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    Avery, Naim, Aaron

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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.


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.


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.


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:

July 28, 2013

We went to church and kids went to RE. Avery and Aaron stayed in the nursery and Naim went to class where they made “coins” with themselves on the face of the coin. Lily emailed me later with some questions for fall and said that they talked about love and Naim said something about how you have to balance the love you give with the love you received. (Naim’s had ‘muscles’ of course). After they played in the playground with Seth, Jordan and some other kids.

Naim answered a questionnaire about TriMet and they want to do some kind of rider profile on him and asked for pictures. So we tried to take a few with all of us. Avery wasn’t cooperating, but we got a few.

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 23-24, 2013

Kids went to church for the second time. Avery went to child care and big kids went to class (which is all combined in summer.) They learned about Olympia Brown, a UU suffragist who was the first woman to graduate from theology school. They are really happy to be back there. Who knew?

Monday, Avery went to Goddard and here is his DAR. (Daily Activity Report).

Naim and I also took a quick assessment for dyslexia. Not surprisingly, the results showed some evidence of auditory processing weakness and working memory also. It is not an official diagnosis. We talked about dyslexia and what that means. He seems to be somewhat relieved by the idea. Many moons ago, I was certified to administer several different LD assessments. My licensure is outdated now, but may see if I can get my hands on a more formal battery. I’d rather do that than go through the whole psychologist/IEP route. It isn’t like there is too much different we can do anyway. There is not too much “magic” to this than what we are already doing. But he is starting to notice that other kids are far ahead of him, so I think it gives him a reason as to why that is. He is also bored with the K – 1st level reading and I have looked for more mature and interesting yet easy materials for him. There is a program I am looking at called “Reading Horizons” that is made for older struggling readers. It uses the Orton Gillingham method, which is phonics based but with a few different approaches. It is pricey, though. We continue to do our extra 15 minutes of reading at night. We have done much with iPad apps such as Starfall, Reading Rainbow, and Bob book apps. He does well with computer game stuff. I wish reading rainbow would level their books. It is a great app but it is hard to find a book easy enough. I have Avery on there at age 3 and it even gives him hard books.

Big kids morning school:

  • We did a review of Ch. 13 and did the test. This was a definite goof on my part. After a week of camp, I should not have given Naim the test, yet. He missed half the problems. I think if I gave him about 2 or 3 solid review days, he would have done OK. He did understand it before. Aaron got all correct. He has some wacky ways of doing math problems but always gets the right answer. He does it all in his head so it is hard to figure out what he is doing. Sometimes I have him talk through it and what he comes up with is rather ingenious.  So be it. But he is not going to be a “show your work” kind of guy. Naim and I will find some time to go back over the test. They will hit all this material again when they get to addition and subtraction in 3 digit numbers.
  • They both did 2pp. in Sylvan
  • Naim did lesson 1 in FIRST GRADE! HOP. We did the DVD and the workbook. He said, this is going to be too hard for me, but he did fine. It was a lesson on the digraphs ch and sh.
  • The HOP website was not working so I could not download Aaron’s worksheets. So he read “This Book is Broken” to Naim. (ETA: fixed and he later did the worksheets for lesson 4.)
  • Aaron started his new HWT book. The first few pages were just easy hand-eye lines and figures.
  • Naim warmed up in handwriting with a toy of Avery’s where you stick these button peg things in holes to make pictures. I had him alternate hands and stick them in and pull them out. He does so much better in handwriting with a fine motor skill warm-up. He worked on Pp on the iPad apps.

We later went to the library to sign up for the summer reading program. I wanted to do it last week but our usual library is under construction till next year and was closed. So this one we took the bus to. I read Naim a few books, one about an immigrant who fled her war torn country and was a “boat person” refuge. It lead to some interesting discussions. Since that bus comes, like once a century, we decided to walk the two miles home. The first 1/3 of the walk is nice because we get to walk along the duck pond. Some other people gave the kids leftover bread to feed the ducks.

June 17, 2013

Avery went to Goddard. Apparently they had the Children’s Museum come and do some activities with the kids. They had them all in matching blue Goddard shirts, so they looked like a bunch of corporate minion billboards. Bet it was so they could take a bunch of PR pictures with the Children’s Museum people. But free shirt! Here is his report in summer “camp” format.

