime, Aaron is still puking, so it has been a hard day for him. I was hoping he  might feel better by tomorrow and then I could still take him to the lego thing, but as of now it is not looking good.

He is pretty dehydrated, they go on Monday for their “well child” check (heh.) so I hope he can make it by then.

October 20, 2012

Naim had soccer and won the game, so their team has a pretty good record.

After soccer they went to BFG, Big Friendly Giant at NWCT. Before they got there (they=Nik, Naim, Aaron) they stopped at the Burnside McDonald’s where someone apparently screamed and found a newborn baby in the toilet. Meanwhile, Nik and kids were in the mens room changing out of Naim’s soccer gear while someone in the next stall was shooting up. Don’t know the whole story, but some guy who was a army medic got the baby out of the toilet and wrapped it up in paper towels. The EMTs were called and all were taken to the hospital. It sounds like the mother was there, she did not abandon her baby in the toilet, just had it in the toilet and then sort of didn’t know what to do. Sad. As I told Nik, you do not have your baby in the McDonald’s bathroom unless you’ve got big problems. Hopefully they all will get the help they need. But sigh. The kids were really excited about it, but it was a hard question to answer why someone would have their baby there. We talked about homelessness a bit, which we’ve talked about before. I lit a candle for her and baby at Church today.


They all really liked BFG. My Boyfriend John Ellingson was BFG and Nik said he had a really good Scottish accent. After they went to the dollar store and got a few decorations for Holloween and went to D’s house for the afternoon.

Meanwhile, at home, Avery and I did a little bit of Buttercups stuff. He did a puzzle that he pasted the pieces together, we made a paper bag scarecrow. He really liked crumbling up the paper and stuffing it in the bag. And the gluestick.

October 18, 2012

Avery went to Goddard. Traci says he is sick of his lunch and doesn’t eat it. It cracked me up because I never know what Nik packs, but when she started telling me what he had today I could have recited it. So, it isn’t only me who sees Nik’s lack of creativity around meals. I think it must come from not being able to just go and scan around the kitchen to see what’s there, you fall back on the same things. I have done dinner menus for him, so now I think I need to make a list of lunch ideas, too. Wait–didn’t I do that already once or twice? Where do those things go?

Big Kids:

  • Naim did Lesson 26 of DER
  • We did 8.11 and a practice/review in Calvert Math
  • They did each 2 pp. of Sylvan. Aaron started his new 2nd grade book. It is not too hard for him, it is just right. But he has a lot more writing than he is used to and he is being a whiner about it.
  • Naim did worksheets, review of words, and shared reading and song in HOP Lesson 2.
  • Aaron did a worksheet and reread “Over My Head” for HOP Lesson 8. (And told me all about DNA and RNA and drew double helixes on his paper.)
  • Did HWT #1-5
  • Watched BrainPop Jr. about 100 and skip counting
  • Watched BrainPop about two party system and elections
  • Did Lesson 2 in Maps, Globes and Graphs (which is going to become MMG)
  • Did Little Passports to India
  • Naim practiced his lines and songs for his play (Aaron helped.)
  • Naim had soccer.

Soccer pics came at soccer practice today:

August 6, 2012

Avery’s default state. Holding “Ribbity” and Air bottling.

Heh. Avery had fun playing with Chicken Car. I have no idea what Chicken Car is. But here is his report.

Big Kids:

  • We watched a video hosted by Wil Wheaton via NASA about the Mars Rover Curiosity Landing.
  • And of course, BrainPop was about Mars as well.
  • Naim watched Lesson 9 of DER. We answered the questions and reviewed the workbook.
  • Aaron read “Knight Fight” and did the worksheet on silent letters. We are now on the last book of this series. I like Usborne in general, but I thought this series ramped up too fast. Naim could do it in the beginning and then it just plain got too hard. When I look at the next series, it seems to start lower than this one. I think I may keep Aaron with Usborne, because he is ok with the challenge and keep Naim with Calvert’s Discoveries in Reading Series. Or I could do Aaron with DR even though he never did the first DER like Naim. Hmmm. Think I will look at the next step in Usborne to decide (and then I would have to track that down.)
  • We did our own tally sheet and bar graph with colored blocks. Then did Calvert’s 7.3 Lesson. One of the things it asked us to do was to pole at least 10 people about their favorite season, and then graph that. Since we didn’t have ten people, we poled stuffed animals, which included a variety of voices and actions and reasonings to their vote. It was funny.
  • Both did 2 pp. in Sylvan
  • Naim did Lesson 16 in HOP, DVD and book, which included reading “The Rats.” It is about plural -s- at the end of words.
  • Aaron did DVD and book for Lesson 2 in HOP, words that end in -th and -sh.
  • Sentence School (Ava points. Ava counts.) I did not have time to have them write copywork in their journals today, but the cool thing about this was that when we went over the word ‘count’, it asked about skip counting, and Aaron skip counted perfectly by 2s, 5s, and 10s. I didn’t know he could do that. I give Amy and math playground the credit for that.
  • HWT was -f-. Naim’s handwriting drives me mad. It is just so bad. I’m not sure what to do but just keep at it. I may post a note on a homeschooling board and see if anyone has any ideas.
  • Since we now had sugar, we redid our yeast experiments. We just have breadmaking left in that unit. Maybe Wed.
  • Kids made pictures with oil pastels.

