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    Avery, Naim, Aaron

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Naim’s Essay

So here is the backstory. Naim and I went on a Village Home field trip to the Oregon Jewish Museum last February for an Ann Frank exhibit. The docent there told everyone there (kids from about 7 to high school) about the Sala Kryszek Writing and Art Competition. She handed out a little flyer that had a writing prompt and told how to submit entries. Then, she came up to Naim and I afterward and totally went off about how insightful Naim was and how he is special and how he really should enter this contest. We even talked to her about how he is not really into art that much but maybe he could write something.

So we went home and he worked on this essay for probably about three to four weeks. He first spoke his ideas into his iPod Touch using Siri. Then I helped him trim the ideas down (like I got rid of all the “and, uh” type of things and fixed words that Siri got wrong and I put spaces in between each sentence/thought. Then he printed them out and cut them into strips and made an outline. He took a big piece of paper and glued the strips into the appropriate space on the outline. Then he retyped it in that order. I proofread and copyedited it and did give him some ideas on how to better transition from paragraph to paragraph. He made the corrections. Then he gave it to me to submit.

So, it wasn’t until I submitted it that I actually read the rules on the website. (Oops! I had read the flyer, but the flyer did not indicate age ranges.) I found out on the website that this contest is only for middle and high school kids. So, I don’t know. The docent GAVE Naim the flyer and encouraged him to enter. He does NOT look like a middle or high school kid. I think she might have even asked him his age. But, she is a volunteer, I believe so maybe she didn’t know. Anyway, we decided to enter anyway. But, alas! He was disqualified because of age. 

He was a bit disappointed, but he said what he really wanted was for people to read it, not to win so much. So I said, well, they probably did read it? But he thought they might have just looked at his age and thrown it out. So, he asked if I would publish it online and throw it around a bit so that his work wasn’t in vain. I really wish I could find another appropriate competition to enter it into, but I have not yet. It is a bit sad for me to read in a way because, seriously? He hears people say his father should die? But it is important to him and it is a good first essay, I thought. He worked hard on it. So, without further ado:

Oregon Jewish Museum and Center for Holocaust Education

Sala Kryszek Art and Writing Competition

March 13, 2015

 

 

We Should Respect All Life
by Naim Ferris

 

When I visited the Ann Frank Exhibit at the Oregon Jewish Museum, I learned that people with disabilities were killed in the Holocaust. According to The United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, over 70,000 people with disabilities were killed and others were used in medical experiments without their permission. I saw how much The Holocaust was and still is a source of fear and that Hitler gained power by using fear. People like to be powerful to be a step above everyone else and to have authority. Hitler used people’s differences to gain power. Treating people differently is a simple and easy way to make some people powerful and other people not powerful. Although people are learning that Jewish people and other minorities are not so different, disabled people are still treated as different. I think this is outrageous and I do not believe they should be treated as such.

I have three disabled parents. My mother is vision and hearing impaired. My father uses a wheelchair and my stepfather is blind. It is normal to have disabled parents. The only thing that is different is that they always have to prove themselves. They sometimes have difficulty getting jobs because people think that they are incapable, yet they won’t admit that is what they think.

My mother is a kind and loving parent, who can teach my brothers and me reading and math, handle a guide dog, talk to people and have her own business. My stepfather makes us breakfast and is a really good cook. We talk about good things and bad things. Sometimes we nerd-out on the couch. He teaches me and teaches other people about technology and we go a lot of places. He can cross streets, clean, bake and laugh. My father is quadriplegic and has been in and out of hospitals. He is special because he is able to handle lots of stress and deal with situations in a very bright light and stick to what are the main things about being a parent. People sometimes say my father doesn’t deserve to live because he is a so disabled. He has value because he exists. He is nice and smart and is good at math and fixing computers and answering questions. He helps me and teaches me things.

There are a lot of advantages to having disabled parents. We get to have our guide dogs go with us everywhere. My parents can problem-solve and can handle a lot of different kinds of put-downs. They don’t get upset about things and don’t let little things get them down. People think having disabled parents is a bad thing, but it is mostly a good thing.

Most people have things that they are good at or not good at, but maybe they would not be considered disabled, like not being able to cook or do math or stay in shape. A large percentage of the world’s population is disabled people if you think of it like that, so putting one group down because they can’t see or hear or walk doesn’t make much sense. I think mostly people treat them differently because they may look different or do things differently. They might have some challenges, but the biggest challenge is how they are treated by society. They have the same dreams, feelings and rights as everyone else.

I would like people to treat disabled people as individuals and not like they stand out as something to stare at. People should just treat them like they want to be treated themselves. People should ask questions if they don’t know what to do or how to act, but ask the person and not someone else. Trust them to tell you about themselves and not other people who may want to put them at a disadvantage.

