Bringing preschool to us

I have in mind a blog post that will need to be organized and careful, and perhaps in parts, but I’m not quite there yet. It’s about how I think Owen will be best served, at least until he’s 6 or 7 (and then we’ll see, beyond), and I want to break down the details, like where we’d fit on the radical unschooling vs rigorous boxed curriculum continuum (neither end, but leaning toward the former) and how I need to get my shit together enough to present it to other parents (and other concerned people/relatives, though they don’t actually have a say) in such a way that it works for Owen and me, and our four-person family as a whole, while making sure he’s “learning” visibly in such a way that it’s clear whatever way we are doing it is working.

But I’m about to get into detail, and I don’t want to now, so I’ll stop that direction and go the direction i wanted to aim:

I got a kick in the pants that direction this week.
I’m really picky about preschools. I have spent years teaching in them, and have been lucky enough to have been mostly in those that are progressive, emphasizing child-directed learning, no structured curriculum, and a focus on helping children (and adults) learn about other people and the world in ways that work best for them.

Now I’m in a town where a school that calls itself “play-based” might have 30 minutes of outside time or 15 minutes of “free play” with blocks or toy cars between mandatory “centers” where kids put apple stickers on the outline of an A for 20 minutes. It’s so frustrating.

Finally, I found one, a new program, montessori-influenced with a lot of waldorf around the edges. Kids would spend most of their time outside. Academics, where they were there, were couched around real play, e.g. teachers helping kids figure out the counting with montessori tools while they were selling each other rocks at the edge of the digging dirt. It was 75% of perfect, and I could cope with the rest.

But this week they announced that for undisclosed reasons, one week before opening day they’d chosen not to open.

I’m sure their reasons are good, but I’m just tired of the process.

Owen is a monkey

So I’m taking it as a hint. Rather than fuss and put him in a school I don’t find awesome, I’ve emailed our local unschooling mailing list, where I often find announcements of park days or events that are too far away for us or focused on older children, and said I’d help organize something local to me, and also my kid wants to go play at the Children’s Discovery Museum with other kids, which pushes that age level down a bit as well.


Owen is learning all the time. He’s so curious. He craves learning. He also craves socialization, and he needs a lot of physical activity.

Owen, Casey : New Year's Day 2014 : Dry Creek Regional Park

I struggle sharing good physical activity with Owen because my rheumatoid autoimmune disease is in massive flare and walking’s hard, but I’ve redoubled my focus on dealing with that, because I’ve become avoidant (fatigue, after years of trying medications that don’t work for me) and I want to do better physically so I can do more with Owen. This will also allow me to be a homeschooling/unschooling resource for getting kids Owen’s age out and about and doing things together. He loves other children so much. It’s the only way I can be fair to him.

Once the weather gets wet (oh please please please weather, get wet) we can certainly invite kids here for art-and-movie days, or other kinds of play.

Rather than go look for preschool, we’ll bring preschool to us.

uhoh, ran out of contextual reasons for photos

physics it's that sidewalk chalk time of year Owen, Chabot Space and Science Center Untitled Untitled  cablecaradventureP1080602 polarity  Owen's photography career started with a tube. freight train

Now I want to live in a yurt

My family, eventually, wants to own a home. They’re expensive, around here, and we need to stay around here. We need four bedrooms, we need not to have a lot of stairs. We need rooms for dogs.

Then relevant to an entirely different discussion, my friend Sarah pointed me at yurts.

Now I have a plan:

I want maybe a quarter acre. I want four yurts, maybe five, smaller ones for bedrooms, bigger ones for a shared space for me and Owen (he says he’s happy to sleep in a loft) and and maybe a smaller warm cooking/socializing space. They can be on decks with big verandas, shared decks with partial roofs, or connected by causeways, etc. Depending on how functionally and financially sensible it seems, we can also use either yurt-space or wooden buildings for a workshop. These will need to be plumbed, wired, and with the various options we’d each need (like taller walls, insulation, proppable vent dome, and you know I’d get radiant floor heating) costs would add up, like maybe 10k-50k per building all told, but that’s still lots cheaper than building a house on property here.

Yurt, outside

The property would be the most expensive thing.

I wonder how easy it’d be to get permits.

I wonder the extent to which my family would be all for it.

That’s probably the biggest hurdle.


Headed for New England: What are we forgetting?

We used to run off to Boston regularly to see friends and have adventures, but haven’t been since Owen came along, and now we’re planning a trip in early autumn.

We’ve never made such a big trip with a kid! There are things we need to see: always the ducks, maybe the science museum, apple picking at Nashoba. But there’s a lot we don’t know about at all. We have maybe four days, which will be combined with socialization, down time, and a little driving in the general area in a triangle formed by Cape Cod, Bolton, and BOS.

And I’m making a shopping list (right here) of things we might need for the airplane, quiet times, for Owen to have something to focus on when needed.

What am I forgetting? What should we definitely see, what should we avoid, and what will we need to remember for the trip (red-eye both ways) that I’m completely forgetting? He’s 3, and though he’s super-active, he seems most interested in books and ideas and activities meant for kids in the 3-5 range.

me and the ducks
(Based on this photo, I calculate that we started our Boston visits nine years ago. I always visit the ducks. Always.)

maybe I should just cut my hair short

Earlier today I aimed a post at facebook, with hootsuite, and accidentally sent it here … but didn’t realize it until much later. So here’s this one-liner. Apologies. The link’s now spreading so I’ll leave it.

maybe I should just cut my hair short again and dye it pink/purple/blue RT @mactavish: Pride 2014

Pride 2014

This has been the second year in a row I haven’t marched in San Francisco Pride, after having marched in it for years before.

I feel sort of weird about that, it’s been just about my most important holiday for ages. I’m too gimpy right now … even if the Bay Area Bi Network has a truck for our contingent that I can ride in, getting *to* where the contingent waits then waiting there is really hard for me at this degree of gimpiness.

And this year, too, I just sorta wasn’t feeling it. I know that there is some inherent political expression in it, no matter what, but the political kerfluffle got a bit much for me last year, I’m starting to feel a little bit of a party line to toe that I haven’t felt in the community since I was much more peripheral to it, back in the seventies and early eighties, when my eldest sister was in a community of pretty hardcore lesbian socialist activists, some of whom (for instance) would have huge arguments about (say) the need to support lesbian mothers and let them bring their children to lesbian spaces while at the same time maintaining womynspace, and thus the need to draw a line about letting lesbian mothers bring boy children to gatherings, the need to decide when a child developed “boy energy” enough to be excluded. And of course, trans was right out and bi highly suspect.


As I said, I was very peripheral to that mini-community, an interested and welcome bystander of a sort, but the feelings of “wait, it’s more complicated than that” have been arising around Pride and politics for me these days, with the concurrent discomfort in discussing how I feel about the issues.

But I love Pride, and I love identifying as queer and having that all be part of my life. I love contributing to bisexual visibility. I love the party. I am just not as sure as I used to be how to participate in a way that feels full and comfortable for me. I’m in a two-mom-one-dad household but my primary romantic partner is male, I have no female partners. I have a kid, but I don’t feel like i’m out on the queer-mom front lines the way other two-mom families are, where the moms are a dyad. But the shape of my family is a lot of who I am right now, a lot of what makes me queer.


I’m a very middle-aged, gimpy, suburban nowhere-on-anyone’s-gaydar white mother of a preschool-aged boy. What do I do with this?

an aside

I want to go camping! but no way can I sleep on the ground anymore (I used to camp, quite literally, in a sleeping bag on a poncho, no tent) nor even set up a tent these days. But I want to take Owen camping like I used to do. So I think I’ll get a pair of cots, if I can manage that much next summer, and rent or borrow a van or small camper, and take the boy camping. We can sleep outdoors, and run inside in case of (rare in summer, here) rain, and I can not have to cope with as much fumbling and pain, and it will be camping.

Island in an Island

I don’t remember why I was poking around at the general Qatar/UAE area on google maps, but Owen saw islands in the Gulf and wanted to look more closely at them (“zoom in! zoom in!”) so I did, and this is one that we looked at, and he noticed that it has an island in an island, and loved it for that. It became his favorite island in that moment.

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