Naim with our yeast experiment. The other yeast solution we made was in an open dish, and foamed all over the place. So this one we decided to catch the foam in a balloon.

June 30, 2012

Today was the Oregon Homeschool Education Network convention. I had never gone before because it was always so expensive. But this year they did it differently and gave exhibitors free space for putting on a workshop (mostly for kids) and the cost for all five of us was only about $70, which included 5 workshops each, lunch for all, and childcare for Avery. Can’t beat that. But we actually overslept and then had trouble finding the right building, so we missed the first workshop, which was just a meet and greet anyway. It was funny when we walked in because right there in the lobby of Valley Catholic High School was Trackers Earth. I’ll give a run-down of the sessions we each attended (Avery was in childcare, provided by Bobbi’s daughter (from VH) and some of her friends.

Session 2:

Nik went to a workshop on how to relate to your teenager, thinking of Karolyn. He said it was a mom who was very impressed with herself and self-righteous. He said they talked some about the new developments about the teenaged brain in neuroscience, frontal lobe not fully developed and what not. But he also thought it got a little stupidly involved when the only other man in the room went off on how he helped his teenage daughter buy a vibrator and he got mad praise from the other women about how great he was for doing that. Nik’s reaction was that he wants Karolyn to be able to come to him and her mom for anything she needs in regards to questions, birth control, STDs etc., but your daughter deserves a private life and that is where vibrators fall. I tend to agree.

I went to a thing given by the kids VH math teacher, who is a lawyer about Personal Development Plans, a stipulation in the homeschooling laws as an alternative to IEPs. It was good info to know, but basically most of it I already knew. I was wondering if there was a funding component to a PDP, there is not. You have to go the IEP route for that. PDP’s purposes seem to be a legal loophole to get kids with disabilities out of mandatory testing.

Aaron and Naim went to a workshop put on by OMSI where they learned about whales. Apparently there was a life sized blow-up whale that they could crawl into. It had a blow hole and everything! And Aaron came out of it talking in Orca language.

We had a lunch break and we went around looking at vendor booths. Naim and I walked out into a courtyard where we met these guys from a place called Academia Duelletoria. OK, this is knife, sword, machete, etc. fighting school. More talk about all this “noble swordsman shit” and pirates etc. In Sweden, with a long history of real pirating and marine warfare in the Baltic, pirates don’t have the jolly “Argh!” fun reputation they have here. Having a “pirate party” in Sweden would be akin to having a “serial rapist killer” party here for a bunch of six year olds. Nik just doesn’t get it.  What the holy fuckety fuck is it with people? I kind of would like to plop them back into the middle ages for a few hours and see them shit their pants when people were like, really getting killed in these manners and then see how “noble” they think they are. But Naim and I watched the kids with their (fake) machetes and shields and I didn’t say much about it. And finally he said, “This is stupid. I don’t get why that is supposed to be fun. You aren’t really going to kill anyone, and if you did it would be bad, so you are just hitting each other’s swords and what is the point?” Exactly. I think what bugs me most about all this shit is that these grown ups are playing. It is all war games. So just admit that and call it that. Don’t come off like you are doing/teaching some noble skills that will help anyone in life. You can call it a sport if you want to, you can say it is a skill. But in the grand scheme of things, you are playing war games which is of really no useful value to society. And between a sport like golf or football or whatever, you could even say it is more detrimental than those (which are pretty neutral, I suppose) because of how they glamorize violence and do not teach real conflict resolution skills. We went back in. Avery and Aaron played at some poor woman’s toy booth for a very long while.

Naim and I outside in the courtyard watching adult men being stupid with toy knives.

Avery and Aaron playing at a toy vendor’s booth.

