Huckleberries don’t take federal tests.

A Day in the Life, Why
Although I was home-schooled for a bulk of my k-12 education, I took the full battery of Washington State standardized tests and I pretty much crushed them because my personality and outside experiences were a good match for test taking. I got a sense of personal satisfaction and identity from being in the top 90-95% just about every time.
 
I wish I could take every test back. For several years now, I have been increasingly convinced that standardized testing is unwise and unhealthy, even for those children who do the best at it. I know I spent at least 90 total hours on testing and test prep, and I wish I had just taken another 5 college credits, or written another awkward juvenile fantasy novel, or read fifteen more classics, or basically anything else that I could have done with 90 hours. It is absurd to me that so many collective hours are blown on standardized testing by children, who never get anything back but a false personal ranking.
 
And now for a truly disturbing development:

Please Do Touch

A Day in the Life, Why

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It’s really really fall now, and that means more indoor adventures. We have a great collection of favorite places now that we have lived in Tacoma for a few years, and the top favorite remains the Children’s Museum of Tacoma. These days, there aren’t very many places where kids can practice making their own choices and controlling themselves without worrying too much about mistakes. We love the Museum because it’s a safe place to take some risks and jump into exploring. It’s full of things to touch, press, spill, climb, splash, pour, drop, paint, squish, and pile up.

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“I like painting and I like playing. And I like painting butterflies.” -Edie

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Our recent visits included some great interactive community sculpture. Above, Edie investigates a jump set where kids have been rolling wheels through paint and down the slopes. We check out the tracks left behind by everyone’s wheels. In another room, a potter’s wheel provides a spinning surface for bull’s eye drawings. Edie admires rainbow collection and adds one of her own, while Rory manipulates the mirrors and light tables nearby.

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Both kids work together on the dials and toggles in the cockpit. Rory throws a switch back and forth intently. Edie zooms in to count the numbers on a pressure valve.

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Rory discovered a new friend inside this under-stairs cave. He pops back out to introduce me and add his board to the peg panel just outside.

Each of our favorite places around town invite us to engage and participate in a different way. The Museum always provokes us to see the world in a new way. It’s so hard to leave, and we can never wait to go back!

Now We Are All Three

Why

 

 

 

 

This has been a crazy and challenging year for our family, and I am so glad our friends and relations have been so understanding. While many of the transitions we’ve gone through are fun and exciting (in some ways), pretty much all optional activities were jettisoned early this year. While we are starting to piece things back together, the future looks like more crazy, and I’m still deciding how to balance responsibilities while we wait for that magical fairy tale land of Back To Normal.

However, one of the big important things I want to prioritize is remembering and treasuring this time. It’s also important to get back in touch with all the people we really care about and who I know care about us. I have missed so many great photo opportunities, showing our daily lives and the special times with people we love, but I’d like to take this post to share the sweet things I did capture. This will be a lot of photos and not so much story, but hopefully we can get caught up and be ready to share our upcoming joys as well.

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Park time

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Early summer water play

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Iris’s Ballet performance of “Wizard of Oz,” with Edie in Iris’s previous recital costume IMG_20140613_102954

Edie and Aydan at the water table at the Children’s Museum of TacomaIMG_20140613_104154

Edie and Aydan build their city in the museum Studio

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Edie and Grandma on the phone to Aydan

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Trying on some costumes at home

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Seattle waterfront adventure with Kelly and Heather

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Reading with Anty Kelly

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Icecream with Mimee

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Navigating a washout with Poppy

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Huckleberry hunting on the Olympic Peninsula

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River splashing with Mama

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Drinking a waterfall with Poppy

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Climbing at Snake Lake with Maren

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Surveying the yield from Grandma and Grandpa’s vegetable garden

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Holding chickens with Iris

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Yoga poses with Mimee

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Showing off Ivy Princess crowns with Iris

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Hiking with Jamison and MC group

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Waterfront at Winslow with Daddy

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A quick mile jog around Snake Lake with Mama and Iris

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Baseball game with Grandma and Grandpa

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Picking blackberries with Mimee

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All Worn Out

 

Most of this year has had me crashed out like Edie in this last shot, but by the beginning of next year I should be recovering some energy and we’ll start to hammer out our new normal. In the meantime, I’ll do my best to keep you updated on the handful of adventures we have left, and about mid November, Edie and I will be excited to present you with the newest little huckleberry!

Why Huckleberry School (By Mama)

Why

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Edie says I’m allowed to write a few posts on her blog. I write my own blog too, but she gets so much more traffic than me! I thought I’d start out by sharing the main reasons behind the Huckleberry School project. Huckleberries are a plant that grows wild from sea level to the mountains, and the red tart berries are one of Edie’s very most favorite food. She ate them by the fistful all summer, and there is something about that voracious, eager, sensory activity out in nature that captures what I want for my wild eager child. Bright, natural, local, easy, delicate, tangy, and wide ranging.

Memory. The number one goal of every Huckleberry School post is to save our memories of our adventures with family, friends, and all the good things out there. Edie talks about good things and bad things, and all kinds of crazy things, mostly because we want to save these moments. In the course of a day, Edie makes discoveries that will never surprise her again, and I like that they are stored here to replay later. What would the world be like if all grown ups could look back and understand their earliest discoveries through the eyes of a child?

Family. Having our special moments saved and shared online makes it easier to include our family scattered far and wide, and including family is a high priority that I am not always good at expressing. Fortunately Edie is better at it than I am. By family, we include dear friends that contribute to Edie’s life and development, and the friends who wish they could and are too far away. We love all of you, and hope that your days are brightened by Edie’s messages.

Documentation. While teaching preschool before becoming a mother, I fell in love the Reggio Emilia practice of documentation, where teachers make extensive records of children’s developmental progress and they ways they express their learning through their language, projects and play. Having photos and notes on hand make it easier to remind Edie of the new experiences and ideas she’s had, to inspire continued processing. It also makes it easier to reflect on our activities for me, so I can plan interactions and adventures that build on previous exploration.

Community. In a broader way, I hope that Edie’s experiences give something of a reference point for other children (and parents). It’s fun to share our special activities, but we also try to document something of the quiet moments in between and the gentle rhythm of life we stretch to capture- and sometimes succeed. We try out new ideas and revisit the things that worked for us before. Hopefully we don’t leave out too many rough spots and give a distorted picture… but naturally when Edie’s in her worst moods she doesn’t feel like composing a big message, and we can’t seem to get clear photos …. There is definitely some filter bias.

Inspiration. For me, the biggest benefit I didn’t expect is the opportunity each post affords for me to look closely at my daughter and try to really understand her experience and help her communicate it. This may surprise some of you, but Edie is not quite so proficient a typist or speller as it may appear from blogs only. It is a precious practice to me to sit with her and try my best to see through her eyes, drawing on my own childhood memories to decode the confusing bits. Fortunately she now has enough words to get across what is important to her mosy of the time. We have this brief window of time when I can give her relatively full attention, and I love the moments when we make a deep connection. I couldn’t bear to loose one. But for all my teary pre-nostalgic rambling, don’t be fooled. It’s all her idea.

Whatever it is, it’s all her idea.