Monday, July 13, 2020

Turmoil, Frustration, Suggested Solutions.. A journey back to School…

Greetings,

School Board members and Superintendent Stephens

I am writing this message with a lot of mixed feelings, personal struggles, antidotes, frustrations, anxiety and stress, and some ideas / suggestions.

I know you must be overwhelmed with email messages at this time, so if you want to skip the context you can scroll to the end and read the ideas, but know in the middle are the details, thoughtfulness and turmoil I and other BUSD families have been feeling over the last 2 weeks. I'll be referencing both Lyra (6) rising 1st grader MX and Holly (12) rising 7th grader Longfellow.

I'll start by saying I'm writing this message because I know you have impossible choices in front of you! Maybe you have all the information and have already seen and heard all the same thoughts and stories that I'm hearing from other parents but maybe you don't and writing this may help you in the decision making process.

Turmoil, Questions, Concerns, Frustration:

1: As you know, the election form did not get received by everyone.
  • Parents who have received other district communications from you did not receive this.
  • Implying that is was not received because parents have the wrong email on file further alienates parents.
  • At my schools (MX & Longfellow) shared these various messages via etree in hopes to reach more families, many families are not checking email right now. A robo-call might help.
  • At Longfellow we don't have a Principle or Vice Principle that is available to send a robo-call or even field questions from concerned families, and those administrators won't be here in the next 7 days when this form is due.

2: Previous letters to the Board and open comments at Board meetings have been made by me and others in regards to special education.
  • Yet no Town Hall for sped families happened or as far as I know is in the works. Info for Sped specific concerns has not be mailed or emailed out to these families. 
  •  An introduction letter or even a simple message to Sped families from the New Director has not went out addressing any of our concerns, letting us know he exists if we have questions, or providing any information that would allow us to make an informed decision on the selection form. This lack of communication alienates 10% of your student population.

3: Last month we were advised at PTA council and School Board presentations that children under 11 would not be required to wear a face mask... during that last meeting on July 1st it was slipped into the presentation that the new requirement is all children over 5 are required to wear masks..

At the School Board meeting in the Zoom Q & A I asked:


"did I hear this correctly? Kids over 5?" No one typed a response to my question or acknowledged it (which I get that there is no requirement for you to do so) but at the very least it might have tipped you off that this would be a concern... MOST parents saw this the first time in your letter earlier this week.

  • Lyra refuses to wear a mask. We put it on her and it's off before we go from the house to the sidewalk. For this reason she has only been in the car or walked around the block a few times in the last 18 weeks.
  • The idea that instead she will wear a face shield or that there is one that would properly fit her tiny head is crazy. She is 6 and weights about 35 lbs. Me trying to force her to wear a mask or face shield every day would be more traumatizing then not seeing another child for and additional 18 weeks.
  • Assuming I could somehow get her to school wearing either of these items (she really want to go and see who her first grade teacher is, she knows them all!) how will the teacher be able to enforce that she keep it on? What about all the kids who have sensory issues, learning or behavioral delays that don't understand why they have to have "this annoying thing on there face"? What will happen when she gets inside to the classroom and is scared, upset, or uncomfortable and begins to cry for mommy. Her teacher can't hug her.. can't even hold her hand while walking her to the office to wait for me to pick her up.. Who will be in the classroom with the other 11 kids making sure they don't touch each other or take off there masks while my daughter is getting walked to the office to go home...
  • How many minutes of instructional time will be lost.. not only during this scenario, but while teachers are enforcing hand washing, and other safety protocols. Why are we telling people that this illusion of safety is actually safe for families? What about when they take all this gear off to eat lunch? Who will put it back on them?
  • At the last board meeting, several parents and teachers spoke in support of not opening schools; during the meeting Superintendent Stephans sited the AAP (I'm paraphrasing here) as saying it is worth the risk to open schools because the damage of being isolated at home is worse... however in less then two weeks the AAP has already walked back that statement. 
  • See article here:
https://www.npr.org/sections/coronavirus-live-updates/2020/07/10/889848834/nations-pediatricians-walk-back-support-for-in-person-school

It took us over 30 minutes to take this photo:



4: In thinking of the above nightmare, I guess that means for Lyra the only option is to choose Distance learning, even though I know that face time with other kids is better for her mental health. (Not that the hybrid model actually allows for Face Time... I'm a careful reader and also noted that desks would all be forward facing so kids would not even be looking a each other) seriously.. what the point of even being there then?
  • I am also personally a high-risk individual so for that reason we are also strongly leaning towards DL, although I know for Lyra being around other kids, particularly with her friends from her kindergarten class would be ideal. Over the last few weeks we social bubbled with one other family making our pod of strictly eight people only. Lyra was able to have one on one time with a friend.  Adults wore masks the kids did not. This greatly improved her behavior, her regression, her nightmares, her fear, her crying and whining, her tantrums... so I know having time with other children is invaluable. But not like it's being described in the hybrid model above.
  • I am worried that  If I choose the distance-learning option I be assigned to a pool of teachers that is not necessarily one of the four first grade teachers at my home school (MX) if this is the case what happens to her if the Hybrid option never happens? Will I still be assigned to DL or will I default back to one of my four MX 1st grade teachers.
  • Since I started writing this a few days ago another parent said she was told from a BUSD source that if on-campus learning does not start, the DL pods won't happen and we would do DL with our assigned schools... I really shouldn't have to rely on FB to get these answers.. and maybe it's not correct... IDK!
  • In my personal situation our Kindergarden class student group is looping but has not yet been assigned which first grade teacher our class will get. 2 of the 4 teachers are ones who previously taught Holly during her Elementary years and Lyra has know them since birth.
Baby Lyra with Holly in First grade playing at the MX school yard with Nippy, the class pet.


The option I want is... 100% DL with my MX class and one of my MX teachers.. this isn't an option I can choose. How do I choose that option? There is no place for other on the form.
  • In the spring even though Lyra loved her Kindergarten teacher and has many beloved friends in her class Zoom was still hard. She would cry if she didn't get called on, she would get frustrated waiting for her turn, when it was her turn she would get scared and nervous and feel put on the spot so she wouldn't talk... she thrived for the small group and 1:1 meetings with her teacher, and Loved watching Kindertube video's from our whole team. But this worked because she had relationships with these teachers.

Even with the best circumstances, Zoom didn't always work:


  • I can't imagine a DL option where the teacher doesn't already know Lyra. She knows all the 1st grade teachers, even the ones who didn't directly teach Holly because not only am I the PTA president at MX and have been in a leadership role there for 7 years...but the teachers make an effort to get to know ALL the incoming kids from the previous grade because they know it makes the transition easier, and the times in the past when I had a brand new teacher at the school (for Holly) we were allowed as parents to volunteer in the classroom and help that teacher out.
  • So as you can see the DL option as presented last month, doesn't really work for Lyra either.  It's our current thinking that we would choose this but basically Homeschool..

5: What am I left with? Home schooling?
  • I've considered signing up for Hybrid and not attending the 2 days of in person instruction.. is that an option? ;this way I don't lose my spot in the class) If we are absent 2 days every week are we even truant? In that scenario does the school lose money on those days if we call in sick
  • I've considered signing up for DL and not making her participate and simply doing the minimum required assignments for her to pass and teach her myself, as if I was homeschooling.
  • I'm part of the berkeley families groups (which has over 2000 members) and dozens upon dozens of families with kids aged 3-8 are discussing what a homeschool option looks like, how do we sign up, can we form in person small group co-ops with 2-4 families... many of these parents are incoming Kindergarten parents who can't imaging starting school for the first time in this environment. I've been the oppositional voice in these discussions, over the last 4 months. I've argued that if they opt out and homeschool public education loses, BUSD loses, we all lose already diminished funding and I fear that we might not have a public education system to come back too... but given the options and communication around what school would look like for a brand new student, I can hardly blame them...
  • A month ago I encouraged families that BUSD would be flexible, they would meet your needs, there would be a way to make DL work for there family just like homeschooling might but they would also have educational materials and a structure to work with. Now I'm not so sure if this is true.
  • When asked about DL one principle told the family that there will be almost no one choosing that option and that her child might be in a multi-grade group with a teacher that has never taught that grade before because most teachers are not choosing DL. SHAME on that principle, more on this below.
  • If families opt out to homeschool for a year, do they lose there placement? If families sign up for DL what happens to their connection to there assigned school? How can PTAs and families support each other when DL classes have no affiliations?
  • So homeschooling isn't really a great option either...