Disabled people should be cared for like everyone else, because life is a life worth living. If Hitler had been successful, there would have been no disabled people. If there were no disabled people, I think that would be awful. A lot of problems would not be solved because they see the world in a different way and know how to find solutions to difficult situations.    In the Holocaust people with disabilities were dying. Currently, there is still a lot of unfair judgment and putting this group of people on a lower level. If people aren’t treated with respect, they are not valued. This is important because this has been happening long enough. The Holocaust could slowly happen again if people don’t pay attention. There are always people who stand out and can make a change.

 

April-May 2014

Springtime! I can’t believe this year is going so fast. I feel good about what we have done, even if I have blogged so little.

Updates in a minute, but first, the big issue we are thinking about now is whether to change schools from Village Home Education Resource Center to Village Free School. (We will just call them VH and VF for short.) The data is not all in yet, but I have mixed feelings about this decision. This sort of came about because, although I had half an eye on VF for years, it was always too far away. But recently it moved to the OMSI campus…which is still far away, but in the realm of possibilities. So one day, we were at OMSI, and I just walked in and asked for a tour. And although the facilities itself are nothing really special, it did shed some possible light on some ongoing problems we have had at VH, with possible solutions.

There are many things I like and admire about VH. I have a sentimental attachment to it. But as the kids get older, there seems to be some ways where it is not really meeting their needs. Here are some of the problems:

  1. VH has an inner core of adult/parents who are kind of the show runners. Although these folks are basically nice and well-intentioned people, their kids more easily fall into many more opportunities than mine. I am not in the inner core, partly because I don’t take the time to sit there and hang all the time like they do, and so that is on me. But I don’t think my kids should suffer for it. This really hit home when I tried to get Naim into Destination Imagination. I tried for MONTHS up to and including being a group facilitator, and I was just pushed out at every turn. I don’t think this was intentional, I think it was based on the fact that other people are thought of first when team building because it is who they know, and the limitations I have on time and transport. There have been many things like this, and my kids are really starting to notice and feel it.
  2. The kids change all the time. Again, although there are some core kids, my kids generally get excluded from that group, mostly due to my lack of relationship to the parents. Of the other kids, they come and go, if not totally from VH, then from the classes the kids take. They make friends one year and then the next year never see them again. I know that happens in life, but for them, they have not had an opportunity to make their own friends there, which was one of the main points of it all.
  3. It is very hard to schedule the classes that the kids actually want to take, so we end up fitting classes into our schedule. This means that they often are in at least some classes that they are not totally interested in and are not a good fit. Sometimes, I am paying for classes just to fill gaps since they are not allowed to be there alone if they aren’t in class.
  4. The classes/teachers vary significantly in quality. Some teachers there have been fantastic. Some other times, I pay for a class and it does not seem like a damned thing really happens in them. Naim is in a sort of P.E. class right now and it sounds like for the most part they just hang out at the park. Which is ok, but why am I paying for that?
  5. The classes are disjointed from each other. The teachers are not integrated much at all. For example, They have done some of the same science experiments over and over and over in different classes. They are sick of the same stuff. Or, the other day the kids were taken outside to see a beehive. That’s great. But Naim was taken out 5 times to see the same beehive because every teacher did so separately from the other teachers. He was bored of it by the second time.
  6. They don’t deal with Aaron. I freely admit that Aaron’s level of maturity can be disruptive and problematic. Some teachers just roll with it and work with him. I am willing to work with the teachers as well. But he gets thrown out of classes ALL the TIME. Classes that I know he would excel in and enjoy if given the chance. But, one Aaron upset and he is thrown out. I know he is a pain in the ass, but he is not hitting/hurting anyone. How is he ever going to learn if not worked with? When I was a teacher, I worked with the kids because that was my job and the responsibility I took on. I did not ditch them at the first sign of difficulty. If the kids can’t fit completely in to the particular teacher’s model, he is in danger of being thrown out. I get sick of this. He can be a pain, but he can also be a joy. He is not THAT bad.

Ok, so keeping in mind that up to this point we have just done one tour and one interview with VF, here is how I think some of these problems MAY be able to be solved. (They will be going to two “trial days” next week.)

  1. There are about 50 kids at VF, with probably less families. It is much harder to be on the outside when dealing with that small number. Furthermore, the kids attend school alone, not with parents. They kind of need to make their own way.
  2. Although there are part-timers and full-timers (mine would be part-timers) the same kids are there day after day, year after year for the most part. They are all mixed together and they can talk with whoever they want. The staff (of about 5) are also the same. They could really establish long-term relationships here.
  3. They will go all day on designated days (and have some flexibility week to week on days if something is happening that they want to attend on a different day.) They schedule themselves and their own activities. I do not have to do the awful VH class registration race.
  4.  It remains to be seen how they will end up spending their time there, but I doubt they will have to go out 5 times to see the bees or do the mentos and coke experiment over and over again.
  5. See four. This is the area that I still need to learn more about. What WILL they do all day and how constructive will it be for them. However, I do like the idea that they will be encouraged to take their own initiative and figure out for themselves what to make of their own day.
  6. I have been pretty frank with the director about Aaron. She gave me no indication that this would be a big issue. She talked about how she would deal with it, which dealt with talking with him and giving him time to process. She talked about having a sort of “recovery corner” in her office with a bean bag chair that kids can go to if they need time to get over a disappointment. What I liked best is that it seemed like she  was willing to give him the time and space to work it out. I like that they are committed to nonviolent communication and a democratic method of governance where the students and teachers votes count the same.