Session 3:

Nik went to a thing by John Bennet about education consciousness. Which Nik said the only thing he got out of it was the word ‘choice.” Even though the guy lectured nonstop for an hour. (Both Nik and I were like, this is flashbacks to high school and college. Remember how many sheer clock hours we spent sitting in little desks and listening to people talk? It seems odd now.) Anyway, but what really pissed Nik off is that the guy flat refused to even discuss getting Nik the handouts in electronic form, either immediately (they both had electronic devices, he could have just emailed them) or after the presentation. Like just flat out said “no” with no apologies or explanation or effort made. What the hell…

I went to a media literacy workshop. We watched sexist commercials (aren’t they all) and deconstructed them and then talked about how to go through that process with our kids. It was OK.

Aaron went to a pastels art class and made a picture. Naim went to a hip hop dance class.

“A Bionicle Offering a Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup to a Pterydactil”
Aaron Ferris (Pastels, 2012)

Taking a run outside during a break. Unfortunatly, this high school was built during the “ugly cement” dark times of the 70s.

Session 4:

Nik went to a listening workshop, which he said was OK.

I went to a workshop about reading comprehension. All of these workshops were really set at a bar below my knowledge level, so I didn’t learn anything new. However, I think these things are good sometimes to refresh and remind you of what you could be doing. It made me think that I should be having Naim act out the stories he reads and rephrase in his own words as he goes more.

Aaron went to a self-defense class. (Why do al of these swords, bow and arrow, self defense martial arts men act like that? I know you know what I’m talking about.) Aaron was very happy to show us how he could get out of certain holds. And although I think that is useful information, he does what all those guys do, they don’t use it for true self defense, they FIND and SET UP scenarios where they can use it on the offensive. We def need some downtime from all of this fighting mentality.

Naim went to see Teacher Terry from VH for storytelling.

I was walking by above the cafeteria when I caught sight of Aaron’s self defense class. I think it was already at the end, here, though.

Session 5:

Both Nik and I went to listen to a panel of home schooled adults talk. They were very articulate and confident and self aware. Nik liked this best. I brought him because I knew I would have a hard time following along. My only complaint is that although all these people were very interesting and forthcoming, they all knew each other and they all sort of came from the same unschooled philosophy. Part of that is due to their generation, homeschooling has evolved a lot in the last 10 years. These people were still from the fringe hippy era in a lot of ways. Not their fault, I’m sure they got roped in by their parents (most who are still active in OHEN) to do this. But it would have been nice to see a little variety of parenting styles and homeschool styles.

Naim went to a drama class and Aaron went to a science class where they did something with dry-ice.

I did notice how many vendors that are doing online/virtual schools are popping up everywhere. Some are charter, some are private, and a brand new one in Hilsboro is opening that is a true public (Hillsboro Public Schools) option. They are taking after Vancouver and the DLs. I always said homeschoolers would lead the way to public school reform. And that it is all about truly individualizing education. Not sure the depth of the oversight and level of freedom the HPS one will have, but it is interesting to see the public schools moving in that direction. If it is more cafeteria style, I might consider it for the kids if they want to go that route for high school (it is only high school, now.) But if it is replicate school at home, we can do better than that. (Interesting that public schools are realizing that the worst thing about socialization is the public high school itself, and better to get kids out of there.)

Nik got roped into a conversation with guys at ITT Tech. (At the bigger homeschool conventions, there is A LOT of college recruitment going on. Colleges LIKE homeschoolers, believe it or not. But this was small potatoes, so there was just places like ITT and PCC, PSU etc.

In general, it was a good day, not terrific but good. I would go again. Because it is a fairly inexpensive way to spend time, the kids had a lot of fun and I like wandering around and talking to vendors, looking at used curriculum fairs, etc. The workshops I could take or leave, but that is kind of a crap shoot whether you pick good ones or not. It was interesting to watch the kids, who were totally in their element here. Compared to Trackers where they struggled a bit. These were their people, they walked into four classes of strangers with a  strange teacher and not a clue what to expect, and they did that confidently and enjoyed themselves. I even think Avery had fun. It is also fun to see all the worried little “homeschool virgins” or those who are considering homeschool and see how they get more and more relieved throughout the day as they discover that we are not all weirdos, our kids are normal, and actually do quite well. So for that alone, you need to occasionally put your time in and take a day for the cause.

The Goddard School

Avery’s School. I will try to get some photos INSIDE of the classroom soon.

Avery’s classroom is the second door from the corner on the left-hand side of the building. If you look at how close the doors are to each other, you can tell a bit about the size of the classrooms. The depth of the classrooms is the length of the first three windows you see on the right-hand wall. Avery’s playground is directly outside of his door. They keep the prison–I mean age populations separate through a series of fences.