6: Last month it was presented that teachers would be allowed to opt out of classroom teaching and be added to the "tele-commuting" pool for the DL Academy. Survey results showed that more then 35% of teachers did not feel comfortable returning to classrooms.. It was also presented that some type of documentation regarding concerns or risk factors would be required, I again felt assured that BUSD would take care of its own and not force teachers and staff to risk there health and well being (there lives really) by requiring teachers who were not comfortable returning to school to do so. I falsely assumed that there would be leeway and compromise in qualifying for this option.
  • I've talked to several teachers who would opt-out but they don't qualify. Many of our teachers are close to retirement age, a crisis we worried about last year concerned we could not fill these positions, or they would not be around to mentor new teachers. However many of these teachers although not always comfortable with technology made great strides in DL during the spring and due to worry about there age and health would jump at the option to teach DL. But there situation does not rise to the specific level of CDC guidelines that BUSD is rigidly adhering too. But those aren't the only ones, we have pregnant teachers, teachers with toddlers or younger babies who will have difficulty finding available and safe child care situations for there kids. Here are some examples.
  • "I, personally, am terrified at the thought of returning to school.  I have a weak immune system and for the past few years, have used up all my sick days fighting colds and flus that I get from my students.  But BUSD is only allowing teachers to opt out if they have an underlying health issue as listed in the CDC guidelines, so I will have to teach in person."
  • Our teachers WANT to be in class with there students. A teacher would not frivolously, choose to opt out if it wasn't for a good reason, knowing there own health and body should be reason enough. The CDC guidelines are limited and narrow, a lot of research has not been done yet. Many conditions may put people in a higher risk category but are not yet listed, the list changes monthly.
  • Another teacher states, "I have a child with Autism who can not care for himself on the days he would not be in school but right now I don't know what care options are available for high school students. Autism is not an underlying condition so I don't think I qualify to opt out, but I don't know how I can continue teaching either!"
  • Teachers are our most precious commodity.. why are we putting their health and wellness at risk. Why are we not trusting them to choose for themselves and there own families which option is the best fit without arduous qualifying processes?

7: Let's talk about Middle School.
  • Longfellow has not had a Principle or Vice Principle for the last several weeks to plan anything for the proposed "safe" start of school in 5 weeks. Paco Furlan won't On-Board until 7/22 as I understand it (is he attending meetings?) Ms Henderson was working on a master schedule based on normal return to school options in the spring, which is much more complicated that elementary class assignments. How will Longfellow have the resources to be able to create a new Hybrid schedule in only 3 weeks.
  • No information about on-campus classes have been shared with families. What would that look like? Would students stay in one classroom and teachers would rotate between them? Would students be required to walk from one class to the next staying 6 feet apart? Who will be checking temperatures when they come to campus? How can I make a choice when I don't know all the facts or even what my options are. When the DL model was presented, there was also no mention of who would teacher those classes at the middle school.
  • I'd be happy to choose the example DL schedule presented on 7/1 under the assumption that was with our Longfellow teachers. Holly has an IEP, in the DL model will she retain her Longfellow case worker? What about her IA? She is having an amazing summer school experience, but that is because I was able to persuade her Longfellow caseworker to teach the middle school distance summer school classes. Had it been another teacher we would have opted out.
  • If we choose DL will her current case worker be required to coordinate with 4-7 DL teachers she may have never worked with before? How will that work. Will she have to do that for her already over filled caseload of 12 kids? That's untenable, yet I certainly don't want you to assign me to do one else.
  • Last spring we already had IEP meetings discussing which teachers and classes would be the best fit for Holly. I'd love to have those classes offered via DL just like in the spring.
  • Our teachers transitioned great, in spite of learning curves they rose to the occasion and were responsive Holly thrived both academically and socially. Being at home she was released of much of the day to day anxiety she suffers from just trying to function as a "typical student" normally brings. This allowed her to focus on just the learning.
  • This is not true for all SPED middle schoolers. When I say thrived, I didn't also mention all the time I put in creating calendars, daily schedules, read allowed, practicing math, helping navigate google meets and zoom, remembering office hours, finding links, completing projects, checking grades, turning in assignments. Constant reminders, charts, check in's. It's hard for teachers to guide a unmotivated, distracted, shy, nervous kid from a screen. But they did (with a little behind the scenes help from me)
  • I am privileged, I recognize that. My choices and struggles are biased by that privelecge, I get that too. Holly and Lyra had 2 Full time parents at home helping them manage DL in the spring. Not all parents have the ability to do that. I know I'm saying Hybrid will not work and we should decide now to go back to school in the fall with a fully online program so we can be prepared, but DL did not work for lots of people either...
  • I get this is an impossible choice and you can't make everyone happy. BUT we are wasting valuable time thinking about and debating these choices when we could be improving DL to meet the needs of all students. We should be spending our time advocating for the structural resources we need to allow students to be safe and well educated at home in a DL Model, while making accommodations for the limited number of kids who have no other option but to be in school, and allowing the district to fully meet the needs of each group, instead of the proposed half measures that meet the needs of none.