Wildwood Recreation Area ripped from the 'net.

Wildwood Recreation Area ripped from the ‘net.

Aaron and Naim started OMSI’s Hit the Road camp. This camp takes them to all the places we can never get to. They have to leave early with Nik and do before/aftercare. Today they went to Wildwood Recreation Area, which I think is near Mt. Hood. They said that they went on a hike and went somewhere where they could see under water. They had a map and seemed to know where they were going. They also played games like one called “shark, shark minnow” which sounded a lot like duck duck goose.  They are in before and aftercare, which sounds just like they are in a big room with some toys. The pick-up and drop off went well, but everyone is tired tonight.

Here is the schedule for my own reference (whale watching! so jealous!):



They did their nighttime reading tonight. Naim read one of the Calvert books “Dot” and one of the Bob books, “Fun in the Sun.” Aaron read Click magazine.

June 12, 2013

We went up to Goody’s to celebrate Naim’s completing K HOP and Aaron completed his HWT book. We went to the apartment playground afterwards and got caught in a downpour. I had found out that D was having surgery that day. I did not tell the kids, but it was a sad day for me. I did talk to him briefly in the morning and we emailed right before he went in. It went as well as can be expected.

At Goody's, our new, very bad find.

At Goody’s, our new, very bad find.


The apartment playground (behind Goody’s).


Naim likes plain old vanilla.

I sent this picture to D.

I sent this picture to D.

We walked back through the apartment hallways. But they went out to stand in the rain anyway.

We walked back through the apartment hallways. But they went out to stand in the rain anyway.

January 20, 2013

We went to Church, which may be for  the last time or so. Which I am feeling a bit ambivalent about. It has been building up over time. We have had really the exact same issues with this church as the last one, and that has been very disappointing. That quote that I think Ghandi said that goes something like “The opposite of love is not hate, the opposite of love is indifference.” describes our experiences to a T.

I actually think this church did a worse job than Little Church when you think that they are bigger and have more staff. Looking back, little church didn’t do half bad! But since we started going a year ago, it was constant fighting for the simplest accommodations. All we asked for were the following:

  • a working assistive listening device that consistantly works every week.
  • preferential seating in the first few rows (this was not only for my vision, but due to the fact that the assistive listening device did not work in many parts of the room. Something I asked them to work with me on, but they ignored, so figuring out where it worked literally took months of trial and error.)
  • Braille and/or large print orders of service, including words to songs.
  • Some assistance getting around coffee hour and potlucks.

That was it! That they could not pull off without us begging for it and nagging and coming off as “those disabled bitches.” Now, of course, we wanted to take it further, like having a volunteer disability coordinator (which could have been one of us), incorporation of technology into services (i.e. orders of service or sermons available electronically before hand to be used via iDevices during service.) And training for staff and members who wanted it on disability civil rights issues. Also, we offered training for other parishioners that may have hearing/vision issues that we were offereing as a free service if the church could provide space and announcements, possibly childcare. But we did not even get that far in the conversation. And I was NICE! I tried to learn from my mistakes at the other church and make sure I was offering solutions, not just whining about problems and being really positive about it. But we were just literally ignored. And why should I go week after week when I am just SITTING THERE and cannot hear or see or participate and it is just making us feel bad? And again, the kids start to notice and then you are kind of like…what am I teaching my kids? That it is ok to marginalize their family? What are they learning there?

I also joined EqUUal Access, but found it to be fairly inactive and looking more outward rather than inward. And they seemed extremely intimidated to say anything negative about the UUs. They would agree that yes, it is a big problem, like the whole  diversity problem within UU in general, but that it is just too sensitive of conversation and people are not ready to have it yet.

It never bothered me nor surprised me in the least that the UUs would need help learning to deal with people like me and my family, but the complete unwillingness to talk about it and the hyper defensiveness when you brought it up was completely surprising. I was, I guess, supposed to be so greatful about the fact that they had even thought about an Assistive Listening Device and not really go so far as to make sure it actually was regularly in working order.

