a year in the life of a lifelong learner

i have been delinquent on posting ~a month of unschool~ for so many months now, that it is time for an update on a whole year! i gave up on the idea of back-dating the posts and decided to do one giant long post of the whole year in the life of one lifelong learner. which also feels like a more fitting title for where we are in life at the moment. i am not threatening to make these posts become an annual thing, i’d rather go back to monthly, now that we’re caught up… so go run to the bathroom and fetch yourself your beverage of choice before you read on, this one is going to take you a few minutes! and as always, thanks for reading. xoxo

june 24- july 23, 2014

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~ ols summer program ~ pinata making ~ new owner of a library card ~ game making ~ logic game playing ~ book sewing ~

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~big creek park hiking ~ water quality testing ~

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~ snake witnessing ~

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~ oregon country fair ~ pokemon toting ~ totem ogling ~ beauty absorbing ~ fun having ~

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~ snail experiment to test intertidal snails’ tendency to move towards red and away from blue, hence towards “shallow” based on the attenuation of light at depth ~

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~ tidepooling ~

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~ scientific method! a good experiment is repeatable! repeating the snail experiment with a different batch of intertidal snails, different species from a different beach, but same experimental design ~

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~ experimenting with wind energy and how blade configuration affects windmill efficiency ~

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~ blueberry picking ~ livestock visiting ~

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~ earth dough volcano making ~

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 ~ more snails, this time freshwater snails whose parasites are pretty fun to watch under a microscope ~

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~ marine science center fun ~

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~ returning the snails to their river home ~

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~ reading ~ playing ~ eating ~ yoga-ing ~

 july 24-august 23, 2014

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~ pancake-ing ~

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~ marine discovery touring ~

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~ developing a farmer’s market booth (a biweekly tradition observed at ols for practice with currency and entrpreneurship) around trading cards ~

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~ camping with family. i love the magical glowing dust motes suggestive of fireflies, and the purposeful walk of the kids ~

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~ comic reading, pasta slurping, river romping, adventure plotting ~

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~ joy bubbling up at the river’s edge ~

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~ tent dwelling, water meditating, karate dancing, tire swinging ~

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~ big creek park adventuring ~

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~ library summer program fun, including dragon puppet theatre’s 2014 feature “it’s electric!” ~

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~ selling his very own homemade pokemon cards at farmer’s market, using magnatiles to display his wares and organize his cash~

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~ noodling, sparkling, sprinkling, camping, and generally having fun at squirrel fest ~

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~ tie dying ~ peaceful kids power teaming ~

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~ eating, tracking down carmen sandiego, breaking into dance moves ~

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~ perhaps foreshadowing his future karate self, or maybe air drumming ~

august 24- september 23, 2014

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~first day of schooling ~

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~ setting up a rock museum ~

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~ best friending ~

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~ learning through games ~

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~ learning through engineering ~

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~ learning through time for reflection ~

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~ ceramics magic ~

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~ biking ~

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~ slicing up a fresh batch of pokemon cards to sell ~ reading aloud to younger students ~ figure drawing ~ math gaming ~

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~ 3 dimensional geometry using a variety of media ~

september 24 – october 23, 2014

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~ a study of optics prompted by a visit to ols by a local eye doctor ~

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~ pancaking ~

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~ airporting ~ flying ~ cousin reuniting!~

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~ happy times in new york ~

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~ helping grampy with the tractor ~

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~ noodle field hockey at the nature center ~

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~ observing lots of nature center beauty and life ~

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~ these photos were taken by quinn, as material he planned to use in creating pokemon stadium cards ~

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~ shelter building ~

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~ demolitioning grampy’s broken wagon ~

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~ lounging with grampy ~ mountain coastering with rich ~ perler beading with cousins ~ celebrating with grammy ~

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~ apple picking wagon riding ~

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~ play time with friends and cousins ~

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~ writing ~ practicing with the metric system ~ more work on the eye and optics ~

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~ hiking and exploring cape perpetua ~

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~ experimenting with color mixing ~ contributing to group art piece gratitude poster made from finger prints ~

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~ reading the raven and other books about northwest native american culture ~ creating art in preparation for dia de los muertos ~ visiting a local tribal cultural center ~

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~ learning firsthand what it means to be a seal or a sea lion, during a pinniped lesson ~

october 24- november 23, 2014

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~ taking lots of walks down our gravel road, often wielding a staff like donatello ~

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~ baking pan (bread) for dia de los muertos ~ learning all about the day of the dead traditions and participating in a celebration  of it ~

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~ writing stories ~ drawing zombies ~

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~ making maps of haunted mansions ~ coming up with the idea for his halloween costume from a pokemon card ~

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~ making a group totem pole, including his own totem animal, the owl ~

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~ delving into dungeons and dragons (seriously academic stuff, folks. lots of great math, storytelling, mapping, creativity!) ~

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~ listening to his dad play banjo and guitar at ols ~

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~ celebrating birthdays ~

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~ studying animal classification ~ solidifying concepts about the 5 groups of vertebrates (mammals, birds, reptiles, amphibians and fish) and also being introduced to kingdom-phylum-class-order-family-genus-species ~ playing a scattergories-esque game where you have to name a mammal, bird, reptile, amphibian, and fish all starting with the letter chosen (this got all the kids opening up reference books, and i quickly abandoned any time-limits in favor of letting them dive deeper to find more obscure animal names) ~

