~rainbow mondays~


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when black looks white: white light on asphalt, the road to the campsite.

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red: sun going down on camping trip.

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red: sun setting trees aglow.

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red: another chucks week at karate. karate kid needs a headband now to keep his hair out of his eyes.

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orange: going back in time, sun still a little higher in the sky.

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yellow: this pretty butterfly let me take so many pictures of it, it qualified for three of the colors this rainbow…

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yellow-green: wading in the creek.

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green: alders in afternoon sunlight.

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blue: just the vacation house being magical again.

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purple: i think this butterfly has seen some better days, as you can look closely and see the purple through some thin spots on its wings.

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purple: nightshade has always been a favorite of mine.

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:

a month in the life of a lifelong learner

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we had an auspicious start to the month of learning with a wonderful family camping trip.

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quinn was keen on (read: fixated on) pokemon monopoly over the weekend, so he rallied the kids and taught a bunch of them how to play.

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~dog therapy with walter~

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~reading harry potter to himself by headlamp~

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~owls, ravens, ducks, field guides and dip nets~

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~ninja throwing stars~

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~possum diets, ranging widely from fresh raspberries to the compost bin~


~a big theme this month has been defining and carrying out responsibilities. many of these things have already been defined, but the pattern of mama repeating herself each time a responsibility came along (brush your teeth, put your dishes in the sink, fold your karate uniform for tomorrow…) had gotten a little… loud, shall we say? so, in an effort to save my voice and quinn’s ears, i decided to revamp the system.~


~now, quinn refers to “the instructions” which are all laid out on fridge magnets that i stole from google images and photoshopped words onto, then printed, laminated, and backed with magnetic sheets.~


~i tried to keep them interesting to him, so i used lego minifigures who looked like they were doing the actions called for. harry potter with quidditch uniform and broom accompanies the words “sweep your area,” while ninja turtle rafael instructs quinn to “take care of your karate equipment.” ~


~quinn requested a few that i had missed, including “help feed the cats” and “read.” it was validating that he made those requests, since the whole idea, at least later in life, is for him to be able to identify his own responsibilities, not necessarily to have me identify them for him…~


~so far, the results are decent. there is less screaming on my part, and although he can get distracted now looking at the magnets, he is showing more willingness to check in with his instructions and not just blow off whatever i happen to be asking him to do at the moment. ~

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~chewbacca is having his hair combed by han solo to encourage quinn to brush his hair (it’s getting long, and that is what he wants – the tradeoff being he is then responsible for it!) ~ harry potter sweeping, emmett brushing his teeth ~ the dwarves stacking their dishes in bilbo’s house ~

throw hit home


~baseball had been big this summer. he has been attending what we are affectionately calling “camp boss summer program” which just means his best friend’s mom (who happens to also be my sister) is taking care of him for me while i’m at work. together they have done some baseball math, have been playing a weeks-long game of major league baseball monopoly, and of course, have been playing baseball in the back yard. quinn’s skills are improving, i mean, look at this windup:~


~still, i think he may have more of a future in baseball commentating, moreso than playing the game. he has a real knack for understanding the rules and giving the play-by-play. “the bases are loaded, they have two outs and he has two strikes. he swings and bam, he hits it out of the park! the pirates win the series!” (or the cubs, or whatever team they happen to be impersonating that day.)~

speaking of hitting one out of the park, james taylor just did with his new album before the world. fair warning, the song about baseball, angels of fenway made me weep, and i am decidedly not a red sox fan. “doesn’t seem like a long time ago…”

while i’m misty-eyed from just typing that, i also wanted to record quinn’s recent interest in his family tree, thanks in part to his grammy making him an awesome book about family members, through a lens of a famous arctic explorer, roald amundson, with whom one of our relatives was acquainted, according to legend; and thanks also in part to the new martin and sylvia audio series from sparkle stories entitled “family tree of stories.” it came with a link to a printable family tree template with cut-out leaves to glue on your very own family tree, which quinn has begun doing. he is more excited, however, about the handheld tape recorder i dug out for him to use to collect family stories when we go to new york at the end of august! (you can’t buy blank cassette tapes at fred meyer, in case you were wondering. thank goodness for the internet.)