So, we need to learn more. I am excited about trial days next week. I am going to go with on one day, and let them go it alone on the second. We also have to work out financial aid and schedule, so it is not a for sure thing yet. But it is an option. Naim is especially excited about it, he is already sold. Aaron is a little torn, which is funny because he is not even going to VH right now. But I understand. I would miss VH, too.

Ok, now for updates:

Curriculum

  • Math: We are on Ch. 5, Multiplication and Division. Which the kids are having fun with.
  • Reading. I have been working with Aaron a lot on writing and spelling. He can read pretty much anything, so I don’t worry so much there, but writing and spelling need some work. He is working with Sylvan spelling words and we do a test on 12 at a time. He is doing those Teacher’s Mailbox reading/essay cards. I usually only get a sentence or two out of him, but it is a start. He continues to work on grammar and sylvan reading.
  • Naim is in the third lesson (or lesson 18) of Ch. 2 in Reading Horizons. We still do about a week or more per lesson and don’t move on till he has at least 90% of it down. And then we circle back like good little constructivists and review all the time. It is tedious but he is learning to read! I am very happy with his improvement. It is incremental but constant. He also works with Sylvan and Grammar but not so much spelling and writing yet.
  • Aaron is about at the back 5th of his current HWT book. I have another cursive book for him, and then there are also additional cursive and print supplements he could do. But I may move him on to keyboarding after he finishes this book (while also having him work through the last book I have in the series.) I may also supplement keyboarding with the two available practice books just to keep him remembering how to do print/cursive. But I only see maybe a year left of handwriting for him.
  • Naim has just the last 2-3 pages of the current practice handwriting book he has been working on. I am thinking of circling him back through the ZB K book (that I have an extra copy of), next. His handwriting is getting much more legible. He needs to work on his backwards numbers, though!
  • We have done, lets see, Chapters 1-3 now in chemistry. We read the chapter, have done a few experiments and they have to record in their lab books, spend a day on reviewing and making lap books, then they take the test. I really see how test taking is a skill. They need work on it.
  • They made masks in Atelier Art, and I think have done one or two lessons in reading.
  • We continue to work through the “A Life Like Mine” book

Classes

  • Naim is my only VH student this term. He is in Explorers, Schoolhouse mash-up, Ancient Egypt and Fun Sports. They made mummies in ancient egypt, but I have not heard too terribly much about the others.
  • Naim and Aaron switched for Art and Drama at PCAS and NWCT respectively. That has gone really well. Naim has made robots and some kind of hamster maze and I am not sure what all in Art. Aaron was shy at first but really seems to enjoy intro to acting. I will see his demo next week and THAT should be interesting.
  • Naim and Avery are taking swimming. Naim is in his second session of the beginning class for 6-12 year olds called Electric Eel. Avery is in his first session of the beginning 3-5 year old class called Catfish 1. Both are progressing.
  • Avery continues to do well in Goddard preschool. He had his parent teacher conference today. His “report card” is markedly improved from fall. He is talking more and sharing in circle time and playing well with kids.

Fieldtrips

  • Washington County Museum Family Day (technology through the ages). This was fun and we all went along. It was ancient hunting and shelter tech all the way up to Intel stuff and police bomb sniffing robots. They also had a art exhibit on display that Avery liked.
  • We took Naim and his bike on the max up to a bike trail and he rode around while Aaron and I trailed behind.
  • Children’s Museum. There was a Portland Bike Exhibit and the new outdoor part opened up.
  • Sky High Sports. First time we took Avery to the trampoline part. He was cautious at first but then got on really well.
  • Portland Spirit for Easter again. They got to “drive the boat” and it is kind of becoming a yearly tradition. I liked this cruise way better than the Christmas one. (Better food, less kid crap to run around to, more relaxed.)
  • Rood Bridge Park. This takes a bit to get to, but we did it and had fun. We didn’t get to stay that long, but wanted to come back and do a day trip with picnic, etc.
  • Lowes. I count this because we spent a LOT of time there and the kids just soaked it up and looked at everything. This was in regards to our backyard project. The kids have helped with small parts of that.
  • Aaron and I went to the Lan Su Chinese Garden. It was very pretty. We took the tour and learned a lot about Ming Dynasty scholars.
  • The usual scattering of parks and stuff.

I think that is about it. Pretty well considering we have dealt with some illness and D’s hospitalizations and of course the business business. This summer we have some camps lined up, although not as many as previous years. Aaron and Avery are going to zoo camp (Avery’s first camp!). Naim will go to NWCT improv class. (Aaron and Avery will probably go to drop in art at PCAS during this time.) A and N have a pioneer camp through washington county museum to tie in to our Little House reading. And we are still trying to figure out the details of a family camping trip.