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~ making gratitude trees ~ making games ~ making adventures ~

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~ learning about the process of taking wool from sheep to sweater ~ more figure drawing, this time from life ~ reading my old book the little lamb ~

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~ taking care of dogs and guinea pigs ~ breakfast with a guinea pig snuggled in your blanket is a great way to start the day ~

november 24 – december 23,  2014

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~ making applesauce (which them became fruit leather) using simple machines  (apple peeler-corer-slicer and food-mill) ~

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~ making pumpkin pie ~ simple machine grinder to crush the ginger cookies for the pie crust ~

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~ rolling with the simple machines theme ~ building a rope-making machine from scratch ~ making rope ~

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~ sculpting storyteller dolls ~

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~ coming up with new pokemon card designs to sell ~ making a set of cards and a special elven rope (very thin, exceptionally strong) using the ols rope making machine, for his dad’s birthday present ~

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~ clearing limbs off the road after a storm ~ drawing by flashlight in power outage ~

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~ taking care of ruby tuesday ~ listening to stories ~ reading stories ~

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~ planting a new tree for the local public library ~

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~ celebrating friends’ birthdays. i love his birthday song face ~

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~ 3d geometry ceramics project in final form ~

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~ caroling at ols, this year’s favorite song was “do you hear what i hear?” ~ decorating our tree ~ making gingerbread houses with friends ~

december 24, 2014 – january 23, 2015

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~ celebrating with family ~

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~ exploring the arctic ~

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~ indulging mama’s photography practice by posing in front of christmas tree lights ~

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~ for a while ~

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~ super patiently ~

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~ worked on a new report topic (started out with dragons but ended up focusing on oregon trail) ~ studied perspective through painting ~ learned how to rock a kilt thanks to an awesome homemade gift ~ visited whale bones ~

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~ movie magic, discovering stop-motion film making ~

~ around this time, quinn made a few quotable statements:

“learning would be so much easier without teachers”

“when ava sat down it looked like a white lily pad!”

noted here so that once the sticky note i jotted them down on gets washed in my jeans pocket only to end up stuck in the lint trap and lost forever, they are somewhere

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~ began a month-long pioneers and oregon trail unit ~ making corn husk dolls ~ keeping an oregon trail journal from perspective of a pioneer, including a budget for the supplies they would need for their journey on the oregon trail ~

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~ acting out pioneer life in a wagon built from fort magic (what a great learning tool! we used it in many applications throughout the year) ~

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~ presenting his research on life on the oregon trail, specializing in the life of pioneer children ~

january 24- february 23, 2015

~ pioneers continued ~

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~ slates ~ rules and rulers ~  pioneer lunch (ham, biscuits, jam, cheese, pickles, dried apples, wrapped in cloth or stored in glass jars) ~ nail, ear, neck inspection ~

~ baking biscuits, shaking butter, building a salt dough map of the united states featuring the oregon trail ~

~ building an oregon trail diorama, calculating the number of times a wagon wheel turned depending on how many miles it drove ~

~ celebrated a grand finale *pioneer day* featuring washboards for washing doll clothes, candle making, soap pouring, lunch packed in baskets with no plastic baggies or tupperwares or individually wrapped snacks, and 3-legged races ~

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~ research presentation on scorpions ~

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~ egg drop engineering ~ spill-and-spell and handwriting practice ~

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~ beginning a salmon science unit ~ provided a home for some salmon eggs in a tank on our ols science counter ~ ate snack made with graham crackers, peanut butter, chocolate rocks and blueberries, that looked suspiciously like our tank bottom ~ played return to the redd board game (so much good curriculum on salmon science is available online, the problem was not thinking up curriculum but sifting through all the great stuff already out there!) ~ group art project and puzzle making a large salmon poster from individual coloring sheets ~

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~ found our way home using our noses (each stream had its own characteristic essential oil fragrance in a packet clothes-pinned to each fork in the stream; i made the stream finger-knitting while kids were giving their research presentations  ~ watched eggs hatch out alevins ~

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 ~ science counter with tank full of eggs, and finished poster ~ we also sculpted and embossed fish in art class, but i didn’t have good pictures to show ~

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~ turning 8 at school ~

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~ turning 8 on his actual birthday ~

february 24 – march 23, 2015

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~ large floor diagram of internal salmon anatomy ~ adding the heart ~ all parts taped on and labeled ~

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~ dissection of an adult salmon (provided by fish and wildlife, who had some leftover from a trap survey ~ thousands of eggs! this was a female, and we got to see a male, too ~ one egg ~ the lens removed from the eye ~ (note: a dissection is actually not quinn’s idea of a good time, and he opted to do the virtual dissection and not attend this dissection; i still wanted to record it here, to remember what i taught in science class!)