So after years of saying I would never go there because they overcharge and all it is is a big sales pitch about “preparing for the future,” I walked my Avery over for his first day at Goddard. I spent the day with him there, and as I suspected, it is just a plain ol’ daycare. Nothing special here at all. It will serve its purpose for right now. My goals are the following:

  1. To get a break from Avery since he and I are with each other 24/7…in which
  2. He will be forced to communicate with other adults and children who will not know what he needs by intuition so much as I do, thus giving him more opportunities to be frustrated and motivated to communicate
  3. To give him a stimulating and yet routine oriented place to spend his time a few hours a week that is entirely on his level as he is so much shuffled around as a third wheel to the big kids stuff.
  4. To be a stopgap between us getting kicked out of Head Start and possibly qualifying for ECSPED when he turns three.
  5. To give big kids a set time of day without toddler interruptions to do their schoolwork, Bonus that it is in the morning and so we will get it done when brains are fresh and then have the afternoon for more fun stuff.

So, 1,4,and 5 are happening. The jury is still out on 2 and 3. He did well there and it went fine. I am writing this after he has been there twice, even though it will be dated the fourth. The second day, when I just dropped him off, he did not seem to have any problems and I was told he did well. Here is my observations about Goddard so far:

  • I like the teacher. She is down to earth and I can tell she likes the kids, although I can also tell she is just getting through the day with her 10 2 year olds. The assistant is nice as well.
  • I do not worry about his safety there. It is incredibly organized and they have a lot of safety measures and procedures. I have no worries that he will be dead or injured when I go to pick him up.
  • It is a program that is at his level, however it is not as creative or stimulating as Head Start.
  • The room is nice and clean, but it is incredibly small. It is about the size of my living/dining area plus a small bathroom. There is also a small outdoors area. It is fine for him for a few hours, but the idea that most of those kids spend up to 12 hours a day in that room (or ones just like it for up to 5 or 6 years is absolutely horrifying. The toys are obviously on the well-used and not often rotated side. (Although kids are assembly lined through each classroom every year or less, so I assume there are different toys and books in each.)
  • They hand you a list of things your kid did all day that was for the most part, obviously pre-written before the day. On the day I was there, they did absolutely NONE of the things that was written in the daily report. It wasn’t that what they DID do was so bad, but it was mostly free play and some circle time. Centers were a joke and NOTHING on the paper was even offered. It could have been a bad/unusual day, but who would even know? I’ll wait a month or six weeks and spend another day with him and see.
  • A kid who was new that week cried off and on the whole time. I could tell that there was not much that they could do, he was just getting used to the 12 hour schedule in that room. But mostly, he was just left to cry. I bet his parents have no idea that he has spent the week crying. He will eventually stop because no one responds, and probably because he will get more used to it, but how sad to be ignored like that for so long. I’m not even blaming the teachers, because still with a ratio of 5:1, you just can’t coddle a kid all day for a week.
  • Most of what the teachers do is manage the toddler cattle. The bathroom routine is ridiculous. They changed Avery’s diapers 4 TIMES!!! In that amount of time, I would have only changed him once. In general, I change him once every 4-6 hours, unless he poops, which I change right away. I don’t know if this is some crazy regulation, but the amount of my diapers they are using up is such a WASTE! I’m going to talk to them about that tomorrow and see if we can get it down. The transition times are at public school levels but worse because they are so young. There is a lot of pain and suffering around transitions and delay.
  • I don’t mean to sound like it is awful there. It isn’t and he will be fine and probably will like it there a lot. Unlike Naim, he likes a lot going on around him. Naim would have gone mad at that age, though. It is just a big difference between whether I would put him there for a few hours a week or full-time.

So, lets talk about full-time. I don’t want to say anything that would make a parent who puts their kid in that type of child care feel guilty, that is not my intent. But I would NEVER, EVER put my kid in a that kind of child care full-time. I would consider a relative or a in-home child care situation, because that mimics home. It allows for strong relationships to develop and it gives the child much more freedom of movement and activity. And usually the ratios are lower as well. That type of place is simply benevolent warehousing. It is toddler prison. I feel really awful for families that don’t have a choice. There is really something wrong with this whole thing where so many children are being forced to spend the majority of early childhood in that environment. I DO NOT say this to make working parents (especially moms) feel like they are bad or wrong and should stay and home and bake cookies. I only say it because there has just GOT to be a better way for parents to work and earn enough money to live and still spend time with their children without warehousing them. Especially with the costs of those places and the rules, etc. It just can’t be worth it. Here is that study that came out recently that talks about this. To me this is a no brainer. What doesn’t work in public schools is even worse on the very young child. No one says anything because no one wants to make parents feel guilty or be on that Christian Right train wreck that says that mothers should stay home. I am NOT saying that. I’m just saying that we should be able to talk about this in neutral terms and look for solutions that do not disproportionately punish mothers for working or for staying home.