8: Parents and Staff are not nurses: As far as I can tell the Alameda county re-opening plan allows for self wellness and temperature checks at home...
  • If parents are already upset over the work they have missed during this pandemic, do you ready think they will keep their kids home with a low grade fever?
  • However my understanding is BUSD will require temperature checks upon entering school but they will rely on parent volunteers to implement this? I must be misinformed, but if not parents then who?
  • Our school has a volunteer rolling drop off system where every class is required 2 weeks of the school year to send volunteers to man this in the mornings.... every week we are short volunteers, parents sign up and don't show up, they are late or forget. In the temperature check scenarios only half of our school families will be on campus at any given time further decreasing our volunteer pool.
  • Teachers will be inside at this time checking in with there Parallel A/B group.
  • Perhaps if we had school nurses during a pandemic to field these things we might be in a better place, but again if I understand correctly there is 1 school nurse for 11 elementary school? How is this screening and quarantining of sick kids going to work?
  • According to the ACDOE roadmap guidelines, "We are committed to supporting our schools and educators with the resources they need to make the difficult decisions in front of them and to welcome students and staff back according to district reopening plans" What resources are those exactly? Funding for the personnel needed to open campuses safety? Funding for cleaning supplies, funding for classroom supplies times 24 instead of 2-5 (when kids share)
  • Have your kids ever come home with Lice? My kids wear braids and we use anti-lice detangler. Yet, we have had it 3 times during TK through K.... Covid-19 is more contagious then lice.

9: Many parents have reached out telling me that if school were to start tomorrow they would not send their kid into the hybrid system, however;
  • They chose hybrid on the Fall Program Choice Form because they assume schools will not reopen under the current conditions so it's a moot point.
  • If somehow schools do reopen, even though as of today 7/11, Alameda county is now on the state watch list, http://www.acphd.org/media/591931/press-release-2020.07.12.pdf  Its easier to switch to DL when school starts and they wouldn't want to risk their space if things (Magically improve) which they won't.
  • Additionally... as far as I can tell this statement is false: "The city of Berkeley is following a reopening roadmap that's currently two stages away from opening up schools to in-person instruction." Because, According to the city of Berkeley website Roadmap FAQ when asked;
Q: What do I do about my kids? I have to work.
  • A: The Order allows childcare establishments, summer camps, and schools or recreational institutions to provide childcare. (And if fact city camps are open)
Q: Does this Order require that schools shut down?
  • A: This Order requires that schools generally stop holding classes at physical locations within the City. However, schools (including public and private K-12 schools, colleges, and universities) may open for in-person summer school. Schools are encouraged to provide distance learning to their students and to provide free and reduced-price lunches for takeaway or by delivery. The Order also allows schools to provide care or supervision of children, provided that they comply with the mandatory conditions on childcare facilities outlined in the Order.
I then read the order:
  • According to Section 15.f.xiv - "Educational institutions—including public and private K-12 schools, colleges, and universities—for purposes of conducting in-person summer school, facilitating distance learning or career internship and pathways, conducting or participating in COVID-19 related research, or performing essential functions, or as allowed under subparagraph xxvi, provided that social distancing of six feet per person is maintained to the greatest extent possible"... ...Are essential businesses (which are allowed to be open per the Order) 
  • This assumption is based on my reading of; sections 7, 11, 15.e, 15.f.xiv, 15.f.xxvi, 15.h, 15.k,
https://www.cityofberkeley.info/uploadedFiles/Health_Human_Services/Public_Health/covid19/COB-health-order-n20-10-phased-reopening.pdf

  • My conclusion is that BUSD must not have met the Site Specific Guidelines on Appendix A of the order that Qualify it to reopen now for summer school. But the guidelines could be met with time and funding
  • I interpret this as the Shelter in place Order does not specifically prevent busd from opening schools, but rather the lack of resources and infrastructure to meet the requirement of essential businesses site specific guidelines does.
  • In agreeing with that premise, I ask, what will change in the next 5 weeks to allow us to meet the guidelines that have been in place since 6/18? And assuming our resources will not be increasing, but the number of Covid-19 cases still are, why are we still discussing half measures and hybrid models and not accepting the reality of our situation?