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~ celebrating turning 8 one more time for good measure! dragon party at the dragon house ~ featuring reading of treasure hunt clues and science experimenting with lava lamps, amid all the cupcakes and fun ~

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~ pancaking ~

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~ climbing ~

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~ fraternizing with eagles ~

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~ unstructured time playing pokemon in costume in fort magic ~ watercolor and marker on wood veneer ~ reading great books, such as buffalo woman, to himself ~ organizing his pokemon cards in a binder, with a cover he designed and decorated ~

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~ sand therapy ~

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~ game making lab and library (including all the game pieces you might need for creating your own game- fake money, dice, spinners, timers, mover pieces, letter tiles, and more); students developed their idea for a game, tested it by having other students play it, and then were given a blank game board (thrifted and covered with white paper) and a sharpie to make it a real game ~

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~ fry growing rapidly in science counter tank ~ returning carcasses of dissected fish to the stream ~

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~ group project: stop-motion animation of the entire life cycle of a salmon ~ man in black currently operating the camera is quinn ~

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~ setting up insect prey and making salmon eat them ~

~ the finished film ~

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~ returning a week later with our ready-to-release fry, we observed the way the ecosystem was utilizing the salmon carcasses; all but one had been “utilized” completely, and this one remained, covered in snails ~ each student got to release individual fry, carefully netting it and setting it free in the stream, along with a “wish for a fish” for health and survival prospects ~ a fun frog was found on release day as well ~

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~ some of the kids named their fish; quinn released swimmy and sammy ~

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~ the free fry, swimming in the stream ~

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~ his own stop motion studio at home, this time with his birthday lego set of mos eisley cantina ~

 

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 ~ fully absorbed in the wings of fire series about dragons, by tui sutherland ~ pinewood derby fun ~

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~ started karate!!! ~

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~ what he looked like in the evening after the first few karate practices ~

march 24- april 23, 2015

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~ room makeover ~

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~ creating a board game for a best friend birthday present ~ decorating eggs ~

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~ diving wholeheartedly into his new passion ~

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~ celebrating a friend ~

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~ experiencing a watershed model ~

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~ exploring book covers as a material for art making ~ contributing to a group art exhibit at the local public library ~

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~ pancaking is always so much fun ~

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~ dabbling in photography, quinn has recently had very urgent needs to use my camera, and these two are some of his shots ~

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~ drumming on a drum set ~ i see more drums in our future ~

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~ karate game called “whack the students” for practicing basic blocking set ~ quinn got to go first and not knowing what to expect, the whole group ended up laughing together as he dissolved in giggles ~

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~ did you see me? ~

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~ brief flashback to another day, another daisy ~

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~ earth day writing assignment, inspired by an out-of-print book i came across at omsi years ago, and then bought a copy of, called while a tree was growing ~ quinn’s story from the perspective of the tree he chose to write about ~

april 24- may 23, 2015

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~ alternative energy experiments with solar panels and windmills ~

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~ an earth-day board game ~ experimenting with wind energy, using it to perform work, such as hauling “kids” (washers) up in an “elevator” (cup) which was great fun ~

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~ making their own laptops and ipads, on paper ~

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~ sucked into the diary of a wimpy kid vortex ~

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~ earned his red tip, and qualified to test for a yellow belt ~

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~ yellow belt test success! ~

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~ guinea pig research presentation ~

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~ practicing coordinate plane with “find the spy” game ~ making a special egg quilt square for teacher k ~ becoming a wizard with a handmade blue-agate topped staff ~

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~ visiting tall ships with class and learning about shipping trade and the life of a sailor ~ visiting tall ships with mama and learning about capstans, windlasses, tillers and lines ~

may 24 – june 23, 2015

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~ horsing around ~

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~ creating our own comic strips ~ singing spanish songs ~ fishing and canoeing ~ reading a ton!~

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~ going on “dates” with mama to the food co-op for treats and quiet time after school and before karate and devouring calvin and hobbes ~

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~ yellow belting ~

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~ learning about babies ~ grating the purple cabbage of science, and using purple cabbage acid/base indicator to test our water supply ph (it’s all good, we don’t have a lot of trouble with acid rain here) ~

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~ practicing archery (here only in gesture, but for real at his dad’s house) ~

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~ tidepooling and adventuring with friends ~

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~ learning the yellow belt curriculum ~

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~ sparring ~

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~ graduating! the ols kids had a last day of school outing to one of our state parks, and had a wonderful, heartfelt graduation ceremony, involving stuffed bears with graduation caps, tassels with meaningful symbolic charms attached, and diplomas, in addition to some wonderful words spoken by teacher k about her hopes for the kids as they leave ols ~

(condensed and excerpted here, so he can look back on it and remember!)

“Always do unto others as you would have them do unto you. Remember that we are one. Anything you do for another, you do for yourself. And anything you do for yourself, you do for another.

Obey all laws so long as they’re just. Check to see if a rule or law is fair. Ask questions. If you find that a law is fair, then abide by it. If it creates injustice for another person or being or a group of beings, then don’t.

Love, Love, Love, Love. Keep your heart open and your mind sharp. Remember that the best way to conquer an enemy is to become their friend.

Finally, never accept the status quo. If everyone around you says it can’t be done, then ask them to kindly step aside so that you can get it done. If you want to see more love in the world, then be the love.