The final straw came Sunday separately for Nik and I. I had gone to class with Naim because it was about death and this is an issue that is really hard for him to deal with.   He struggled in class, and half way through, during snack, he got really upset and started crying. Tears streaming down his face. I took him out into the hall to talk privately, but he was getting more worked up, so we went for a run in the courtyard and that helped. The thing that got to me was how shallow the death discussion was (not that I expected to be that deep with this age) but just how it was bringing up death and then just letting it go splat out there in a contrived way that didn’t go anywhere. I felt like I put my kid through this for nothing and no positive outcome. The second was that my kid is crying and not one teacher bothered to stop and ask how he was. No concern or notice whatsoever. I know they must have been letting me handle it and that is fine. But you would think at least a kind word. We went back to get our stuff in the last five minutes…and nothing. It was just so typical UU. There is no “THERE” there. It is all talk and no action.

Nik went to the service and it was about MLK. Our black minister talked about his personal experiences and Nik felt like they related to his. So on the way out (there was no one behind him yet) Nik complimented him on his sermon and said something to the effect that he related in some way. And the minister said, “Did you get our large print order of service?” Not that this has anything much besides back patting to do with what Nik said, but no, Nik did not get a large print or Braille order of service because their were not any that day. Which happens on regular occasion. The minister basically then just blew him off and walked away. It was, he said, completely dismissive. And if it was just a one time thing, it could be excused as he was busy or thinking about something else, but it happens ALL THE TIME. Almost every conversation.

I do want to say that I do not mean to say that collectively UUs are a bunch of shallow hypocrites. Just that it appears that they are at the paid staff level, or management /pastoral level systemically as it were. The only exceptions are that I do think both of the DREs at both churches are very sincere and conscientious about what they say and they have always tried to be helpful and accepting to us. There are also many members that are like-wise very nice people. But it kind of isn’t enough for the effort we are trying to make, unfortunately. We can’t even reach these people when we can’t even access the service to even be able to comment on it at social hour or whatever. We cannot volunteer for service projects easily when we do not have access to the information about them. If they cannot even TALK about accommodating us at the service, how can we expect to be accommodated (necessary for us to effectively and usefully volunteer) in other settings?

They are always having articles and discussions in UU World about how they are not growing and are bleeding members, especially the kids that grew up UU. And I want to say to them, it is because what you profess to be is not what you are. And that is ok because who is perfect? No one. But then you cannot even look inside of yourselves honestly enough to open up to other people. You all need to just GET OVER YOURSELVES. Have the hard discussions and try to stop spending so much time complimenting yourselves. Yes, you do some wonderful things and have some wonderful principles. But for me and many others like me, going to that church feels like being on the outside of a glass sanctuary. I can see in. I can see everyone doing all these nice things, but I am not allowed in unless it is to allow you all to use me to compliment yourself on your diversity wonderfulness.

I have a lesbian friend and she attends an Episcopalian Church. She said, everyone said to her for years, “You’re gay! You should try UU!” And so she did for a few weeks, but she said she felt like a token. The patting themselves on the back because they accepted her made her feel UNaccepted. She said she never felt so gay, and although she is proud to be gay, she doesn’t want to walk around with a big G on her head every Sunday. I feel like that as well, but with the addition of not having access to basic church services at the same time. The hypocrisy stings.

So, it is sad because I do value some of my experiences there and I will miss it. But it just doesn’t justify getting the whole family up and heading down every Sunday for that crap feeling we always seem to get, and that is spreading sometimes to the kids. So we are thinking of what other things we can do to replace it, because we just don’t want to drop it and forget about finding a “soulful” bonding experience that we can do as a family and with community.

So ideas are:

  • We could go back to little church, or at least sometimes for special events.
  • We talked about “nature Sunday.” Doing something for the earth each Sunday.
  • We talked about all of us taking family yoga, since our health is sort of one of our biggest  concerns and the body is the temple and all that.
  • We could find a service project to do.
  • We could utilize the church of the larger fellowship materials and perhaps do it on our own or with a small group of people in our home.

So, I don’t know. It is with very mixed feeling that after over 8 years I am surrendering to the fact that the UU  Church is not going to be a good match for us in the foreseeable future. But time and life is short, and I have made enough of an effort. And as she says, “No longer lend your strength to that which you wish to be free from…”