Thursday, May 6, 2010


Since moving to Oregon, I've been regularly hit with all the many reasons we made this move:

*The delightfully cool and drippy weather that we love.

*The excellent shopping. (Not that we shop more than the average family, but it's nice having direct access to all the things we want and not being forced to shop online or drive an hour and a half to make a purchase.)

*The steady stream of community activities, things to see, and places to go.

*The people. (To put it simply, we fit here.)

First and foremost though, we moved here because of the schools. The schools here in the small towns outside of Portland are really, really good schools. When Jay and I were researching potential places to put down roots, the schools were a huge deciding factor.

Here's the thing about my son-he's a great student and he's always done well, but he needs to be pushed into trying new things. And if he thinks that something isn't going to interest him, he won't even give it a shot. He's always gotten good grades and the Florida school system has taught him many things, but they didn't give him a love of learning. He knows facts and he knows how to do well in school, but the idea of being a lifelong learner has never really appealed to him.

As his parents, Jay and I have tried to fill in the gaps, educationally speaking, and expose him to other things, but it's been hard. There were times I didn't have the resources or even any idea as to where to begin. And of course, since we are his parents, we're usually met with resistance anytime we try to teach him anything new.

Anyway, back to his school here in Oregon. The boy is doing well and getting good grades, which honestly we expected. What we didn't expect was an almost immediate exposure to new and different things. One of the big events of the sixth grade school year is Outdoor School, where all of the sixth graders go camping for three days. This is a pretty big deal and a major part of the curriculum, but I've seen the difference on a smaller scale as well. For instance, today the boy came in the door and immediately pulled this out of his backpack:Do you know what that is??? It's baby Elphaba from Act One of Wicked! Not only is my son in a musical theatre class (a class long since cut from the budget in Florida) but he's being exposed to Wicked! Plus, he was so excited to share this with me because he knows I just read the book a few months ago. (Excuse the folds in his drawing, but it's a huge improvement from the wadded up balls he usually brings me.) Do you know how excited I am by this? The theatre, and the arts in general, are what I've been trying to interest my son in his whole life. I'm overjoyed that he's being introduced to things like this in a classroom setting. This makes it all (the financial hit we took, the fact that we're living in a teeny apartment, etc...) worth it. As Jay has said numerous times, the only thing we regret is that we didn't do it sooner.


mandy said...

"The people. (To put it simply, we fit here.)"
oh man, I'm so jealous of this one, we recently moved to the middle and we so do not fit here.
I love your little one's drawing, and wicked, in school, seriously, awesome!

hester said...

Portland sounds like a great place to live. I thought of you when I was reading that Richard Louv book about lack of nature in children's lives as he mentioned a school in Portland with a focus on outdoor learning. Maybe it's where the Boy is.

Dani said...

This is all so great for you and your family. I'm glad it's all coming together.

Sometimes the sacrifices really do pay off.

Margaret (Peggy or Peg too) said...

Tammie this is so great!
Those damn liberals who believe arts, physical activies outdoors as well as science and math make a well rounded open minded person.
Oh No! What next Alec Baldwin showing up?....tee hee

This is great great news about your family!

alisha said...

love, love, love hearing all this good news, tammie. you're helping me keep hope alive for my own family :)

Daphne said...

So awesome!! Outdoor school is so much fun. I went, myself!

So glad you are feeling so happy and positive about the move. It's just going to get better and better.

Sarah Parsons said...

Love it! I just love it! I have to say, the completion of my own childrens' educations played a major role in my decision to go back to school for Elementary Ed. I love the outdoor education idea, I did some research on that last summer, and it's unbelievable that more schools don't utilize that other "classroom" as much as possible. Not just to teach about nature, but just to teach. The great outdoors are just that, great. And I'm so so so happy to hear your son is going to such a great school. It's all the difference in the world.

Maria Rose said...

We are looking for a place to lay down our roots and the pacific NW is looking good. Nice to read through your journey!

~ The Jolly Bee ~ said...

I knew instantly who the boy was drawing....Love "Wicked" -- we went to see it in December.

I'm so glad you've found your fit. I know where mine is, but I can't get there until I retire (big, huge sigh inserted here).

Happy Mother's Day to you.

Oh -- a little package is coming your way. Per the USPS, it should arrive on Monday -- but don't hold your breath.

Tammie said...

sarah: i know right?! even just taking the usual lesson out of doors can be more enjoyable for kids. looking at the same four walls everyday gets dull.

i was thinking about you as i wrote this because i know you've gone back to school. and i dont want it to seem like i think FL teachers are bad, i just think the system as it is, kinda works against them.

Lia said...

Outdoor school sounds really cool. We have a few schools here that do things like that. Wicked in school is awesome, too.

victoria said...

yes, I think you do fit. perfectly. There is some unexplainable feeling I get when I'm home. It feels really good.

Visty said...

Where do you live, exactly? We're in Sherwood. Don't tell any of the axe murderers. The boy's school did Outdoor School this year, and he did not want to go. He had never been away from home for that long before (3 nights/4 days) and he didn't like the idea of going with strangers (his best friends were being sent to the other camp). I am a little sad he missed the opportunity, but it's his choice, and he had a fun week with the other 20 or so kids who didn't go. The school had a whole week planned, with two field trips, etc.

Anyway, just wondering where you are, because it seems like we are close!