Remember that each of your lives is essential to our world. Be who you are. Love who you are. Like the many instruments in a symphony, we each play a part. Play yours with all your heart!”

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~ seeing the world through rainbow colored glasses ~ here he is looking at his tassel, with its golden key to the world, and musical instrument charm (his was a saxophone) ~

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~ earning his first black tip on his yellow belt ~

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~ first lesson with nunchaka (“chucks”) which quinn thoroughly enjoyed ~

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 ~ and onward we go, embracing whatever comes around the next bend or over the next bridge,  learning all the time! ~

other posts you may enjoy:

one unbroken line

“first you go under

then coming up gives you the bends

and when you break the surface

all you can see is your friends

so you grab your purple crayon

and flesh out the picture behind

and finally the whole world is made of

one unbroken line

one unbroken line”

-ani difranco red letter year

 

i went under about 10 years ago this coming fall. i have alluded to that period of time in my life before, but i don’t think i have come right out and said what happened to me. it’s not a time i like to dwell on, but throughout my healing process, i have had a growing realization of how important that time was, and how important it is to my integrity for me to own it, to include it as part of my ongoing personal narrative, to acknowledge that it got that bad, to remember why i committed to never again sacrificing my integrity for anyone else. part of why i blog is to help me curate my personal narrative, to keep track of myself in an ongoing unbroken line that is my story, my understanding of who i am. at first it was a research endeavor, an archaeology dig back into my journals and emails to figure out how the pieces all fit, and i will admit to actually entering key life events into a spreadsheet that i could perform data sorts upon. (card carrying nerd. you can laugh. i do.) now the ongoing note-taking it has evolved into is essentially a maintenance strategy to keep my story intact and refuse to let it fragment as it once did.

in 2005, i was so broken down by emotional abuse that i was starting to dissociate from myself. you have to leave yourself briefly when you lash out in ways that aren’t true to who you are. i was awful to friends, because i was forced to prove my loyalty to my relationship by adopting someone else’s opinions and inflicting them on people who had been good to me. i became increasingly isolated and debilitated, and had trouble with basic tasks, to say nothing of the way i was floundering in my master’s degree program. i started to lash out at the abuser, becoming abusive myself out of sheer desperation. i blocked out seemingly unforgettable moments, such as him lighting my mattress on fire while i was lying on it, and only retrieved those memories years later from journal entries i had shared with no one. he cut phone cords while i talked to the very few remnants of support i had left, he cut my houseplants. my daily experience had so eroded away at me that i began to scratch and kick, and even brandish knives back at the other participant in the suffering.

unable to bear myself anymore, i pondered dying, i wished to die, i craved a way out as concise as death. i wanted it to be all over. i contemplated whether i could pull it off. i despaired that i might not be able to. i was tortured by sleep deprivation and the emotional abuse hit new plateaus of awfulness. i couldn’t bear who i had become, what was “happening to me” (because i did not believe or perceive at the time that i bore any responsibility for the circumstances i was in, nor that i had any choice in exiting the scenario) until one day i walked out the door with a bottle of pills in my hand.

he called the police. they drove up to me and asked if i was carrying pills. i said yes. they asked if i planned to use them and i said i didn’t know.

my answers did not inspire enough confidence in them to let me keep walking, so they put handcuffs on me and drove me to the county mental health inpatient facility.

i spent the night in a chair in the intake area at the county facility. as soon as i was there i was begging to leave. not a pretty place. out of the frying pan and into the fire.

i was transferred to where the other overwhelmed grad students go to have inpatient mental health care, and 48 hours after i was cuffed and stuffed, i was home sweet home. but a home in which i couldn’t rest my weary bones. a home in which i lived in constant survival mode. a home in which i found myself longing for home.

i had committed to a treatment plan in order to be discharged. i had committed to weekly counseling. i think my 48 hours as an inpatient shook me awake.

i followed through on the plan. my counselor was great. she helped me make a self care plan. she listened to me say “he… he… he….” then reminded me, “think about youuuuuu!!!” she got me into a psychiatrist who wrote me a prescription that really helped me balance out my chemistry. she encouraged me to go to al-anon meetings. i went faithfully. i went from one yoga class per week to four or five. i was planting seeds in pots, making cups of tea, eating fresh fruits and veggies, taking baths, remembering other little things i had forgotten i liked to do for myself, and little by little, those self care actions turned into actually caring about myself again. new neural pathways opened up, and i followed them more and more. i moved out of the apartment.

over time, i realized those police officers and inpatient personnel did not do anything to me, though at the time i felt very wronged. over time, i realized that i had been unable to recognize my actions as a loud and clear call for help, and i was fortunate my call was heard and responded to by people just doing their jobs.

as time passed, i learned a lot about what was going on in my brain at the time. speaking scientifically, there were neural pathways i was over-utilizing and they held me in a downward spiral. speaking spiritually, i learned how impoverished i had allowed my soul to become. i have read books like trauma and recovery, by judith herman, which helped me to understand the mechanisms by which trauma triggers a brain to fragment, and how fragmentation is essential, at first, to survival in the face of real threat, but also allows distortion to become the chief way a traumatized individual handles information, even in situations where one is not threatened. i learned how it was possible to overcome this non-adaptive strategy (non-adaptive once one has emerged from survival mode), and i learned why i wanted to: distortion is lying, to oneself, and to others, whereas i had always thought of myself as an honest person. i slowly came to be able to articulate that by committing to “never going back there” i meant “to always maintain my integrity.” i read books like the four agreements, and lots of others, that helped me put my finger on what integrity even meant to me. be impeccable with your word; don’t take anything personally; don’t make assumptions; always do your best.