Solutions and Ideas!

1 : What if we followed suit with Oakland and started off the school year with 100% Distance learning. We give teachers the opportunity to show how much of an improvement it could be over the spring. We can then survey parents class by class and figure out by grade level how many parents want to return to school? Then we can ask teachers to volunteer to take over these in person classes.

It could start with small hybrid cohorts using protective gear but many parents could opt to wait until there kids can return to school without requiring the classroom bubble to have masks, shields, and social distancing.

This is the model I love and have been dreaming of. Today I was over joyed to see it written down and articulated so much better then I could here:

https://www.change.org/p/arlington-va-public-schools-support-oneaps-a-return-to-school-rts-model-that-prioritizes-teachers-and-students/psf/promote_or_share

2: What if we instead of requiring teacher to provide documentation to opt out we require parents to provide documentation to opt in and show they are an essential worker who has a high need for there child to be in, in person classes to be able to work.

Then once we establish how many parents qualify to opt in we can ask teachers to volunteer to teach those in person classes by creating full day/full week care that meets the needs of essential workers and vulnerable populations, and then slowly increase the number of in person classes as deemed by demand, qualifying factors and a true diminishing of Covid-19 cases in our communities.

In thinking about the current Hybrid Plan, Right now item 7 of the Order does not allow you to be part of two Social Bubbles or two separate educational and extracurricular groups. While I understand waving this for teachers who would manage two distinct and stable groups, what about kids who are going to limited aftercare. They are not remaining with there initial class bubble, or kids who come in on alternate days. These mixes of student groups definitely do not follow safety guidelines.

Buy instead creating a parent opt-in qualifier you could offer full time classes with aftercare for some of our most vulnerable students, and our essential workers. Academic teachers and aftercare teachers can rotate in/out of the classroom allowing the kids to stay in the group. Most of the initial families qualifying would be families that typically have there kids in learns/bears/aftercare already.

Teacher's can join an opt-in list to be pulled from as need arises. Teachers moving from one delivery method (DL) to In Person can create a planned transition of their DL students to another grade level teacher at there school.

Last spring at MX our Kindergarten team started a YouTube Chanel. https://youtu.be/09dv7tl4u3k  We watched all the learning videos from all 4 teachers it was wonderful. They pooled their resources. This provides a wider variety for the DL students and an easier transition to another virtual class when a DL teacher migrated to the classroom.

3: if you are unwilling to decide now that the return to school will be 100% DL for at least the first few weeks, then consider the letter you received from BPTA asking for you to delay the deadline and offer a town hall for parents to ask questions prior to filling out this form. Why not allow both the Town Hall and the delay happen.

During the town hall you can explain; exactly what's missing (to allow us to return to campus) and why we are hearing *if* we are allowed to rerun to campus.

Based on that *if*, if we don't know (which based on item 9 above we do know a return to campus is allowed and I'm sure we have a list of tasks to accomplish to get a stamp of approval)...

Then BUSD can definitively decide to either delay a return to campus by 4+ weeks or definitively say, WHEN we return on 8/17, if you choose "Hybrid" XYZ will happen and if you Choose "Distance Learning" (DL) ABC will happen.

Fully explain these scenarios to parents. (Not in hypotheticals) When will we get our assigned on-campus teachers and bubble group (Maybe not Friday at 5:00PM) but perhaps a few days earlier so parents whose kids are not on the same schedule can perhaps find ways to partner with other parents to swap, or parents who have to work know if they got into an alternative day care program, and others could form family social Co-ops for DL days not on campus.

For kids in DL especially kids with IEPs they may have a chance to meet with and conference with there teachers before school starts.. in both scenarios that's a good idea and has always been and Is still written on my daughters IEP.

I'll state for the record I don't think opening on August 17th is the right choice, but if that is the direction BUSD is taking, this option not only allows parents to make an informed decision but have the information they need to mitigate their child's and their own stress over what these two new alternatives to school will look like.

As PTA president of two schools I worry about our ability to support both groups in these scenarios, as it feels like the DL kids will be disconnected from their school community and management and over site of the DL Academy is unclear, however I think because DL kids will actually get 5 days of facilitated interaction with there groups the smaller bubbles might create much better communities then the Hybrid kids who are only on campus "interacting" for ~8 hours.

Getting these answers allows School Site Community leaders time to creatively find solutions to these and so many other issues.

4: Listen to the demands of BFT.

BFT advocate that in-person instruction will not resume unless both the Berkeley and Alameda County Departments of Public Health lift the Shelter in Place Order

BFT advocate that in-person instruction will not resume unless confirmed cases and hospitalizations are decreasing in both the City of Berkeley and Alameda County for at least 14 days.

BFT advocate that in-person instruction will not resume until there is widespread and accessible COVID-19 testing available to students, families and staff.

They go on, I'm sure you have seen them... they are not unreasonable, many Are advocating for not returning until there are zero cases for 14 days.

Watch this presentation;

https://www.facebook.com/groups/556929314976213/permalink/558784911457320/

The Safe Return to School webinar on 7/11/2 brought together educators, parents, and students to share information about safely returning to school by adhering to the highest international safety standards.


Here are results from two polls we took on the webinar:

When asked, "Given what you know now, do you feel comfortable returning or sending children into school?", 95% of 59 people polled answered "No".

When asked, "Do you support the campaign to "Refuse to Return" to campus until our counties report no new cases of COVID-19 for at least 14 days?", 92% of 51 people answered "Yes".

5: Another post that so articulately responds to the pressures districts are feeling to go back to school.

https://www.facebook.com/1189326321/posts/10223140759245889/?d=n

Society is broken. We should never had opened up when we did, otherwise we might not be here today.. numbers don't lie.


Guess which one we are?
Going back to school is not safe.


Vicki Davis

Thursday, June 2, 2016

Stanford MRI / NIRS Research

We are currently participating in a longitudinal 5 year study on girls with fragile X. Today was the last day of the first research session.. At Stanford

We had two main activities.. To complete, the NIRS and an MRI.



Yesterday we did 4 hours worth of cognitive and language assessments and eye tracking data collection.. Then Holly did a practice MRI while I was doing a parent interview.. I was told she did great and hoped we could immediately complete the real MRI but there was no availability..



I'm sad to report that my fear came to reality and given a day to perseverate on the upcoming MRI Holly ended up having a panic attack and we only got 1 partial scan of the 3 needed. 




She went in with a great attitude  and they let me stay in the room with her but she could not see me. Apparently during the practice she could see the researcher the whole time and she talked to her quite a bit.. Because she couldn't see me she got sad and then anxious and then panicky.. 



The first scan completed but was a bit blurry.. She was crying :-( she came out of the MRI and I tried to calm her down, give her a hug and told her I would stay holding her foot and sing to her. She said she was ready to try again but never really calmed down enough to stay still... So the second scan didn't come out.. We decided we could come back and try a sleep scan later in the summer.. 



I was disappointed because she had done so well yesterday and she was sad she didn't finish but told me she couldn't help feeling sad and alone.. I wish I had known it's possible it could have gone differently.. Really I wish I didn't listen to the researcher and trust "how good" she did in practice.. I was complacent and didn't make all the extra efforts I may have to ensure her comfort.. And help prevent her nervousness..



But it is what it is and we will try again.. She was sad she didn't get a picture of her brain to take home but the researcher said she would email me one.





Earlier today we were successful in completing the NIRS 



"The primary application of NIRS to the human body uses the fact that the transmission and absorption of NIR light in human body tissues contains information about hemoglobin concentration changes. When a specific area of the brain is activated, the localized blood volume in that area changes quickly. Optical imaging can measure the location and activity of specific regions of the brain by continuously monitoring blood hemoglobin levels through the determination of optical absorption coefficients..... 



NIRS can be used for non-invasive assessment of brain function through the intact skull in human subjects by detecting changes in blood hemoglobin concentrations associated with neural activity, e.g., in branches of cognitive psychology as a partial replacement for fMRI techniques.[7] NIRS can be used on infants, and NIRS is much more portable than fMRI machines, even wireless instrumentation is available, which enables investigations in freely moving subjects.[8][9] 



However, NIRS cannot fully replace fMRI because it can only be used to scan cortical tissue, where fMRI can be used to measure activation throughout the brain. Special public domain statistical toolboxes for analysis of stand alone and combined NIRS/MRI measurement have been developed"

https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Near-infrared_spectroscopy


After set up I was not allowed to stay for the assessment, when I asked Holly what they did she said she looked at pictures of people and faces and some were upside down and some were of statues..


While I've wanted to connect with research at Stanford for a while and in theory it is closer I think so far I far prefer UC Davis Mind Institute were we've done all our previous studies.  They have rooms with two way mirrors so I can watch and/or be included in all assessments and they have a really nice waiting and play area.. And though it's more miles the two days we just participated in racked up 185 miles and with all the traffic is was as long if not longer to commute.. Also in the study in particular because they are working with UNC on this study they had to use an off site MRI machine that was at El Camino Hospitol in Mountain View (has to be the same model/type and stanfords are different) though it was supposedly only 6 miles south it took us 40 minutes to drive there and added 30 minutes to our drive home... That's peninsula traffic for you.. Though we took 280 up to SF and it was beautiful and foggy..

Anyway I've been fighting allergies and a possible cold this week too and we are now all officially worn out!!


Friday, March 25, 2016

Nature Imprinted Easter Eggs

OMG I am so in love with my Easter Eggs! I can't wait to show Holly in the morning! 



Inspired by a Facebook video I saw earlier this week I decided to do nature imprint eggs.. Lyra and I headed to Berkeley Bowl to grab some beets, (which I freeze and use for smoothies and decided to use instead of the cabbage or onion skin in the video) 



then we went to walgreens to get some hose... Finally we picked up Holly and Oliver from School.. 

We were early and Holly was in the garden so Lyra and I decided to find some leaves and flowers lying around in the garden to collect for our imprints.  When we came home Oliver and Holly got a few more plants from the back yard.


It was pretty fast and easy to set up.. Just put the stocking over your hand, choose the plant you want to use and then pull the stocking down to cover the egg and hold the plant in place.. Tie a tight knot.





Before you know it -it was like an assembly line with the kids taking turns.. This part went really fast..  We stopped for a strawberry break and decided to use the stem!


The kids had a lot of fun and holly decided to make arm bands with the left over toe cut stockings...







Then it was time to clean up the mess, chop up the beets and set everything in the pot to bowl...





As instructed by Joel (on how to both cook beets and boil an egg..) I let the water come to a bowl and after about a minute turned it off and let everything sit and soak and cool and soak...

It was at least 45 minutes when Oliver's dad arrived... The eggs were cooked and Oliver wanted to bring home the favorites he made but almost no color seeped in by then... 

So I let them sit and waited and waited and waited at 9:00 when they were just barely tinged with a pale pink I added a splash of vinegar a few drops of food coloring to the pot.. And waited some more... until 11:30 pm and voila!



Then it was the long messy process of cutting of the hose and washing off the plants... I think they are gorgeous!  It was cool how there was a tie dyed like spot where the know was..




And this one I think color transferred from the plant as it was some type of bright pink leaves..



There were from the strawberries...


We even used some cilantro that we got Joel for dinner..






This was one of my favorites.. I had thought the plant got crushed in my pocket but I blew on it in Holly's hand and all the little fine leaves spread out to make this miniature tree.



The larger greener leaves seemed to work best.



This one was cool.. It was another pink flower and I think some of the color must have transferred.. It's very subtle but pretty..





This was white flowers and the stem part worked but the dye went right through the fragile white leaves..


Another of my favorite a leaf pulled right from the bunny rabbit out front.. 


Another favorite looks like some type of sea creature.. This if from the bright orange flower.. One Lyra got in the garden..


Two of the eggs cracked.. But I thought this was still pretty like a crescent moon..


And there you have it!


My sister and I are taking the girls to the beach and then Disneyland starting this Saturday for spring break.. Since we will be traveling on Easter I was almost going to just skip all the holiday rituals.. But I just couldn't help myself and there you have it a dozen plus pink hard boiled eggs so snack on while on the road and to leave with Joel so he doesn't miss us too much!!

Happy Easter!