Archive for the ‘School’ Category

Happy Birthday, Sylvan! You’re 8!

Posted by julie on Tuesday, 17 September 2013, 19:04

Sylvan just after turning 7, a year ago

Sylvan conducting our singing of “Happy Birthday” when we celebrated cousin birthdays a few weeks ago

Dear Sylvan,

As I was looking at photos of you from a year ago, I expected to see not much difference from last year to this, to see a boy who was just a little smaller, a little rounder then. That’s true, but those changes make a big difference. You look decidedly different now—longer, leaner, toothier. A third grader, more than halfway through elementary school.

Your Dad and I filled out a questionnaire for your new 3rd grade teacher, Janine, whose first question for us was what you like and enjoy. We wrote something to the effect of: reading books, dressing up in costumes, chess. I looked at your Dad and said, “He’s going to play D&D when he’s a teenager, huh?” Well, yes, except it won’t be D&D but the fantasy game of the age for black-clad teenagers who wear trench coats.

Some people’s cats like to play in boxes…

One of your absolute favorite things right now is laser tag. Loud music, black lights, guns with no consequences. I can definitely understand the appeal. Your birthday party was a laser tag party, and consequently we have only a few photos of the party, all from cell phones. Crazy Voodoo Doughnut laser tag party!

Is that my shirt?

Elena’s first day of Kindergarten, Sylvan’s second day of 3rd grade

You’re not only taller with a rock-solid little muscular body right now. Your attitude’s changing, too. You’re much more willing to have your photo taken, for instance. That might seem simple, but, in the past, sometimes the camera would instigate a foul mood, like so many other things in your life. You still sometimes make silly faces at the camera, but that just shows your personality. You rarely stare sullenly at the camera anymore, willing it away. You rarely stare sullenly at anyone anymore. You’re still not Little Mr. Sunshine, but your subtle gentle humor is more likely to emerge to defuse stressful situations than your whiney little boy voice.

That change of attitude has permeated your actions. For instance, when we were back in Dover for a week at the end of August, I asked you and Elena if you’d like to hike up to the Stone Church one afternoon. Elena—usually up for anything—refrained, but you said, “Sure.” You explored the stream, checked out the church, and climbed up to a ledge just outside the church’s entrance. When I stopped and talked to loquacious gentleman, you very politely came up to me to remind me you were there, then went out to assemble munitions depots, and repeated that a few times as he talked to me. He and his wife were very impressed with your patience and ability to entertain yourself.

On the cliffs near the Stone Church

He can walk on water, folks

You and your closest friends—Cole, Robbie—enjoy outdoor explorations. I’m happy for their influence on you. While I enjoy living in a place where we can walk to school and to the store, I wish you could explore outside every day, that we lived in a spot where you could. It tears at me, knowing that you won’t have that everyday connection with the outdoor world.

That brings me to my biggest concern about you right now: that you don’t like school. You didn’t even give it a chance this year, before you wept before the first day and said you didn’t want to go. I wish I knew what was behind this for you. Is it social anxiety, true boredom, a lack of desire to do hard work, a real belief that you can’t do the work?

“Why can’t you homeschool me?” you asked. Because I think the social aspect of school is important for you, and because you wouldn’t do the work for me. Oh, and because I’d go insane. Don’t forget that one. And sometimes it kills me. I could take you out and let you explore outside. We could develop much more emergent curriculum, based on your desires and interests. We would both undoubtedly learn a lot. I want you to love school; would you, if you were homeschooled? Who knows? I do know that I’m going to make it a priority to help you solve your problems around this issue yourself.

And I do know that I love you.


Waldo Lake paddleboarding

First Day of School, with Sisterly Help

Posted by julie on Thursday, 6 September 2012, 1:20

First day of 2nd grade, with a little help from little sister. How awesome are those green school shoes?


Sitting with friends, even though most of his friends are in the other class. He's so lucky that he gets to sit next to Miss R.; she rocks.

Apparently, being in 2nd grade makes one big enough to attempt a recipe by oneself. And succeed. These cheese straws were great. All I did was grate the cheese, and only because I was already grating it for my soup.

Look Who’s a Kindergarten Graduate!

Posted by julie on Wednesday, 13 June 2012, 0:03

And also 6 3/4, but we’ll hold off on the birthday letter.

I can smile with my enthusiastic teacher Polly and dribble at the same time.