omitting definitions related to calculus and desegregation, here is how webster defines integrity:

integrity 1. the quality or state of being complete; unbroken condition; wholeness; entirety 2. the quality or state of being unimpaired; perfect condition; soundness 3. the quality or state of being of sound moral principle; uprightness, honesty, and sincerity.

integrate 1. to make whole or complete by adding or bringing together parts 2. to put or bring (parts) together into a whole; unify 3. to give or indicate the whole, sum, or total of 6. Psychol. to cause to undergo integration; to become integrated.

integration 1. an integrating or being integrated 3. Psychol. the organization of various traits, feelings, attitudes, etc., into one harmonious personality.

as i delved into my research on myself, i strove to leave no stone unturned. i found that judging my choices and being hard on myself didn’t help. it turned out, i needed to be gentle with myself. when i was able to extend myself some compassion, i had an easier time remaining present, instead of dissociating any time the going got tough. yet, i found that i needed to know what had happened, so there could be no further denial. just the facts, without judgment. i waded through old journals and emails, and inserted the fragments of my life story into their places, until the thread was once again whole and continuous, integrated. integrated, integrity.

i let go of the relationship that kept me poised having to choose between it and my integrity. more ani: “i looked up to see integrity finally won over desire.” this did not happen overnight, oh no. domestic abuse, to paraphrase something a friend recently said, is so ongoing you start to not notice your new normal is so bad. it takes time to undo all of that and make a new good normal for yourself. i kept showing up for myself, stayed honest with myself, got more counseling even after several moves and having a baby had made life more complicated. i chose interpretations of my circumstances that felt empowering, that celebrated my strength and resilience in the face of adversity, over interpretations that dwelled on negatives or encouraged self-pity.

there was retaliation in the aftermath. it didn’t go along with someone else’e plan that i was getting so healthy. the aftermath subsided. my integrity held.

year eleven came along, and all the “beyond your wildest dreams” stuff they used to talk about at al-anon? turns out it’s really real.

now i have a man who validates and supports my whole being and loves all of me, containing my feelings by refusing to allow my self-loathing neural pathways to open back up. this is truer to the core of how i see myself (a person of integrity) than any desire to have my self-loathing “validated” in the ways an abusive partner would “validate” it, by encouraging that self-loathing and feeding that monster.

“darling, you will not find

in the well into which you fall

what i keep for you on the heights:

a bouquet of dewy jasmines,

a kiss deeper than your abyss.”

-pablo neruda, except from his poem the well, from the captain’s verses

new lessons have come my way. new opportunities to use what i have learned, or to try to share my experience with friends whose circumstances remind me of mine 10 years ago when i was hospitalized, or 9 years ago when i gave it one more try “for the baby”, or 8 years ago when i was hiding the atm card underneath said sleeping baby to try to keep some money in the account for bills instead of just beer, or 7 years ago when i got hit and walked out with my one year old, or a little over 3 years ago, when i stopped paying my ex’s rent, or whenever ago. i have new appreciation for what i struggled through, because it gives me street cred with people who might otherwise have no use for my suggestions. because it’s true, if you haven’t been through it, it is probably impossible to understand why someone would (and probably will, for a long time) stay. my past connects me not only to myself, to who i was, who i am, and how i got from point a to point b, but also connects me to others in a web that just continues to enhance my life as it expands outward.

new opportunities where i have to choose how to best maintain my integrity come along. i have less and less trouble identifying how it all fits into the one unbroken line of my narrative. i see more and more signs that say “yes” to me, that reinforce the positive choices i make, that affirm life and love and abundance. i recognize them sooner, sometimes even in the moment when i am looking at them, like the morning when an eagle flew along beside our car for about a quarter of a mile, in one unbroken line, as we drove into town. i have more and more success following my intuition, which is better and better calibrated to keeping my path unbroken, unfragmented, connected, intact, whole.

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other posts you may enjoy:

~rainbow mondays~

 

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i caught a fading rainbow hovering over the road leading to our home of the past several years. thought it seemed a bit poetic!

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red: hummingbirds have re-emerged after their hatching phase (we don’t see them for a few weeks in spring at the feeders. they adore this tree with red baubles.

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red-pink-yellow: had a fleeting chance to capture this beauty on camera.

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red-orange: sea urchins! another fine tidepooling adventure was had on saturday, perfect conditions, it was every bit the medicine for the soul i needed.

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orange: a survivor! they’re not all gone.

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yellow: golden-chain tree and rhodies.

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yellow: yellow belt action!

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green: coastal beauty

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green: mower tractor parked in the line of rainbow view at the end of the road.

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blue: harbor seals taking a break from it all

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purple: experimenting with acid/base indicators using the “purple cabbage of science!”

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purple: the last straggler rhodie to bloom, one of my favorites!