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~we took an intentional detour to the beach on a friday before i dove into packing all weekend, and quinn and i went on a big dinosaur pokemon fossil hunting expedition.~

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~tracking something~

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~making a point to carve out some fun and keep him feeling cared for while i was wrapped up in the move, i got quinn a new suitcase (it rolls, and it’s r2d2. how perfect is that? he took him up and down the “escalator” practicing for our upcoming trip, and r2 is also handy since we are living out of suitcases for a time at the vacation house.) rich got quinn a dragon tapestry of his very own, when he went to oregon country fair. he said he thought the blue and green would go well with quinn’s room colors and, well, we are bringing the dragon house with us, after all. quinn was ecstatic about his dragon and immediately noticed the dragon is holding a blue crystal ball. ~

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~then i realized it’s the same dragon as the one at the karate studio! quinn has been continuing to work hard on his yellow belt curriculum.~

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~universal set one work during “street clothes” week at karate~

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~another riding session with molly!~



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~lots and lots of general summer learning~


~still smiling his way through sparring class~

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~another month rides off into the sunset!~

other posts you may enjoy:

a fond farewell to dragon house 1.0

we have moved! we had to bid a fond farewell to dragon house 1.0, however, we are taking our dragons, and our memories, with us. dragon vacation house is a comfortable stopover on our way to dragon house 2.0!

a little photo stroll down memory lane…

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There’s a house on my block
that’s abandoned and cold
Folks moved out of it a
long time ago
and they took all their things
and they never came back
Looks like it’s haunted
with the windows all cracked
and everyone calls it
the house, the house where
nobody lives.

Once it held laughter
Once it held dreams
Did they throw it away
Did they know what it means
Did someone’s heart break
or did someone do somebody wrong?

Well the paint was all cracked
It was peeled off of the wood
Papers were stacked on the porch
where I stood
and the weeds had grown up
just as high as the door
There were birds in the chimney
and an old chest of drawers
Looks like no one will ever
come back to the
House where nobody lives

Once it held laughter
Once it held dreams
Did they throw it away
Did they know what it means
Did someone’s heart break
or did someone do somebody wrong?
So if you find someone
someone to have, someone to hold
Don’t trade it for silver
Don’t trade it for gold
I have all of life’s treasures
and they are fine and they are good
They remind me that houses
Are just made of wood
What makes a house grand
Ain’t the roof or the doors
If there’s love in a house
It’s a palace for sure
Without love
It ain’t nothin but a house
A house where nobody lives
Without love it ain’t nothin
But a house, A house where
Nobody lives.

~tom waitsPhoto672 Photo678 Photo473 Photo470 Photo469

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“After all,” Anne had said to Marilla once, “I believe the nicest and sweetest days are not those on which anything very splendid or wonderful or exciting happens but just those that bring simple little pleasures, following one another softly, like pearls slipping off a string.”  ~l.m. montgomery, anne of avonlea
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“If I ever go looking for my heart’s desire again, I won’t look any further than my own back yard. Because if it isn’t there, I never really lost it to begin with.” ~l. frank baum



After you leave home, you may find yourself feeling homesick, even if you have a new home that has nicer wallpaper and a more efficient dishwasher than the home in which you grew up. ~lemony snicket



The ache for home lives in all of us. The safe place where we can go as we are and not be questioned. ~maya angelou Photo1037 Photo999 Photo1014 Photo960 Photo954 Photo950 Photo933 Photo913 Photo903 Photo785 Photo834 Photo737 Photo657 Photo590 Photo557 Photo523 Photo522

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Home is a name, a word, it is a strong one; stronger than magician ever spoke, or spirit ever answered to, in the strongest conjuration. ~charles dickens

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Every path leads homeward, every step is birth, every step is death, every grave is mother. ~ hermann  hesse

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other posts you may enjoy:

~rainbow mondays~

rainbow tuesday evenings if you will? for when your monday is the kind of day that actually triggers a rare blend of superhuman strength, unflagging endurance, and mind blowing multi tasking, that simultaneously blows you away with gratitude for the abundance and providence and friends and family you have, even as it is shaking your foundation and making you vulnerable in ways you’ve never felt. thank goodness it’s tuesday.

(we live at the vacation house now! the few people who had our home phone number can delete it now, and call us on our cell phones instead!)

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red: vacation house neighbors have a nice flower garden, too.

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red: vacation pretties

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orange: universal set one, sir!

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orange: cleansing ceremony on our last night at the dragon house. (ok maybe not ceremony, more like practical rotten pallet removal.)

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yellow: looks like this little bird is blowing a farewell kiss.

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green: vacation fairy land

i didn’t manage a blue or a purple this week but i do have:

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brown: molly and quinn, cantering!

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black and white: the raspberry thief, slumming in the compost bin.


~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: most of this week’s rainbow is from the vacation house… carving out a little time for self care and posting this, on another beautiful gst monday, so i will not be very verbose.

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red and more red: vacation house crocosmia

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yellow: vacation house plums

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yellow: karate kid wearing rich’s son’s old karate outfit, unearthed from the cupboard under the stairs…

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green: vacation house green loveliness!