World's best teacher's aide Sonia along with her daughter Terra. (silly smiles are so much better than no smile at all)

The first day of school, last September. I was trying to drag a smile out of him.


Sylvan, yesterday. This time, after a few silly photos, all I had to do was ask for a smile.

Elena’s first day of preschool

Posted by jonesey on Tuesday, 29 November 2011, 6:17

[A post from the past. Explanation here.]

This one is from way in the past. March, 2009. I told you I had a stack of these things.

For the first few months of Elena’s life, she spent all of her time with her family. She was a pretty good-natured baby, so Julie even took her to work with her. Elena would hang out while Julie worked, occasionally asking politely for some attention.

At about six months, however, she started to be self-propelled. And to grab things. This new activity, while developmentally appropriate, was incompatible with an office environment, so it was time for Elena to start going to “school,” which is what everyone calls the kids’ preschool around here.

So we packed the kids into our newly-purchased double jogger (thanks Craigslist!) and rolled them over to school.

All smiles.

Elena napped in the jogger on the way over to school, saving her energy for the big day. When she got there, she met one of our favorite people in the whole world: Lori! Lori had been Sylvan’s preschool teacher when he started going to school, and she ended up being Elena’s teacher from the age of six months to almost three years.

OK Dad, I'll try this.

Lori predicted that Elena would be so excited that she would only nap about 20 minutes, instead of her usual hour and a half or two hours. She ate and drank everything that was offered. When she woke up from her nap (20 minutes, as Lori predicted), she was very sad. It was the first time she had ever woken up and not found a family member around. Lori, in her infinite wisdom, took Elena to visit Sylvan in his classroom.  He touched her gently, introduced her around, and told his friends that he loved her very much, and she calmed down. Big brothers can be useful.

Elena’s first big day at preschool ended at 2:30 when Julie picked her up. She’s been going a couple of days a week since then. She’s in the “big kids” classroom now, with three- and four-year-olds. She is still sometimes sad when she wakes up from her nap, but she’s solving that problem by deciding not to nap at all. Ingenious.

Adventures with Clive

Posted by jonesey on Tuesday, 22 November 2011, 21:59

“Who is Clive?” read the note that was in Elena’s mailbox at school last week.

“You may be wondering why you have a ‘Winnie the Pooh’ bag hanging on your child’s hook! That bag is the traveling home for our classroom friend, Clive.”

And so began the adventure. Clive has been traveling home with children at the kids’ preschool since 2000. He has been all over the world: South Africa, Taiwan, Disneyland, and all over Eugene and Springfield. Children take turns hosting Clive, introducing him to friends and family, and taking him on adventures.

When Clive returns to school, the children talk about his latest adventures during circle time.

Today was Elena’s day to host Clive, and to take him on adventures.

We started with a trip to the store. We needed some cheese!

Hmm, Montzarella? Cheddar? Maybe some smoked gouda?

Then it was off to Edison School to pick up big brother Sylvan! (Fair warning: there are lots of exclamation points in this adventure.)

Waiting for Sylvan to finish his day at kindergarten. Someday soon I'll get to go to this big kid school too.

We traveled in style to our next destination….

Clive, where's your helmet?

… the playground!

Clive is HEAVY.


Then it was off to Sylvan’s karate class, where Clive brushed up on his equestrian skills.

Is that your saddle horn, or...

Whew! It was an exhausting day!

Close your eyes, Clive. Good night!

P.S. Not shown: Clive and Elena watching a Princess Movie(!!!!!!) while Mommy makes dinner. No photographs of this alleged event are known to exist, and Mommy will deny that it ever happened.  She is a Good Mommy, after all. Isn’t she? Good night, Mommy.

University of Oregon president reading to Elena’s preschool class

Posted by jonesey on Friday, 4 November 2011, 17:46

Here’s UO President Richard Lariviere reading to Elena’s preschool class.  Elena is sitting farthest from the camera, under the wooden table with the arch in it. You can sometimes see her hair and her sparkly pink shoes.

You can see a picture of him reading to Sylvan’s class as well. Sylvan is in the third (bottom) picture, wearing a green and off-white shirt with horizontal stripes. You can only see his back, hair, and one ear.

Both kids were suitably impressed.  Elena told us all about the story of the cat who had a bunch of different colored shoes, and Sylvan said that his story was a Berenstain Bears story about a bully.