I came into parenting rather naively, thinking that I would work and put my kids in childcare. That may have been a possibility had I not had twins. Thankfully, I did and that put childcare in the “impossible” category. When I think back and the sheer wealth and multitude of experiences that Aaron and Naim and I had together the first 5 years of their life and contrast it with a life they may have had had I gone back to work and put them in Goddard, I shudder. The difference in quality of life is drastic. If I would have had a “Jo” (my childhood in-home babysitter that became like a relative to me) I may have gone for that if I could have afforded it and that may have worked out well. (My mom sure was lucky!) But thankfully, I was forced to stay home with my kids. And the sheer boredom of it and the just “OK, if I’m going to be a SAHM, what is the best way to do this right?” type of thinking that woke me up to a whole world of possibilities for them that would never have happened had they been warehoused at Goddard. Really, for all of us as a family. We’ve just bonded so much and have done SO MUCH STUFF together, all over the city, and even North America.

I will keep an eye on Avery over the summer. I think the 12 hours a week he spends there will be an ok balance between being institutionalized and having some stimulating play-time away from mom and big brother activities. If it seems to be detrimental, I’ll pull him out. In December, I will check out ECSPED and compare programs. Until then, we’ll see how it goes and how he evolves about it. I still have him Tuesday and Thursday mornings when kids are at Village where we have just me and him time. And then all the other hours of the week as a family.

*In searching for a link to recent articles on daycare studies I read, I found this book, whose title made ma chuckle. Doing Time: What Really Happens in Daycare.

Showers, School, Miley Cyrus, Chaz Bono

Avery and I worked on communication around food this morning. I get some yeah’s. He got in the shower with me with his clothes on, I was going to give him a bath anyway, but I just took off his clothes and washed him right there. He thought it was great except for the hair washing part. In Sweden, at least where Nik grew up, all they had was showers, so he says he never remembers taking a bath. Avery is such a Swede-head.

Avery went to WIC today. Iron levels are up to normal. Weight was 31.5, Height was 36.5, same as ped. They are giving us vouchers for lactose-free milk now.

Big kids and I walked Avery down to the Max to meet Nik, and then went to Starbucks to use my last Scripps cards before they expired.

Also got a reply from BrainPop, based on an email Aaron sent totally without my knowledge:

Hi there!

If you have a question for Tim and Moby, go to
http://www.brainpop.com/qanda to ask them!


Rachael Siegel * Subscriber Relations Associate * BrainPOP
rachaels@brainpop.com * @brainpop * www.brainpop.com
t. 866.542.7246 x6044 * f. 866.867.6629
71 West 23-rd Street, 17th Floor * New York, NY 10010

—–Original Message—–
Sent: Monday, December 12, 2011 12:15 PM
To: info

Der tim ad mob.
Wut iz mile ciris.
Fum aaron

Translation: Dear Tim and Moby (characters from BrainPop) What is Miley Cyrus? From Aaron.

His first real email and it is about Miley Cyrus…heh.


  • Word Time (PUSH PULL) They are reading more and more of these themselves.
  • HWT: M
  • Calvert Math: 149-150 Ordinals
  • Aaron finished Lesson 7, I think it was, on animal words in Sylvan
  • Naim watched lesson 30 of zigzag again, tried to do workbook (did first page) but was too nuts to work. Switched to Sylvan because I thought that would be better, no go. He was having hyper spasms about it. I made him stop because it was pointless. He needs to finish tomorrow before Willy Wonka.

At some point today, they saw a story on the computer about Chaz Bono which included pics of him when he was a little girl and on the Sonny/Cher show and an interview where he answered questions that people wrote in about. They also showed him on Dancing with the Stars, which is what originally made them watch the story. So we had a big discussion about transgender issues. I told them I did not understand everything about transgender issues, but that people have all different ways of expressing gender and it is not a binary (and explained that). Talked a bit about how someone becomes transgendered, either by identity and dress, hormone therapy, surgery, etc. They got really fascinated with it. Then they decided they both want to become girls. I said fine, but they can’t get surgery or take hormones until they turn 18, but they can dress or wear their hair however they want. (As long as they are clean and they take care of themselves.) Then Naim wanted a ponytail. But 5 minutes later it was gone and that was that for their transgendered experiment today.