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purple: a week of extra purple entries, including my very favorite color purple: the color of sea urchins, is a good week!

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brown: a good place to hide.

 

~rainbow mondays~

a splash of color on monday morning

a photo study documenting the colors of the spectrum: the balance points between light reflected and light absorbed

other posts you may enjoy:

~this moment~

0604151602this moment date

~a friday ritual~

a photo capturing a moment from the week.

a simple, special moment.

a moment i want to pause, savor and remember

other posts you may enjoy:

simple poems

it’s been a long time since i posted some of these…

mama, you’re wearing your hair in a bun! it looks like a cimmanon bun, and i want to eat it!

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i was talking to my bff and quinn was wanting to interrupt, but then he snuggled in with me under a throw blanket. he then proceeded to gestate as a dinosaur egg, and after letting me finish talking, he began narrating the story while we listened to him. he was a triceratops egg, which at one point in the story was stolen by some pteranodons. dinosaur eggs, incidentally, are quovals; that is their shape. they are a lot like ovals, except an oval is just flat, so they are 3-dimensional ovals, or quovals. i asked why the pteranodons didn’t just eat something else instead of brand new triceratops hatchlings, but quinn said that unfortunately in their part of the rain forest, the only other available prey are monkeys, and pteranodons do not prefer to eat monkeys because of the furballs that develop in their stomachs after they eat them.

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quinn asked me about whether uncle b and uncle t (my brothers) were born before me or after me, and i told him that i am a girl sandwich, with one of each. he laughed and said, “and you’re the cheese, mama!” then he thought a little more, and said it would be even more awesome if “pan” was masculine and “queso” was feminine! (guess what he’s been learning in spanish class!)

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while eating pirate booty snacks: “look, this pirate booty is an ammonite!”

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can you put music on? my body is dying to dance.

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giving guinea pig presentation

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magically filling my car with 600 guinea pigs with his wizard staff

bonus simple poem on a found scrap of paper i apparently never posted….

“it feels good to me in here! i feel like i might explode with excitement, like i’m inside a box that’s full of pomegranates! with two mice!” quinn upon entering the dragon house the very first time, 1-7-12

here’s hoping the new dragon house has the same effect on him!

other posts you may enjoy:

back on the horse

now that jury duty is out of the way, and i only have my 2.5 jobs and house buying to keep me busy, i am getting back on the horse of blogging. actually, i will be down to just 1.5 jobs shortly, as soon as school is out for the summer. then i will just be tending fish in the fish disease lab on weekdays and peddling veggies every other saturday. and… our offer was accepted on the house! so we are well on our way to being home owners!

it was fun to shove aside all the mail and dishes on the table and sit down and sign and initial a whole bunch of pieces of paper next to my future house co-owner. i sure love him. i loved it when he told me so many months ago that he wanted my name next to his on the deed. i loved it when he told me, mere days before our hope of buying the house we live in fell through, that maybe it is for the best that we embark on a new adventure together (and buy a different house that we choose as a couple). i love his whole approach to this whole process, and look forward to making our new home our new home together.

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i secretly get distracted by the left hand side of this picture and a pair of arms i like to have around me.

so, we will be moving soon. it has been a big transition to wrap our heads around, but we have found a great house in a great location, that just seems to fit us perfectly. i waited until the offer was in and looked like it would be accepted before i drove by the place with quinn and told him of our upcoming move. i asked him his thoughts and feelings. they were mixed:

  1. i don’t really want to leave the dragon house
  2. i really like exploring new places and it looks like that house has lots of good things to explore
  3. i’m not very good at adapting!

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(the dragons are coming with us.)

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he also likes that our local pseudo-family (including his best friend) live right nearby the new house, close enough for an 8 year old to walk! he asked if we would ever get to go back and visit the dragon house (our name for the house we live in now) and i said probably not, but that we’ll still go to sharlei’s a lot on weekends (rich’s mom who lives next door to dragon house), so we’ll still drive down our old road and she’d even let us put up tents in her yard and camp if we want to sometimes.