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blue: you guessed it, the vacation house.

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blue: not the vacation house, but a wonderful friday afternoon detour between work and packing.

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blue: a fossil pokemon dinosaur hunting expedition…

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purple: vacation house flora and fauna… we will feel right at home there with all the hummingbirds!

~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 an oregon country rainbow today… i am really having fun with bubbles these days. this was taken as i was leaving fair yesterday, as the sun was starting to set.

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white: dragon that kept visiting rich and i during the rising appalachia concert, perched on the hat of a guy in front of us to listen to the music. when the band asked us to identify the riff they were playing, and i heard the opening to ani difranco’s anticipate, note for note, but the band claimed it was a tune by alia, i realized i was a decade older than the band. we all borrow from bob dylan, who borrowed from woody guthrie, it’s the way it goes, just keep dancing and stay young at heart, right? “i was so much older then, i’m younger than that now.”

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red: quinn gets to have sleepovers with mama when rich is away at country fair. he looks forward to it all year.

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orange: the view looking up from where rich and i ate souvlaki for lunch on a beautiful bench. one of my favorite things about the day i go to fair each year is that for one day, there is no effort and no decision-making required of me in the food department.

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yellow: i did not edit this photo, this is just the way it turned out! again, as i was leaving fair, with that magical setting sun making everything glow like angels are descending on earth. which maybe they were.


green: trees everywhere, the canopy of the wonderful fairy forest fair grounds. with a couple of people who were really happy to see each other in the foreground.

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blue: one of hundreds of amazing sculptures decorating absolutely everything at the fair. hummingbird with iridescent blue wings

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blue: more end of the fair sky/sun magic, with dream catchers and prayer flags

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purple: back home, my black raspberry bush is finally producing, after 3 years… time to dig it up and bring it with me to our new home. these berries taste like “home” to me, no matter where i eat them, because they are such a wild food staple back in new york on the farm where i grew up. these are not quite as tasty (must be the soil) but still wonderful, and made my heart feel good to actually get them to grow here. back to work and packing now after a peaceful, relaxing day of sun, fun, music, and walking around hand in hand with my love.



~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~ raspberry thief

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~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:

~rainbow mondays~

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red, white and blue and rainbow: happy fourth of july, folks!

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pink: front porch of the vacation home. we had a short-term temporary rental fall into place (providence) and will be retreating from landlordly negativity and heading to this little oasis shortly to live out of suitcases and await closing on our new house, so we are calling it the vacation home. so much gratitude for good people and connections made at yoga class!

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red: speaking of vacation, we took a break from the moving and headed to our local family campsite and had a terrific fourth of july weekend by the creek.

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orange: as i was trying yesterday to re-integrate slowly back into moving mode, i found myself sitting with my coffee and camera on the bench in the backyard, when this happened. self care proved to be the best way to start my day, as it turned out to be a very productive “gst” monday (get sh!t together, as my sister and i are calling it these days).

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orange: crawdad in the creek by the campsite

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yellow: these butterflies were fluttering through the campsite all weekend!

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neon yellow: walter the dog became very good friends with quinn, who was willing to throw the ball into the creek an infinite number of times for walter to fetch.


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green: asian pear tree (rich’s favorite!) in the front yard at the vacation home.

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blue: osprey perched along the route to the vacation home. i’ve seen him there twice so far. in other wildlife news, i saw a bear on friday morning as i left for work! alas, i did not get a picture of the bear, though i did note its presence on a morning when i was really feeling my inner mama bear starting to want to emerge and roar. landlord negativity brings that kind of thing out in me, and the bear galumphing down the driveway felt like a nod to the appropriateness of that instinct.

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blue: so many kids can be so well entertained by one inanimate object

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blue: one side benefit to straddling two households during this time of year: double blueberry crops to graze!

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brown: ducks racing upstream past our campsite (a family of 15 by quinn’s count!)

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black: he is clearly quite distressed about all this moving business. or not. the kitties are both big fans of all the shifting boxes they can hide and play and sleep in. crinkly paper inside? even better. bart, in particular, likes to defy laws of physics and fit himself into boxes that are actually smaller than he is.

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rainbow: just another version of the rainbow-colored glasses we are seeing the world through these days… as viewed through a heart-shaped lens! i hope your world is all bubbles and butterflies this week!


~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:

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 ~


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


~ 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 ~


~ for a while ~


~ 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 ~



~ 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 ~


 ~ 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 ~


~ 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 ~


~ 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!!! ~


~ 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 ~


~ 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 ~



~ 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 ~


~ 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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