Pictures

February-March, 2014

Dude, if I get this in today, it counts for March!

We are doing pretty well. My main challenge is just that I am ridiculously overworked with too many projects and I cannot let any of them go. We are digging ourselves slowly but surely out of the last few months challenges.

But! Here we go!

IMG_0913

We were organizing school stuff. This is pretty much this years’ curriculum.

Curriculum highlights:

  • Math…They finished the 1B book in Math in Focus. We are in Chapter 3 of the 2A book which is subtraction of 3 digit numbers with regrouping. We are chugging along.
  • Reading…Naim is on the last lesson of Ch.1 in Reading Horizons. We need to wrap up the test stuff before we go on to the next book. He is doing fairly well with his “Most Common Words.” He can read a lot of stuff and I notice him reading other stuff out in the world on the fly. We are sloooowly coming along.
  • Reading for Aaron…he finished all of Master Reader and thus the whole 5 year Hooked on Phonics Curriculum. I tried to have him read on his own, but he doesn’t really do it well. So now I bought him a curriculum from the Teacher’s Mailbox which is just 36 cards with some non-fiction reading, questions, and then a writing assignment. And then somedays he will read a National Geographic or something.
  • We have started to read “Little House in the Big Woods.” After finishing Mr. Popper’s Penguins and Ramona, Age 8. There are two more Ramona books but I think they needed a break. So far, the LH book is doing OK for them.
  • They are both moving along in Sylvan and Sylvan Spelling.
  • Aaron is midway through the first Cursive HWT book. He is doing ok with it.
  • Naim and I have just bought some practice handwriting books from Learning Palace and are just working through them. I do think his handwriting has improved in legibility, although it still has a way to go.
  • We have done two Atelier Art projects. One was on Van Gogh, the other was a chalk and glue mixed media tactile thing.
  • We are on Lesson 13 in Music.
  • We have started Real Science for Kids Chemistry (the primary book.) There are ten lessons. We read a chapter from the book, do an experiment and write up a lab report, do a sort of lap book study guide and then take a test. We have just finished the first lesson on the basics of atoms.
  • We have started reading the UNICEF book  “A Life Like Mine.” It is based on the UNICEF charter of rights for children. It talks about the right, then shows how different children around the world live in regards to that right. So far we have read the first unit on Survival, which had chapters on water, food, shelter and health.
  • We have done a bit of Angel Bear Yoga.
  • Oh, we did a Little Passport or two. I think I only have one left. They want to do the states one, but I don’t think I can afford it right now.
  • This isn’t really curriculum per se, but we continue to work on what I will call ADLs (holdover from special ed) Activities of Daily Living, AKA chores! We are working on having upstairs and downstairs partners to get work done. It goes incrementally slow and tedious. But that is pretty much how housework goes.
Aaron finished HOP Master Reader! The poster behind him shows his progress.

Aaron finished HOP Master Reader! The poster behind him shows his progress.

Classes:

  • Aaron did a good job in Art at PCAS. I heard no major grumbles from the teacher. Naim actually tried a trial day and liked it, so we are thinking of switching them next term.
  • Naim was the Emperial General in the Emporer’s New Clothes at NWCT. He did ok in the play. But I am kind of thinking that he needs to take learning lines more seriously if he wants to continue in theater. I really wish I could find him a good improv class, because I think he would enjoy it.
  • At Village, Aaron had Explorers, American History, Pirates, and Legos. Explorers was fine. AM we had trouble getting him to read the assignments. Pirates seemed ok except I am suspicious over what happened when they had a treasure hunt and Aaron “won” a giHUGic lego pirate ship. This mystery has never quite been resolved. Legos was OK but he had some incidences getting picked up because he often lost something he brought and put everyone through hell until he found it. Because of this and some other meltdown problems, I am pulling him out of VH for a term.
  • Naim had Explorers, Schoolhouse mash-up, World History, and Fun Sports. He did well in all of them.
  • They took 2 days of Spring Break Zoo Camp while I dealt with a medical issue. One day was Zoo Clues and the other was Animals of the Northwest. There was another meltdown on one day concerning aftercare and pickup with Aaron. So….
  • Our Homeschool PE class got canceled, so now we are starting swimming (for Naim and Avery only for now.)
  • Avery has continued to attend Goddard two days a week and is doing well.

Field Trips:

  • Let’s See…Naim and I went to OMSI and saw the Tony Hawk exhibit, the usual OMSI stuff and toured the submarine.
  • We went to VH’s Bloom fund raiser and talent show.
  • We saw Goodnight Moon at NWCT (with Avery! His first play and he did very well.)
  • Kids and I went to see the Lego Movie.
  • Naim went to a youth symphony with his friend R. They also made several trips in the snow to sled.
  • We’ve done some of the usual 53rd Street Park and Outdoors In, also Bagley Park. We also went and checked out the new library.
  • Avery went to a birthday party for one of his Goddard classmates at Oregon Gymnastics Academy. He did really well after the first few minutes. It really helped that his former teacher, Tracie was there because her son is also in his class.

Other stuff:

  • As I mentioned, A has been having meltdown problems again, after I thought it was getting better. The final straw was taking him to get his haircut. He just had a screaming fit. When we talked later about it and about how he had other options (one being sitting and enduring a few minutes of discomfort respectfully) he said that he did not know that was an option. (!?!?!) So I have been reading up on self-regulation and executive functioning skills and trying to come up with some strategies. But for now, (and because there are consequences for his actions) he has been pulled out of every class except drama (which he is at right now!) My thought process is that maybe he might learn some self regulation in drama (it is just intro to acting, all games and no play). And he needs something to work with so he can earn back the privilege of more classes.
  • Naim got braces! Finally! It is the first step and he has them on the bottom only until May when they will finish the top ones. He has done really well and is very compliant. This is another reason we thought he might like to chill out in art and not have to worry about a play. Talking hurts right now, he says.
  • We had some fun snow days in February. (this is really out of order, no?)
  • Aaaand…Naim learned to ride his bike in like, one afternoon.

We are getting there, we are making it…slowly!

Pictures:

Dec-Jan, 2014

Third grade is halfway over?!? I know that I have to give myself a break, here. Kids are learning and happy and healthy. But this four jobs thing is just really difficult. It is the hours, yes, but it is more that I am doing 4 completely different projects with no overlap, plus just the usual house/laundry/trying to stay healthy. It is just very hard to keep track of everything and keep on top of it. Things go by the wayside. I get tired. Hmm hmm hmm…this blog is more about me, isn’t it. Since my main blog went on hiatus, I have been keeping up a bit on a WW blog. I try to keep that to my own health and keep it pretty brief, but it is a closed system and as usual I am prone to ramble some. For this, I want to stick to my lovely, beautiful and smart and funny children.

Like every homeschool mom, putting them back in school during this hard time has crossed my mind. First of all, there is no free school for Avery, yet. Although we might now qualify for Head Start again or child care subsidy. He is still in Goddard for now. Aaron is probably the best candidate for school, and he would eventually do OK there, but it would be a rude adjustment for him because he cherishes his freedom so much. I do not worry about academics with him, but I do worry about the social influence. He has a wide-eyed and enthusiastic innocence about him that I am loathe to ruin with the cynicism of the machine of public school. He is also very suggestible to peer pressure and media influences. He does so much better with the calm, peacefulness of the homeschool kids. I do realize I cannot shelter him forever, but I would like to shore up his maturity and his critical thinking skills and his faith in himself before he has to face all the elements of the world.

Putting Naim in school would be an unmitigated disaster, for all the reasons I have outlined several times. We are still on Chapter 1 of Reading Horizons, but we have gone over and over and over it and have not moved on until he is at about the 90% automaticity range for each lesson. For example, we have been working on letter names and sounds since he was 3 years-old if not earlier. Just before Christmas, he finally for the first time was able to name and give the sound for every letter in a stack of letter cards. Dudes! It took only 6 years. He still mixes up b and d, but we can finally move on more confidently to other things. Next is being able to identify words, not just isolated letters, and even that is getting better. His list of “sight words” is growing. And once he knows something, he knows it. Meanwhile, I am able to help him read enough to be able to do grade level work in all of his other areas. He would fail everything in school due to his reading. And then he would get teased. But he is the one that really needs to go out every day and in some ways would like the routine of public school. I think if I had more money, I would do reading and math with him at home and then send him to VH or classes every day.

My first priority has to be them. Has to be homeschooling them. I mean, if it gets to the point where I can’t even feed them unless I work a traditional day job and have to put them in school, I would do that. I mean, hungry kids are not kids that can benefit from homeschooling. But so far we are not there yet, so they have to be my priority. It is very hard to shuffle what everyone wants me to do, though. Nik is bound and determined to do this business, and if that was my only other thing, helping him with it, I think I would be fine (and that is where we are trying to get to) but for now, I am the one making all the money with my other work…plus homeschool, plus helping him get this thing started. Its just very hard. It is one of those things where I feel like I am on the brink of failing all of it because I can do none of it well because it is too much. It is hard not to be angry at the people who did not fulfill their end of their role properly and who contribute to our difficulties (obviously we made mistakes as well, but we have always tried to handle them with contrition and restitution, and a ‘let’s work through this to everyone’s satisfaction” attitude instead of being vindictive asses.) We could have thrown some blind people under the bus to save us, but it just didn’t seem worth it. And although difficult now, I think in the long run, we will be proud of how we handled this bumpy road. The others, well, I am just glad I don’t have to live in their minds. But apologies for getting cryptic and off-topic.

Love in, love out. It is my new breathing meditation. A positive take on the “Garbage in, garbage out” meme. See the love that is coming in, concentrate on that. Turn it into  loving actions that you put out. And then my old standbys: chunking things into small, manageable pieces and taking things a day at a time. We will get through this. Although it is a time where it is especially hard to hear other people’s mundane problems and entitlement. But I try to keep in mind that to millions of people in this world, I would sound just as entitled.

Sooo, I will get to the past month’s highlights here. I did have some health issues, a trip to the ER for low potassium again, CONSTANT bleeding for the past 3 months and having to be VERY careful about diet to keep potassium and iron levels up due to that. There is probably a surgery coming my direction soon, but need to get health insurance crap straightened out so that is being put off until at least March. So, pacing has been key. And putting health up high on the priority list has been extremely necessary.

But we have had several highlights this last month. Let me look at the pictures and see what I remember.

We had trips to Zoo Lights, a Tour of the Portland Tram, a couple of visits to  Outdoors In. a river boat cruise, Naim made a Gingerbread House again with Ruoda, Grant came to visit and much UNO and geeing out ensued. Christmas and New Years came and went. It was lean, but nice. There was one visit to D’s house. There was movie watching with  The Christmas Story (and then we saw the Leg Lamp downtown), there was visiting the Christmas Tree at pioneer square, there was Christmas Eve at church, and a couple of visits to WeVillage.

Naim was featured in the Portland Family Magazine. It was basically a regurgitation of his TriMet Story, but he was excited about it. Here is Naim’s story featured on the TriMet blog. I think I forgot to post it earlier.

Academically, lets see.

In math, we have finished the last chapter except for the test. Then there is a cumulative review that we should probably do before we move on to the next book. So, two or three more days? Then their usual day off and then it will be on to 2A.  How bad do I feel that they just turned nine and are only in book 2A? I don’t know? Not terribly bad? I mean, they are moving along in math. They get it, they are learning things at a much more thorough level than I ever did. In some ways they are probably behind, but in others they are ahead.  I will just keep on chucking out singapore math.

As I said above, in reading, Naim is still working on Ch. 1 in Reading Horizons. To put that in perspective, there are only 6 chapters in the whole program and each chapter has about 20 lessons. He did all 20 on the computer before it became clear to me that he was not learning them that way. So I went back and started teaching each lesson by hand and not going on until he learns, learns, learns them. This includes ALOT of repetition and drill, which is not my usual way to teach, but Naim likes it that way and it does seem to work. We are now on Lesson 7 by hand, and then I use the computer for a review at the end, instead of being the whole thing on computer. I guess the best thing I can say is that progress is being made.

Aaron is chugging along in HOP Master Reader. He has finished the lessons from Orange Level (so 30) and is now reading the third Chapter book in the series. So he only has one level and one more book to go. He has also started reading other chapter books on his own. He read the Magic Schoolbus books he got for Christmas and now is reading Pokemon choose your own adventure books from the library. After he finishes HOP, I think I will just let him have reading time while I work with Naim.

They are both on Lesson 9 in Grammar. They both continue to work through their Sylvan books. Naim is skipping around in his 1st grade book. I try to make the Sylvan pages he does correspond with what he has done in reading. Aaron plods along in his second grade book, even though it is really too easy for him. I think what it is giving him mostly is spelling and writing endurance.

Aaron finished his handwriting book that was the last printing book in the main series in HWT. He has just started the cursive book. I thought I was going to have to work with him more on it and do some chalkboard work, but he is doing fine on his own.

Naim is still, still at the tail-end of finishing the K ZB book. I think he might have 3 or 4 more pages to go. I need to work with him on the placement of his letters. I would like to find a big (lap) chalkboard or white board with the ZB rule on it.

I also think we have done at least one music, one passports (Iceland) and some craft projects.

Avery’s Goddard school is not doing the printed DARs anymore. They just started electronic versions. Let’s see if I can put one up here, now. OMG! I can’t do it! Well I can, but I can’t without showing my email address. This might even be harder than the scanning. Maybe I can cut/paste the text. Interesting!Print all

Daily Report for Avery – Thu Jan 16

AVERY

DAILY REPORT – JAN. 16, 2014

TODAY’S NOTES

Weekly Theme: Sweet Treats

NAPS

1:25PM – 3:05PM

MEALS

Lunch – all of the Crackers, all of the Pasta

ACTIVITIES

Language Arts

We enjoyed reading If You Give a Dog a Donut by Laura Numeroff.
Cognitive Development

We practiced counting as we played a number scavenger hunt game.
Creative Art

We freely painted with delicious colors such as yellow and pink to express our creativity.
Music/Movement

We developed rhythm and tempo as we sang “Peanut Butter and Jelly.”
Motor Skills

We developed our gross motor skills as we played “Red Light, Green Light” outside.
Science/Nature Studies

We explored cause and effect as we mixed baking soda and vinegar and watched the outcome.
Computer Lab

We practiced typing our name as we played “Putt-Putt Saves the Zoo” on the computer.
Social Science

We freely discussed and listed our favorite “sweet treats” during circle time.
Memorable Moment

Avery had fun in martial arts today
Sent via Tadpoles

OOOOky-Doooky, then! Have to play around with that. But that is what Avery did today, I guess.Moving on, since I don’t remember much, I wanted to outline the next ten or so weeks.I am really starting to think that the kids need school in the AM and then classes or some kind of activity in the afternoon. Or vice versa, although I think we do better with school in the morning.What I have so far is like this:

Monday: AM Homeschool/ PM NWCT for Naim/Art for Aaron, Avery at Goddard

Tuesday: AM Homeschool/ PM Gym for swimming or something and my WW thing.

Wednesday: VH all day. Naim has Explorers, Schoolhouse Mashup (cross subjects with Dori, who is really good with him), World History, and Fun Sports. Aaron has Explorers, Cool Contraptions, Something or other about Pirates and Lego Building Club.

Thursday: We are trying homeschool PE through Parks and Rec, it is held at a gymnastics club.

Friday: Homeschool and that’s it. It seems like Naim goes on a lot of field trips with Ruoda, though.

Saturday: Make up day for school.

Sunday: I think I need to get them back to church.

When does one who has three other jobs do them? I dunno…D is mainly at night from about 8-11. So it doesn’t impede with the schedule much, it just makes me tired. Then I have UU and BAT (the code name for the new biz) and I need to fit that stuff in. Then I need to also have at least some time for school planning, home office work, laundry, shopping, meal prep, housework. Kill me now.

I need three more of me. And geez. So far only two of these jobs pay.

If I could get our business plan done, and set up quickbooks, I can turn over the company to Nik for the next little while, except for a bit of ongoing paperwork. D is what D is. I need to make sure to allocate UU time. Maybe Friday afternoons or maybe I can do some of it Monday while kids are in class or Wednesday while they are in class.

When the kids are 12, two things should happen. First, Avery should be out of Goddard, and they will be able to watch him sometimes so childcare will go down. Second, I think I will be able to consider letting them go to some of their usual places on transit on their own. This will free up SO MUCH TIME. And geez, If I can get Naim reading by then? I’ll have even more time because I will be able to let him go off and do some of his work on his own without spending hours sitting there walking him through every little thing. That’s three years…can I make it for three years? A lot can change in three years.

It will work out. It will work out. It will work out.

 

Sept-Oct Catch-Up, 2013

It’s the middle of October already! I have had a really hard time getting started and keeping up with homeschool stuff. I have been doing the necessities, actual homeschooling, but organizing and blogging has been difficult. From about September 4 -October 1, I was sick and just barely hanging on to the very basics of what I was supposed to do. And also any extra energy I had I had to spend on my job. So, the year did not get off to the start that I wanted, but we have come a ways into the year ok.

Classes:

They are on the fourth week of Explorers in VH. This is the class after Discoverers for third to fifth graders. There are less kids in it, and it is taught by Hillary. They are reading “Tales of the Fourth Grade Nothing.” They are in an upstairs classroom now. That seems almost surreal that they could be old enough to be upstairs. Their classroom has “Bill” the skeleton in it.

Naim has been in soccer and is more than halfway through the season. He has had trouble running fast and “getting in there.” It is not because he can’t do it, he gets distracted. We have worked on it (with me practicing with him) which doesn’t work well on one level because I suck. But on another level, I suck so bad I give him confidence. On his last game, he did a lot better.

He has also concluded his time with Erica, the child psychologist. This was a mutual decision to end this, but she is starting some other kind of job at a different health care office anyway. I think she served her purpose and Naim’s anxiety has gotten a lot better.

They started back at our local church. Due to the kid census, we have split A and N up into separate classes. N is in the 3-5 grade class and A is in the K-2 grade class, but they talk about the same topics. A is less mature than N anyway, so it works out better this way. I have held Avery back from preschool and kept him in the nursery for one more year. So, three separate rooms.

Avery’s ECSE is going well. He seems to enjoy going way more than last year. This teacher at least gives us monthly newsletters. His IEP meeting is coming up in a couple of weeks. I dread this big time.

September Newsletter
October Newsletter

At Goddard, he is in “The Ranch” which is the junior preschool level room. He seems to be doing OK in there and had his first conference last week. Here are his conference notes. And here is the DAR dump for the last six weeks.

Curriculum:

We have been starting out with workboxes and a morning meeting. The workboxes work good, but I have not been good about filling them up. This is mostly due to illness so hope to get better and have the kids fill them up with me. We also go over the calendar and work on things like memorizing addresses, months, dates, etc. at this time.

We are chugging along at a good pace in math. We are on Chapter 17 of 19 in our current math book, so soon I will have to order the next set.

We have been doing a unit study with the novel “James and the Giant Peach.” I really like doing these and want to do more, and see how I can incorporate them better into what other things we do.

Aaron has done the first 10 Lessons of HOP Master Reader and is now reading the first chapter book. He really, really likes this curriculum and the book.

Naim has mostly been working on the Reading Horizons online curriculum. I think we need to combine the computer with mom lessons because it is still not sticking very well, and since he is back at the beginning, it is old material. We are still working out the kinks of this curriculum and seeing how to best use it. We have paused working with HOP for now. I am not sure if we will go back to it or stay with RH exclusively yet.

They continue to work on Sylvan, Handwriting, and now grammar mostly on their own. I do think Naim’s handwriting is improving.

We have also done one lesson in Atelier and have completed three lessons in Discoveries in Music.

I am not doing any formal curriculum with Avery this year. He gets enough four days a week. On Wednesdays, we hang out at the library and park. We also do a lot of talking and naming things. I have thought about putting him in Little Villagers while the big kids are in Explorers, but I like hanging out with him on our own. He is talking up a storm.

Fieldtrips:

Since I have been sick and I always have a ton of phone calls for my job in the afternoon, we have not done a lot of field trips. But we just did three in a row last weekend. All of us went to the children’s museum, then Aaron and I went to Lego KidFest, and we all went to Lakeview Farms with the UU families for pumpkin picking. I took only Aaron to Lego Fest because he missed the OMSI lego exhibit when I went with Naim alone, and then a few months ago Naim went to the Washington County museum and Aaron was supposed to go to a lego convention with me, but he was puking sick so again did not get to go. And this was a little pricey so it saved money. Next year I will consider taking both of them, on a Friday so there would be less people. I don’t think I could handle Avery there, yet.

Picture Dump:

August 14-23, 2013

Oh, one of these again. This is more because my memory fails me on the specifics of what we do if I don’t post at least every couple of days. Bad me.

Sooooo…..(drawing a blank.)

Avery has been a good little Goddard Child. I am noticing that they are putting him in the next room over and I am getting DARs from that room. It’s not a big deal, but I just wonder if they are planning on telling me what’s up? Is this a ratio issue and a temporary thing or are they getting ready to move him? Reports here and here. He is off today because I am going to put him in more days next week while the kids are in camp.

Highlights of Schoolwork….

  • We finished Ch. 15 in HOP dealing with Calendar and Time.
  • Aaron has finished ALL the work in hooked on phonics. I am so glad. He will be starting HOP Master Reader for 3rd grade.
  • I have Naim’s curriculum for Reading Horizons and he did a bit of the early assessments. He did better than I thought on some sections but got 0% on recognizing and discriminating vowel sounds. He always tells me he can’t hear the difference between like /a/ and /e/. It is frustrating. But he did seem to like the new curriculum interface.
  • We read and did the work for DER “Busy Bea”.
  • They did their usual stuff with handwriting and sylvan
  • They did a kiwi crates box where they made recycled paper and leaf-print bags. That is the last one I had. I really like those things, the materials are such good quality. But, alas, saving money for now.

Fieldtrip-wise, we have gone swimming once, and did our last day at the Outpost, also got haircuts. Naim also had an interview with a reporter from the Hillsboro Tribune at a Starbucks, but she seemed as nonplussed as I was about why they would be doing an article on this ‘non-event.” As of today, there is no story. This all went down from Naim filling out a little rider profile form on the TriMet website. He got a ton of attention for doing it…and then nothing. And he was so excited…that it has just been a fucking headache ever since and I wish it would go away. It has taken up my time to deal with it and I really don’t know what to tell him about why nothing is published like they promised him. (If they are not going to publish, fine. But just TELL ME and so I can tell him and be done with it. Sigh.) TriMet did send him a package of swag, so he liked that. But whatever.

Naim also started soccer practice. The coach seems less than social. Like to the point where I introduced myself and he did not even acknowledge that I was talking to him. Is this something white, hetero, able-bodied males can get away with? Or is he on the spectrum or something. I mean, he is REALLY rude. Anyway, we think he is kind of aloof to everyone, not just us. And Naim seems to like him, which is the important thing. He seems to do better with the kids. So maybe painfully shy? But how do you get through life like that? (hetero-male privilege???? The rest of us blind folks and otherwise have to WORK to put people at ease.)

They did end up putting him on a U9 team, rather than U8 like they promised us, so all of he teammates from last year are not there, which was kind of disappointing for him. But he seems to be bouncing back from that. I am not sure where the U9 team leaves us as far as transportation to games. We lost all of our parent connections for rides as well. So we have to start from scratch. But maybe this will mean that at least SOME of the games we can get to, rather than all of the ones in U8 we were going to need rides for. The game schedule has not come out yet. It will hopefully be soon so we can make arrangements, otherwise Naim will not get to play at games, which he knew would be a possibility.

We spent last weekend cleaning up their room and moving A and N in with Avery as an experiment. We now have a dedicated school room. So far, it is going really well.

Today, Naim has gone canoeing with R. It sounds like a lot of fun and a really neat idea. He was a bit scared, but I think he will do OK once he is there.

August 13, 2013

Aaron and Avery went to We Village and Naim and I went to get school supplies and his soccer stuff.