“well, i’m fine with moving then,” he decided.

~~~

on top of all the busyness, it is the merry month of may. my mom and i were reflecting on the month of may back when i was in school, and how there were mays when we ate outside of home for 26 out of 31 dinners. although we have eaten at home more than that, we have been running frantically to catch all of our friends’ and students’ dance recitals and baseball games.

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in our own world, quinn’s universe has been filled with many new and exciting adventures, most notably karate. he is now a yellow belt, his belt test is already receding into the past somehow, already more than two weeks ago now. his enthusiasm that night of his test was a sight to behold, and before the test it was hard to get him to stop bouncing up and down to take his picture in his final moments of having a white belt. after the yellow belt was on, he became very solemn, and only when his teachers started hamming it up in the group pictures did he crack a smile again.

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last week he went through a very brief period of doubt and thought maybe he wanted to quit karate. i have my theories about the way quinn’s self-esteem and anxiety cycle on an every-other-week basis, but those are theories, and it doesn’t change the reality that he does a different routine every other week of his life. all i can do is try my best to make up for it whenever i get my chances.

i brought him to karate as usual this tuesday, and he reluctantly got dressed. by the end of class, he was back on the karate horse.

then i went one step further and encouraged him to check out the sparring class that he is now allowed to attend, given his belt status. he had been saying things about it that just sounded like made up things to fear, and i wanted him to give it a chance before he ruled it out. on the premise we would just watch if he wanted to, we showed up thursday to sparring class. we brought the uniform “just in case”, and then his instructor caught the nervousness and told quinn it was best not to overthink it, but just jump in and try it out! (great advice, to not overthink things. i should really try that out sometime.)

so he jumped in and tried it out. every parent on the sidelines was smiling at his infectious laughter, which was non-stop for the duration of the class. he beamed, he giggled, he jumped up and down with glee. he saw his two instructors spar with each other for a split second, and the look of awe and amazement and joy on his face was priceless (it was very impressive, to be sure). he gazed at his reflection in the mirror wearing his protective head, hand and foot gear.

one of the things he has been so looking forward to, for when he joins the purple belts and up in the later class, is that they tend to have fewer kids in those classes, so they get to run laps around the mat for warm-ups, as opposed to doing warm-up exercises in place. since only 8 kids came to sparring that night, he got to run, and they did a fun warm-up game with different exercises in each corner, and you and your partner had to run to all four stations and perform the various moves. for the end of class game, they had to slow-motion spar with each other while the instructors went around and slow-motion chased them with big foam pads that they’d sandwich each student between (once you got sandwiched, you were out). quinn was laughing and jumping up and down watching the first kid get sandwiched, he just delighted in the whole process.

i thanked his teacher for encouraging him to “just do it” and also mentioned that i think for quinn, it helps for him to see the whole process, including sparring with an opponent, so that he understands the logic behind what moves he is learning in forms class. some kids are physically coordinated and grasp things first in their body, but i think quinn really takes it in cerebrally first, and then it frees up his physical side to do the moves. he’s the kid who says, “i think i should draw a map of the studio, so i can study where everything is.” that said, he told me, “i didn’t really have to think about it when i was sparring, all i had to do was say in my head what move i was doing.”

his assessment after class: “it was awesome.” he wants to go to karate every day of the week it is offered. “and if they start a friday class, i’ll go to that, too. then i’ll go to karate every day except saturday and sunday. it’ll be like i have a job!” he also said he is back on his way “to build true competence! it’s in the student creed!” i had quoted the “principles of black belt” to him when he told me he wanted to quit, and let him know i believed in his “indomitable spirit,” and it’s fun to hear him now quoting back to me the words he has memorized from speaking them aloud at each class.

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or ma’am, depending on the teacher leading class. i can’t wait until he slips up and starts yes ma’am-ing me at home.

i asked what he thought about having taken a chance on sparring and having had it turn out to be so much fun. he agreed, he had made up some impressions of what it would be like that didn’t turn out to be true. he finished my sentence about how sometimes your brain makes up what it thinks something will be like and “your brain just gets stuck on it!”

to his credit, at least his dad does take him fishing…

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~~~

a few other highlights… we visited the tall ships when they came to town. it’s fun to hear my son walk around and chat with the crew about how “my mom used to do this for a job.” he asked if we could go for a sail next time they come, so that is definitely going to be on the agenda for next may.

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we’ve also been discussing all about babies. yes, the birds and the bees! there’s a book you need if you have someone in the age 7 and up bracket called it’s so amazing. and if you have younger or older kids, there are books by the same folks for you, too. quinn has always loved babies and been fascinated by big questions of existence. we want all the kids of our living school to have accurate facts when they go swim in the bigger ponds of public school next year. before we began the unit at school, i bought quinn the book and we read it together. he hung on every word, and asked tons of questions. he loves to sit and leaf through. he points to the people in the pictures and says things like, “there’s me, there’s my mom, there’s my dad, there’s my grammy and there’s my grampy!” the book does a great job of portraying life’s ongoing changes as “perfectly normal” (the title of the book for age 10 and up) and yes, amazing.

my own mom is a super-prepared teacher mom who also had a book at the ready when these questions arose for me and my brothers around quinn’s age. and i just want to acknowledge that, because i think it is an area that many parents fumble through and i wanted to follow my mom’s wonderful example and handle it with lots of accurate information and the overarching attitude of “it’s wonderful to talk about this stuff, bring it on!”

i think the message got through to quinn, if his recent play is any indication. “the blanket is the uterus, and i’m the baby. it’s time to get me out, mama!”

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finally, quinn had the awesome treat to get to ride the lovely pony molly over memorial day weekend, and he surprised us all by being game to ride alone, and control the reins with no one holding a tether. he did such a great job, and had so much fun. he looks forward to getting back on the horse again a bunch more times this summer!

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other posts you may enjoy:

~rainbow mondays~

hello, tuesday! it’s time for another rainbow monday! you’ll have that when you are working 2.5 jobs, trying to buy a house, and let’s throw in jury duty just for fun! whee!

 

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i don’t know, something about driving by a full rainbow right over the ocean at lost creek this week inspired me to do a rainbow post…

