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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.


All that has happened…

I’m not sure how to get back to blogging. So, I will do a summary of where we are now, then go back and backfill as I can. It will probably be more like occasional posts.

Back in May, we visited the Village Free School. We went for an interview and spent two days with them. I admire what they are doing, but both kids said it wasn’t for them. And to be honest, the trip would have been long. It is located next to OMSI.

Then one day, after school had ended for public but before the office was closed for summer. I just took Aaron and Naim there to enroll them. I think I was just burnt out of everything. I was working several jobs and so was Nik and we are still just above poverty level and so we qualify for nothing and I just felt like my head was a jumbled mess.

When we were there, I talked to the principal about Naim and getting him evaluated for an IEP in the summer. She said it wasn’t going to happen till probably more than sixty school days into the fall. I just thought, well what will you do with him til then? It would be February before an actual IEP would be set up and in the meantime, how would he be helped with the reading he can’t read to keep up in all of his other classes that he is fine in except for the reading? Everyone just kind of shrugged it off. So then I decided to keep Naim as a homeschooler, enroll Aaron and put Avery in Goddard for four half days a week in the fall.

And that is what we have been doing. I am not impressed with Aaron’s school, but will hold judgement for a bit more. I have parent/teacher conferences on Monday and that will be eye-opening I am sure. I feel like I send him away for six hours to float. Avery’s Goddard has gotten really academic since now he is in preKindergarten. Its letters and numbers and worksheets for him now. I am paying up the ass for that and he grumbles about it a lot, but for now what it allows is for 4 days of 4 hours of uninterrupted Naim school time. Which I think really helps.

Naim and I have been using a notebook system to keep track of our work. It has worked well. I can easily sit there and fill out what we have done and what we will do next while he is working. I still would like to get him a neurodevelopment evaluation but the ESD won’t call me back, which is their tactic to wait list kids since wait listing is now allowed. If the don’t contact you; the process hasn’t started yet and the clock doesn’t tick. So, they could not contact you for months on end. I tried to go through my pediatrician; who referred me to OHSU CDRC but medicaid rejected it. So, we are just moving along. I am looking into what would be possible at Hillsboro Online Academy, which is HPS online arm.

So, where are we in curricula right now?

We are finishing up Chapter 2 (of 6) in Reading Horizons. We need to circle around and do some reviewing before we go on. As it has always been, he is improving in reading, but it goes at a snail’s pace. We started this curriculum last fall, and we have done two of six chapters. But I absolutely don’t move on until he knows it at at least the 85& level. So, we circle around a lot.

I added back in Hooked on Phonics. He kind of does it on his own as homework. He is at the tail end of the First Grade; First Level book.

We finished Math in Focus 2A and are at the beginning of 2b. This goes ok conceptually, but we work everyday on math facts and also reversing numbers.

I think he has done one or two practice handwriting books. I just have him do a page a day.

We finished the worry book and also A Life Like Mine, the UNICEF book. We started Hilyer’s A Child’s History of the World and also Covey’s 7 Habits of Highly Effective Teens.

We have moved along in Calvert Music (Lesson 19?) and Atelier Art a bit (Lesson 15?)

We have completed RS4K Chemistry up to Lesson 9 (of ten) so we need to think of where to go from there. He wants physics next.

We started doing Keyboarding without Tears, but the application was just horrible and didn’t work. Now we are starting anew, with another typing tutorial. We also have been journaling, where he dictates a sentence and I write it, then he copies it.

I think those are the main things we work on at home.

Classes and Activities he has done:

Starting with Summer camps, he did a pioneer camp at Washington County Museum that they (A and N) both really liked.

He did a NWCT camp about improv.

He did a DI camp at Village Home.

Currently, he has done one term in VH with Explorers, Drawing, Music, and DI. He is not particularly a fan of the music class, but to my surprise he loves drawing.

He also did soccer again this year.

Aaron and Avery both did Zoo camp this summer. It was Avery’s first camp. Avery was a penguin and Aaron was an otter.

Aaron also took some classes at PCAS this summer, and attended the same pioneer camp as Naim.

That’s where we are for now. It has been tough. I have had to struggle a lot with what every mother has to struggle with, balancing career and motherhood/homeschooling. Money has been exceedingly tight (we are living on probably the lowest per capita amount than I have ever lived on before.) D has been in and out of hospitals and nursing homes and I still work for him nights and it makes for very long days. The day time is childcare (It all falls to me) and still trying to get work done for our company and current contracts I have. I also got a guide dog in October, so that was 2 weeks out of town and then the work and adjustment of a new dog since being back.

It’s overwhelming, but we keep on and keep trying our best and keep trusting that we will know what to do when we get there.


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!


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.


  • 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!


August 4-11, 2013

Ok, So I think due to our A/C breaking down and my office being like, 98 degrees for the last week, I did not get any blogging done. I will review:

On 8/4, Naim and Nik went to a Portland Timbers reserve soccer game. This was a free ticket that he got from being at soccer camp. Since it was reserves, the stadium was practically empty, but he had fun. It would be nice for him to see the mayhem of  a full-fledged game. Nik rooted for the Vancouver White Caps and Naim rooted for the Timbers. I think they even had American and Canadian Flags. White Caps won.

On Monday, Avery went to Goddard and the kids did school downstairs because it was cooler. I can’t remember what they did right now. We also went to the library in the afternoon where we read some pokemon and superhero books and they turned in their summer reading poster and got their free books and stuff.

On Tuesday, we waited around for the A/C guy who didn’t show up, we tried to get some school done and Erika came for Naim and they went for a walk. In the afternoon, we went to the park and to D’s house for some cool air. They had fun going through the stuff they haven’t seen in 8 months. I should have let them do that awhile back. They also went with Nik to a neighborhood safety party at the park. They ate watermelon and talked to the police and fire people about safety stuff. Naim apparently entertained the firefighters a great deal.

On Wednesday, They went to the dentist in the morning and they went to Pump It Up in the afternoon.

Thursday I am drawing a blank, but I do know that I spent flippin’ days waiting for home repair people who did not show up.

On Friday, Avery went to Goddard and the kids did school. The A/C guy came in the afternoon. Also R. came to visit Naim for the afternoon.

On Saturday, they went to the gym with Nik.

On Sunday, we went to visit D in the nursing home and they played minecraft and other games with him.

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July 18-22, 2013: Oral Hull Camp

Soooo, we did Oral Hull Family Camp again. As parents who “work” the camp, we have a different parallel experience than the kids almost. I’ll keep this post about the kids’ activities.

Getting there was much easier this year. We took the train to Gresham and then were picked up at the train station by someone who knew how to drive. They bought two car seats last year, one was a booster and one was a five-point forward facing. I had heard that they took back the booster. By law, Avery still needs the five-point harness, but they bought the booster. I decided to let it slide. He could go up to the booster when he is 4 years old and 40 pounds, and now he is 3 1/2 years old and about 37 pounds, so as a safety thing, it isn’t that far off, but it is just funny because I specifically asked for the five-point harness. Technically, Aaron and Naim are not 60 pounds and 4’9″ yet, either…and they had no car seats at all. but we got there in one piece. (It was a bigger deal last year because our driver was completely incompetent and I WORRIED about an accident much more. I heard that she has lost her license and got fired.)

So, activities, (most of these refer to A and N only.) :

  • They did a building thing out of marshmallows and pasta.
  • They joined in a campfire sing-a-long
  • They went fishing and Naim caught a fish.
  • They went tandem bike riding. (Aaron rode a tricycle.)
  • They did a craft project out of clay, and did some kind of peanut butter activity (Naim was covered in it).
  • They went swimming.
  • They rode a hayride.
  • They played in the game room (air hockey, foosball, etc.)
  • They watched a video description movie outside and had popcorn and floats.
  • They finished their clay projects and I think played beep ball or frisbee.
  • They participated in a “challenge course” under sleepshades.
  • Aaron and Avery stayed behind while Naim went with the grown-ups and did a sleepshade O and M course. Nik, Jim and I were the leaders of this and he was in my group. He did very well as did my whole group, but another woman in Jim’s group had a complete meltdown. So we had a M and M session afterwards that Naim participated in. I am not going to write about it here, but lets just say there was a lot of whining and bitching, and Naim held his own well and really put some of those parents to shame.
  • They danced at a PJ Sock Hop where Aaron wore his pajamas over his clothes.
  • They went on a short hike to a waterfall.
  • They played at a playground.
  • They rode on little ponies.
  • They did archery.
  • They participated in a presentation about planets and the solar system using scale models.
  • They made their own pizzas and sundaes.

They also swang a lot and hung out with our friend, Jim, a lot and basically ran around the camp and had a lot of freedom. Naim likes the freedom best. Although Nik and I still have some (a lot) of issues with Oral Hull, when you look at it from a kids perspective, they really do a wonderful job with programming. The kids did a ton and had a lot of fun. The staff really treats them well and is very nice. It is a safe, comfortable place for them to hang out. I am always ready to go home but they are very sad to leave.

Avery did some of the activities above but he fought fatigue and maybe anxiety. He walked around A LOT. But did not participate in a lot of the activities much. He always wanted to go home or go back to his room and rest. We spent a lot of time babysitting him while he slept. He did participate in the pony rides. At first he did not want to, but then he said, “I want to ride the cart.” (one pony had a little cart behind it.) When we were riding the cart, he asked the lady who was with the pony to drive him home, it was pretty funny.


June 6, 2013

Avery went to ECSE. He came home with next year’s calendar and his summer (maybe next years?) teacher. That place sucks so bad it is not even funny.

Anyway…I was sick with something awful, but we did get some school done.

  • Did practice book for Lesson 5, Ch. 13 in MIF
  • Each did 2pp. Sylvan
  • Aaron did worksheets for Lesson 2 in HOP (he actually did the worksheets for lesson 1, since I accidentally switched them. That means for lesson 1, he did the worksheets for Lesson 2 before even having the lesson. I don’t remember him having too much trouble with it, though.)
  • Naim did Bonus book and read story for Lesson 17 in HOP
  • Aaron did number 5 in HWT
  • Naim did Letter Ss stuff on iPad for ZB
  • Aaron did Little Passports for Ireland.

May 28, 2013

We went to the Children’s Museum because Avery did not have school and they had a new Dinosaur exhibit. Avery was really happy about the dino exhibit and just being there. He also carried around a stuffed basset hound for a long time. Woof Woof! We spent some time in the clay studio because we had been reading about Maria Martinez. Naim made a nice little pinch pot. Aaron made a snake/cobra. I found out there is a glazing and pot throwing lesson on Sundays, so maybe we will go to that when we pick up the things from the kiln.