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red: ornamental cherry leaves filling out and glowing in the sun

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orange: enjoyed a nice sunset walk with rich’s family a few weeks ago.

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orange: the rhododendrons look like something from outer space when they drop their petals.

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yellow: speaking of outer space… this is inside a blooming rhododendron, but doesn’t it remind you of the space mountain roller coaster at disney world?

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green: glowing huckleberry leaves.

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gratuitous pancake sunset photo

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blue: backyard dragon

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blue: playhouse door hinges

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blue: sort of a caribbean blue, i painted the upstairs hallway, called it “my room”, and used drawers from an old broken dresser to make some shelves. there were three, so i turned the leftover one into a generic habitat backdrop for quinn’s stop-motion animation endeavors. on the left side, you can see quinn’s “finished” bedroom with lots of sunlight flooding in.

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purple: date stamp april 17th. feels like unprecedented bloom time for an iris. is it just me?

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purple? magenta? oh i know, red violet: this pretty orchid was a birthday present from my sister, and it now sits on the ledge of my bathtub where i remember to water it once a week and it gets eastern sun exposure. not to mention, i can gaze upon its beauty as part of my self care regimen.

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“mama i love you” love note on my window from my sweet boy. happy belated mother’s day to all you wonderful mamas! especially mine, i love you, mom!

 

~rainbow mondays~

a splash of color on monday morning

a photo study documenting the colors of the spectrum: the balance points between light reflected and light absorbed

other posts you may enjoy:

~rainbow mondays~

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unintentional self portrait of a karate mama.

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red: rhododendrons are in full bloom, and our earliest one is this red.

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orange: the look on his face when he is practicing karate is magical.

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yellow: “look lovely…..” starting to fade out, but a few daffodil relatives hanging on.

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green: abstract trees (i used the heart bokeh on the backyard pictures this week).

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blue: the instructors wear blue uniforms at karate. here quinn is receiving his white belt.

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purple: more backyard sunshine fun.

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white: this could be an honorary blue picture, the blueberries have lots of blossoms this year!

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white: the smiling karate kid in action!

 

~rainbow mondays~

a splash of color on monday morning

a photo study documenting the colors of the spectrum: the balance points between light reflected and light absorbed

other posts you may enjoy:

~rainbow mondays~

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it’s time for another rainbow monday observed on tuesday! this time it’s all about egg dyeing and room painting, lots of colorful fun over spring break! in spite of our house-buying negotiations still being up in the air, i decided to practice defiant optimism and apply law of attraction principles by diving into a home improvement project i have been itching to do for a while.

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red: the new lego nook following quinn’s bedroom makeover. i did some thrifting (soft rug, baskets) and dollar store shopping (veggie trays) to help quinn keep his lego collection manageable.

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orange: dragon costume at the ready, beside the lego nook. behind the chimney is a nice place for tucking lego storage bins.

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green: the “before” picture. ceiling was partly green, with two walls of brown paneling. blech. quinn wanted the color to be “the same” which was a delight, although i made the ceiling all white and changed the paneling to the “marsh green” that was the closest i could find to the color rich’s daughter had painted the room back in middle school. :)

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green: “after” showing how perfectly the color matches quinn’s grammy quilt.

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green: “after” view of his whole bed (still being put back together, but gives the idea of what it all looks like. the paper lanterns are new, from the clearance shelf at fred meyer, with 10% additional markdown on home furnishings this week – score!

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green: thrifted shelf for displaying some of quinn’s favorite treasures.

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another knickknack shelf, an old spice rack i was not making effective use of in the kitchen. bad quality picture, but a fun idea for wookie storage.

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blue: his happy reaction upon his return from dad’s house. “can we keep it just like this?!”

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blue: helping paint the old chairs a nice bright blue with a $2 can of paint from the habitat for humanity re-store.

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blue: good things come to those who wait, and my kiddo has always had that quality. “making haste, it ain’t my cup of meat” says mighty quinn the eskimo, who achieved the bluest navy blue egg of all.

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purple: this is the egg he dyed for me, my favorite color of course!

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purple and friends: also scored on sale and with additional 10% off, i splurged part of my tax return on a new rug for the room. rich’s assessment: ” it’s busy” ha. quinn heartily approved of my choice, and i know paint and markers will certainly not stain this bad boy.

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rainbow art supplies! a place for everything- more dollar store bins, re-purposed toddler tool boxes, and sundries. may your week be as satisfying as a rainbow-sorted box of crayons, or a navy blue easter egg!!!

 

~rainbow mondays~

a splash of color on monday morning

a photo study documenting the colors of the spectrum: the balance points between light reflected and light absorbed

other posts you may enjoy:

~rainbow mondays~

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red: this character covered most of the spectrum this week! he drew me outside yesterday by flashing me the brilliant golden yellow, i hadn’t received that particular treat of the sunlight yet. i wonder if it is some combination of equinox sun angles and trees covered in pink blossoms in the background producing this effect.

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orange

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yellow

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and even green! sorry, he didn’t pull off any blues or purples, so you get flowers for the remainder.

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blue: forget-me-nots… already. seems like i’ve been saying that a lot this year.

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purple

~rainbow mondays~

a splash of color on monday morning

a photo study documenting the colors of the spectrum: the balance points between light reflected and light absorbed

other posts you may enjoy: