~a month in the life of a lifelong learner~ kites, shrinky dinks, and synesthesia


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quinn started off the month with a health setback. i knew he wasn’t feeling too great, because one afternoon he told me, “my whole body hurts!” i took some time to talk him through what he meant by that, and it turned out his toe and his throat both hurt, and that was making him feel as though his whole body hurt (naturally). i helped him do some breathing (in through nose, out through mouth) to help him get through it, and after we did that, he was thrilled to tell me his throat felt so much better!

still, he was out of sorts that week, and then he ended up having a 103 fever for a few days and being generally out of it. he didn’t have any other symptoms or problems, just a fever. he stayed home from school one day, and about all he had energy for was a game of risk (he still dominated the world). it was the same day we had tickets to go for a sail on the lady washington, and he was devastated when he woke up mid-afternoon, thinking he had slept through the night and moaned forlornly, “we missed the tall ship!” so we did not miss the tall ship.





he looked pretty miserable throughout the cruise, but he claimed he was happy to be there, and did participate in hauling on lines and listened intently to the sea chanties and stories he got to hear about life at sea.


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we have been slowly unpacking and getting settled into dragon house 2.0. his room has been in various stages throughout the month, and it’s encouraging to me to look back at what a mess it was just a month ago. we have vey little time at home lately, so it’s all going to have to get done in small chunks, that’s just the way it is. i have had a few fun inspirations such as making him a desk for his room, and setting up a trail mix snack-making station for him in the kitchen, and things are coming along bit by bit. also, note to self: if you want to inspire a video-game obsessed quinn to come and help make banana bread, offer him a choice of two banana smashing “weapons” from the “armory” and watch him get down to business. then hand him a sharp knife to chop walnuts and he’ll stay for more!

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berry season in the back yard, salmonberries, thimbleberries, and red huckleberries all represented. we also found one black huckle bush, and look forward to trying them out once they ripen!

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reading this month: continuing to listen to the percy jackson series on audio, as well as read the copy in his classroom during free reading time, we have finished up through the titan’s curse (book 3). quinn is supplementing his learning of greek mythology with two books: rick riordan’s companion book to the series, and the national geographic treasury of greek mythology. he is also cruising through the complete calvin and hobbes (4 volumes; a splurge during one past costco trip, and well worth it!) he is on volume 4, and i think he is finding calvin to be quite a kindred spirit, as well as highly entertaining. i love listening to his giggles from the next room. he spent quite a number of hours tucked in his newly reconstructed loft bed, lost in calvin’s world, this month. (the picture that is too dark to see, is him sleeping with calvin right beside his head.)


calvin’s world and quinn’s world are not so different, after all.

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we had rich’s daughter e visit us, and she and quinn got up to all kinds of games (he  roped her into a dungeons and dragons session) and treats (pastries and trips to dutch bros! quinn has a “usual” order there, apparently: a 16-ounce, not-so-hot soy milk. “i used to get the kiddie size, but now i get a 16 ounce!”) it is so wonderful to watch how nice our kids are to each other!


while we were loading up e’s car with her stuff from our storage unit, we were visited by several osprey.

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quinn required me to finish the dungeon he started with e, and then i started him off on his next adventure, a dungeon i drew for him back in february that he hasn’t gone through yet. i am excited for him to find the dragon fossils and the dragon egg waiting for him… we didn’t get that far this round, though!


rumors of dragons in hickory glen village” dungeon by mama (mama was a dungeon master)

and now i will treat you to 42 seconds of audio detailing quinn’s ideal day as a grown up paleontologist, including vocabulary gems such as excavate, and reconstruct!

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arting this month: quinn went to another art friday class at our visual arts center, but didn’t get to do the second class day because of his fever illness. he also got to make a lighthouse collage at school, and do concentric square chalk designs on the pavement at a friend’s going away party, which inspired many other kids to make concentric squares… the whole patio looked incredible when they were done. we are sad to see our friends (some of our ols kids, including a boy who was one of quinn’s 2 birthday guests this year) leave town.


quinn’s class field trip involved a week or two of kite-making that i got to help out with in the classroom, and then a trip to the beach to fly the kites! this eagle greeted us as we arrived on the beach, and i got to point it out to some kids who had never seen one before. the kites were designed based on a favorite book each kid read during their year in third grade, and quinn chose the spirit animals series. i just love how his turned out! they were all works of art.

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for whatever reason, he chose not to fly his kite that day, but he still had a super fun time beaching around with friends, building sand fortresses, and playing army/survival games, football and frisbee.



friends… third grade… my mom taught third grade for years, and she told me once that her first graders (she taught first grade for years as well) were not that concerned about friendship, and still tended to do parallel play, but that by third grade, they were waking up to the idea of friendship and becoming really interested in being friends and having friends… “and they were the worst friends you could ever have!” she would laugh, lovingly. i think i got to see that before my eyes in his class this year.  they started out pretty terrible at it. they still are not pros, but i think that by the end of the year, they are starting to get the hang of it! i think quinn definitely has a few kids in his class whose company he consistently enjoys, and it was nice to see them hanging out on the field trip.

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flash back: first day of third grade

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field trip day; less than a week of third grade left!

having spent time almost every week in the classroom, i really got to know the kids pretty well, and i think that by the end of the year, they knew that i was a person they could lean on. i had a bunch of kids turn to me towards the end, and do some sort of processing of non-academic stuff. a handful had very pointed questions for me about the criminal background checks required of parent volunteers; i know they were wishing so hard for their parents to be able to participate at school, and they seemed to be searching for a loophole, but ack! the things i learned, i wish i could unlearn, about those dear sweet childrens’ family lives. there were some beautiful connections, nonetheless, like a long conversation with one girl who spoke no english back in september, but who is becoming quite fluent, and shared much of her life story with me on kite day, including that this was her first time ever going to the beach! it’s a small town, and when i see these kids in fred meyer, they wave and yell “hi, ms. mary beth!” before they can stop themselves. i know i will continue to see many of them for years to come, at fred meyer and school alike.


archaeological artifact from the school desk dig site…


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we’ve been making shrinky dink charms to commemorate summer events because of kelle hampton’s recent post. what a fun project! quinn has been going through a drought of drawing and arting, and i know that is normal for him (he goes through peaks and troughs in many areas. i think it’s a perfectionism thing; when his development catches up to his goals for the end product, he starts using a certain medium or exploring a certain activity again with full competence.) anyway, he took a little convincing that he could draw his own shrinky dinks, too, but then he got into it and has made some for the various books, games, and video games he’s interested in right now, plus some activities, like sailing on a tall ship (i drew that one to demonstrate: 80’s kids are experts at shrinky dinks!) and going to dutch bros!

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a recipe for summer only a true geek would dream up!

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when it came time to make a father’s day present for his dad, quinn was all geared up to make him a shrinky dink woolly mammoth necklace. for that one, he just pulled his geologic time scale poster down from the wall and did a lovely tracing!  it was fun to see him extend the idea to making a present, and it was his own idea!

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family bonding moments: guys in the kitchen, friend’s notations on the summer calendar i printed for his camp boss mom of plans for things he wants to do with quinn including : baseball, legos, monopoly, army, and book club.

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quinn let us in on one of the many quull things about being quinn this month, and it’s kind of amazing to me he hadn’t let on before now. quinn has grapheme-color synesthesia (fancy words for seeing each letter and number as a certain assigned color). synesthesia, in a nutshell, is when two sensory experiences overlap, and it’s a neurological phenomenon – it’s how his brain is wired. in reading up on the topic, i realized i think he also has number-form synesthesia, where he has visual number maps that appear for him when he does math. he showed us a cool way of doing multiplication that he learned at school (far left image), and it obviously appealed to him, enough that he wanted to show us. but then, i asked him about the way i’ve watched him add up 5 rolls of the d20 for character attributes in d and d (middle 3 images) and he tells me that is just something that came to him, it wasn’t something he was taught to do.


quinnesthesia: q is green, m is purple!

because i was curious, i asked him the colors of a and b, 1 and 2, then casually left the piece of paper i had begun writing them on lying around on his new desk so he could fill in the rest if he wanted…  and he did! when he got to e he paused, “i need a way to draw it white…” then grabbed a skinny sharpie and made its outline. then i asked him a million questions. if you write 89 is it pink then red? yes. of his own accord, he brought up dollar and cents signs and their colors, and it unleashed a whole bunch more questions from me about different symbols, which he indulged (though i see he didn’t get colon and semi-colon written down. he told them to me but i forget!)

i asked if they have all stayed the same color all along, like has a always been orange, and he told me that they all start out one color, like gray, “but then as my mind gets more advanced, they turn more colorful.” then after that, the color seems pretty set.

i asked if he knew that not everyone had this, and he said he knew that. he’s just too quull for words.


calvin’s version: dinosthesia

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in home improvement world, i have been doing some creative lighting around the house, involving affordable light fixtures, mason jars, and rope. stay tuned for more on that, but i needed an assistant for making rope, and i enlisted the lad to crank the rope machine for me while i held the ends. then he left to go read calvin and hobbes, and i let my spade fork hold the ends while i cranked it myself. sigh.

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in karate news, quinn finished up his last few weeks of being a purple belt! he earned his final red tip and became eligible to promote to blue belt! and in other karate news, mama began going to karate class, too! speaking of lifelong learning… we have a new white belt in the family!

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it’s pretty laid back, so quinn can hang out with the dojo kids, building forts with the mats until they get too chaotic and then reading, you guessed it, calvin and hobbes. one night he studied a map of oregon with his buddy m for the whole hour and i think they read every single name of every town in the state.

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we’ve shared some nice back yard wildlife moments including woodpeckers and swallowtails. i also tempted quinn to try cucumber again by making him this veggie smile, and confirmed he still doesn’t like how it tastes. he did eat the carrots and spinach, so it’s all good.

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and just like that, school is out, and summer is off to a wonderful, fun-filled start!

other posts you may enjoy:

~rainbow mondays~ redwoods and blue belts

it’s a full moon, summer solstice, celebration rainbow!

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sometimes you need to meditate on the absence of color in order to appreciate the colors!

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red: quinn and i watched a family of 3 woodpeckers practice climbing up our redwood tree.

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red: sometimes it’s just another dead leaf on the gravel driveway, until the sun hits it just so…

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orange (and friends): i love picking quinn up from camp boss summer program, becoming absorbed into the family chaos, plopping myself down on the awesome polyester picnic quilt, and getting my fill of baby squish.

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yellow: quinn and i interrupted our baseball game so i could attempt to capture these two. “they’re playing!” he observed. i think that’s a nice way to describe it!

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green: some of the tree friends we are getting to know little by little. i love listening to rich be able to tell people in conversation the exact number of redwoods, port orford cedars, or sitka spruces we have on the land.


green: a water strider walking on the bayou.

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blue: dragonfly on the dragon shed.


blue: one final note of celebration: quinn promoted to blue belt on friday!!! (photo credit to another karate parent, i couldn’t be there on friday; so grateful to get to see his beaming smile!)

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purple: last days as a purple belt. i’m so proud of him!


~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~ butterfly butts and darth moths


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red: the biggest one

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red: seeing hearts

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red: a dragon of dragon house 2.0

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red: darth moth

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orange: lilies of the lab

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yellow: one of the best things about the bayou walks is the wafting aroma of honeysuckle lurking around various corners

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yellow: i finally sat still long enough to catch some swallowtail photos

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it was impossible to just choose one…

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yellow-green: western tanager is still hanging around, eating the neighbor’s plums in addition to our cherries.

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green: another frugivore munching huckleberries on the bayou trail.

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green: the bayou

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green: fauna of the bayou. yes, i know, seeing a mama hummingbird feeding its baby was supposed to be once in a lifetime, but apparently someone goofed, because i just got to witness it twice in the same one. (different birds: this one has apparently fledged but is still getting help from mama; this one is in our backyard, while the others were from work.)

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so glad i happened to be holding my camera.

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thank you, universe.

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blue: more bayou fauna, this time cedar waxwings.

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blue: the view from down here

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blue: finding some creative alternative lighting options for the dragon house kitchen. since we don’t get real fireflies here, we’re having to mimic bioluminescence with artificial firefly jars: micro leds in an old blue jar above my sink.

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periwinkle: there really should be more periwinkle in the rainbow…

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purple: bayou grasses

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purple: butterfly butt, as it turned its back on me to drink from each and every blossom on the bright purple buddleia.

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i hope you have a fantastic 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:

gratitude for the step dad






it’s no secret i have a lot of love for this guy i’m spending my life with, but i don’t know if i’ve ever really bragged about what a wonderful step dad he is to quinn. if luigi were reading this, he’d fuss that rich isn’t really quinn’s step dad yet, just like he isn’t uncle rich yet, but i can’t think of a better term for the role of mama’s partner in all things including parenting.

these guys got along right from the first dinosaur battle, but as anyone with a blended family knows, the step parent relationship can be a thankless, unfulfilling one. you have all the pains in the butt of parenting, with so few of the perks. rich is my back up, and he has always been there to reinforce what mama says, and when he does, look out for the fire shooting out of his eyes. it tends to encourage a rapid response in children on the receiving end. there was once a time when quinn would beg me, “don’t make me have a talk with rich!” as if anything on earth would be more pleasant! please mama, just not that.

other times, they have both worked their way towards finding common ground and they have really grown to appreciate one another. one goodnight hug after another, they’ve found their groove.

in dragon house 2.0, there is a wall above the stairway that apparently has been the spot to hang trophy heads, and as we were remarking that we didn’t have one, rich realized, actually we do have one! a dragon head! and quinn chimed in right away, yeah! with hearty enthusiasm for that brilliant idea. the reason our home is the dragon house to begin with is that both of them have a deep and abiding love for dragons.


when rich’s kids came to karate with us, i was touched to see quinn come off the mat afterwards and walk straight to rich and give him the first hug.

often i find myself playing one-on-one games of baseball with quinn, and i do my best to help the mylanta falcons, miami home slice, and south dakota purple fairies not be too devastatingly defeated by the buffalo stormriders. still, quinn seems to know that rich is a much better bet when it comes to baseball. he made up a team on paper, and if you’ll notice, rich’s stats are pretty great. he’s the toledo dragon with a speed rating of 9!


speaking of 9, the two of them stood in the kitchen procrastinating bedtime a few nights ago, and talking about math, the present moment, the irrelevance of time, and fourth grade. we learned that quinn is a synesthete, and that certain letters and numbers evoke certain colors in his mind. i had no idea!

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m is purple, for example. s is yellow, n is brown and p is pink. 3 is green, and rich’s favorite number 9, is rich’s favorite color, red.

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i am hoping to find out more about what colors go with what numbers and letters for quinn, but i know that on this father’s day, feeling filled up with love for both of my guys, all the letters seem red-violet to me.


other posts you may enjoy:

~a month in the life of a lifelong learner~ i’ve gotta be me


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farm tour!

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quinn got to wield the allen wrench and build his bed once again… this time at dragon house 2.0, age 9. flashback to dragon house 1.0, age 5!

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some fun foods of the month; bird face pizzas and rainbow fruit!

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returning salmon fry to the stream with quinn’s third grade class.



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quinn got to attend his second karate seminar with mr. sepulveda, and go to dinner at the laughing planet cafe afterwards. it seems to be becoming tradition. he had a girl a head shorter than him enthusiastically choose him for a sparring partner, and they took turns flipping each other over for the whole hour. i think he had fun and learned a lot, and once again absorbed awesomeness from an esteemed kenpo teacher who actually studied directly under ed parker, the founder of this form of martial arts.

in between karate and dinner, we got to go on a brief farm tour #2 for the month (this was more of a sister friend visit, but… baby goats!)

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climbing up ladders into haylofts, swinging on rope swings, meeting a sheep named artemis, having a baby goat suck on his fingers, and generally farming around. mama even got in on the baby goat holding and one took a nap in my arms.

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come home on a friday after a week of school and work on division worksheets, why don’t you? sometimes an activity, like treasure map division problem puzzles, sits on a shelf for 6 months and then all of a sudden must urgently be completed in one sitting.

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karate – second black tip earned on his purple belt!



spring concert fun, with the interjections song from schoolhouse rocks. i think he was pretty pumped to be one of the sign holder uppers. they also sang a ladybug song, and the 5th grade sang this land is your land with all of the best verses included – love that music teacher. then the whole school joined in on i’ve gotta be me. so much gratitude for teachers who plant the right subliminal messages…

Whether I’m right or whether I’m wrong

Whether I find a place in this world or never belong

I gotta be me, I’ve gotta be me

What else can I be but what I am

I want to live, not merely survive

And I won’t give up this dream

Of life that keeps me alive

I gotta be me, I gotta be me

The dream that I see makes me what I am

That far away prize, a world of success

Is waiting for me if I heed the call

I won’t settle down, won’t settle for less

As long as there’s a chance that I can have it all

I’ll go it alone, that’s how it must be

I can’t be right for somebody else

If I’m not right for me

I gotta be free, I’ve gotta be free

Daring to try, to do it or die

I’ve gotta be me

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we geeked out about the number 9 this month; i still sing “that crazy number nine” from the 80s show square one  when i show a kid the nine trick. so i showed him the real song on you tube (some things are better left to the mama’s remembered rendition?), which launched a session of schoolhouse rocks math videos. i just recently bought the book go figure for him, because i think he really digs knowing all the fancy math secrets.

his room is getting set up piece by piece at the new house, slowly coming together. he said he likes that the changes are gradual so he can get used to them.

we managed to get to the pool for one open swim this month, and quinn spent the entire hour and a half doing laps back and forth with two noodles tucked under his arms, practicing his swimming and even getting his face wet and working on blowing out bubbles. major progress. he was wearing his new goggles and squishy ear plugs to keep water out of his ears. if only i had thought of getting some of those years ago! it made such a visible difference for him.

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coming back from an evening walk, mamarazzi caught red-handed.


bunny watching out the vacation house kitchen window.


backpack archaeological dig finds

quinn got to go on a weekend camping trip with his dad out to eastern oregon desert country. when he told me about it, he told me he found a really cool piece of fire obsidian that he described in great detail; that he got to buy a barn owl stuffie at the high desert museum; and that he got to smash a penny. i found out later he also saw a porcupine up close, and got to see a great horned owl even closer; saw a baby owl in the wild and then found one of its feathers after it left; saw another owl flying; and spent his free time reading tom brown books.


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reading and listening our way through percy jackson and the olympians, i found quinn another book written by rick riordan, percy jackson’s greek gods, which gives more background on the mythology behind the books. he is fully engrossed in that book, as well as calvin and hobbes, and the spirit animals series.


all of which leads me to ask… what if the hokey pokey really is what it’s all about?


other posts you may enjoy:

~rainbow mondays~ bayou walks at dragon house 2.0

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end of the last full week of third grade rainbow before school on friday – the day of our field trip to fly kites at the beach… luckily the rain mostly didn’t fall on us!

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sunbows seem to be rather prevalent in the sky above dragon house 2.0!

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pink: a delicate pink columbine hiding in the front yard. a friend of mine posts columbine photos on april 20 each year as a reminder to us all of the columbine shooting. with the orlando shooting that just took place, these thoughts are especially on my mind, and my heart is with the families and loved ones of those killed and injured.

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pink: it makes one want to hold one’s own loved ones closer, and savor the sweet moments life gives us, like the evening walks that are becoming a daily ritual for rich and i. normally we walk to our bayou but on our saturday walk we ranged farther afield in the neighborhood with camera in hand.

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red: the abundance of roses is staggering. between them and the honeysuckle we can smell coming from every direction, our walks are quite heavenly!

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orange: entwined carrots from my farm

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yellow: western tanager: “i am going to eat your cherry.”

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“i am taking a bite of your cherry.”

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“i’ve just eaten your cherry.”

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yellow: the western tanager, according to my sibley guide, “feeds on insects and larvae gleaned from leaves.” apparently won’t look down its nose at my ripe cherries, either.

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yellow: far more numerous in sightings, but far more difficult to photograph lately, the swallowtails are busy making unpredictable fast flights through the back yard.

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yellow: these two were on a date, but even they wouldn’t hold still for one second.

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green: the bayou

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green: cedar shaking hands with walnut

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green: our amazing daily hiking trail, which my man is maintaining and improving.

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green: marsh green paint from quinn’s room in dragon house 1.0, now covering my old plywood desk top and stretched across some shelves for my favorite boy.

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green: damselfly that i had to lay down in the grass to photograph.

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blue: while i was already in the grass, these two red-tailed hawks put on a show for us far overhead in the blue dream of sky.

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blue: shapes in the neighborhood.

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blue: they’re my blue sky, they’re my sunny day. love our kids. and they love each other, too. saturday morning on my 1-in-14 day off, strolling with my family. this is just before he got her to buy him extra pastries and take him to dutch bros.


purple: the morning breaking out our bedroom window. we can live with that view!

~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:

~black and white wednesdays~ all i ask is a tall ship and a star to steer her by

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“like a bird on the wire,
like a drunk in a midnight choir
i have tried in my way to be free. “

~l. cohen


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a (late) beaver down by the bayou on our new property. we keep finding ourselves meandering down to the swamp to listen to the birds and feel the peaceful stillness and breathe the boggy air.


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quinn had a fever and got sent home from school the day we planned to go for a tall ship sail on the lady washington, but he was determined to go. in fact, he was devastated that “i missed the tall ship!” when he woke up from an hour-long nap, thinking he had slept all night, that i knew we had to try. he has been anticipating this voyage all the way since the dock tours we did last year. i figured, a drop of nelson’s blood wouldn’t do us any harm, after all.

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why not help to sweat a line, when you’ve already got a fever?

“a drop of nelson’s blood wouldn’t do us any harm,

and we’ll all hang on behind

and we’ll roll the old chariot along…”

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my men look rather nautical, wouldn’t you say?

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the hawaiian chieftain was also sailing that evening, so i got to play with framing their ship in our rigging. always good photo opportunities when you’re not the one sailing the vessel. if you’ve known me a long time, you know i volunteered on the chieftain when i lived in berkeley and its home port was still sausalito. this was my first sail on the lady washington, better known as the interceptor in the movie the pirates of the caribbean.

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“heel-yo-ho, boys, let her go, boys,

bring her head ’round into the weather

hell-yo-ho, boys, let her go, boys,

sailing homeward to mingulay”

we did get to sail “into the weather” (essentially, heading upwind) and help with bracing around the square sails, and it was amusing for me to watch the volunteer crew not quite know which lines were to be eased and which were to be hauled on during “let go and haul,” or during the setting and striking of the sails… nuances that i think the average passenger wouldn’t notice whatsoever. i found i had to restrain myself from pointing out the right lines, or coiling down all the loose lines lying around the deck after a sailing maneuver, or hurrying out on the bowsprit to furl the staysail or aloft to furl the topsail and topgallant. i didn’t want to steal anyone’s experience, after all! i got to have my time as a tall ship sailor, and it’s someone else’s turn now.

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i’ll close with one more nautical treat, this time a poem by john masefield…


i must down to the seas again, to the lonely sea and the sky,

and all i ask is a tall ship and a star to steer her by,

and the wheel’s kick and the wind’s song and the white sail’s shaking,

and a gray mist on the sea’s face and a gray dawn breaking.

i must down to the seas again, for the call of the running tide

is a wild call and a clear call that may not be denied;

and all i ask is a windy day with the white clouds flying,

and the flung spray and the blown spume, and the sea gulls crying.

i must down to the seas again, to the vagrant gypsy life,

to the gull’s way and the whale’s way, where the wind’s like a whetted knife;

and all i ask is a merry yarn from a laughing fellow rover,

and quiet sleep and a sweet dream when the long trick’s over.

other posts you may enjoy:

~rainbow mondays~ roses are rainbows

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one week i’ll make a whole rainbow out of found hearts… this is all i have to show for this week!

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it’s still monday-ish, right? here’s a rainbow feast of color from the past few weeks.

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pink: dragon perched on a rose

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red: roses are in full bloom all over the place: a vacation house rose pictured here.

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red: somebody held still to show off his red throat.

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orange: orange roses!

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orange: and poppies!

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orange: and geraniums! and a flamingo!

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yellow: someone tall dark and handsome picked me one of the yellow roses. they smell just like tropical rose fruit salad!

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yellow: this really is more white than yellow; calla with spider

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green: coyote magic in the vacation house back yard.

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blue: rose magic

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blue: steller’s jay in motion

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blue: full moon as i embarked on a morning tidepooling adventure.

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blue: hummingbird with sunbow

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blue: a refreshing beverage after yard work

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blue: went on a tall ship adventure! more photos to come on black and white wednesday!

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purple: i also could have called this one orange or black i suppose… bright colors in small doses on a lovely early morning mamas-only tidepooling excursion with a friend.

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purple: columbine growing in our new backyard.

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purple: sea urchin beauty

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gray: more of the tidepooling adventure in muted grays and browns…. a seal kiss!

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baby seal IMG_6663

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this eagle arrived above our heads as soon as we stepped onto the beach, and accompanied us the whole time.

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~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~ sprouting spring spirit

spring means sprouts… bringing back an old favorite easter tradition, we grew some wheat grass in an easter basket. r2d2 and baseball eggs filled with jelly beans rounded out the holiday fun, since easter (and christmas) were all still in storage.

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we celebrated our traditional st. patty’s day family gathering a little belatedly. i took surprisingly few photos of my kid, who had fun playing chess, watching baseball, and eating bertie bott’s every flavor jello.

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dying easter eggs ~ always has been, always will be, one of my favorite seasonal traditions. highlights this year included rubber band egg die dying, and dying the dino egg green.

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the larval herring are growing, and looking like little strings with eyes, swimming around in the tanks at my work.


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it’s not the sun, but it’s yellow. it’s a little bit like the moon, because the reflection of the sun bouncing off of it brightens up our world; it’s the national geographic section of the household library. we will have such fond memories of the vacation house, and this one photo of my hobbit perching by the picture window near the front door sums up so much.

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reading… it didn’t really seem to matter that so many of our books were in storage this past year. between the housemate library (quinn has enjoyed pulling out vintage peanuts comics off the shelf), the public library (we’re continuing with the spirit animals series, and listened to the audio book of the swiss family robinson – quinn thoroughly enjoyed this, although *spoiler* i wish i had remembered the part about a boa constrictor eating the family’s donkey grizzle so i could have skipped that for quinn’s sake; otherwise he found the shelter-building, exploring, inventing, adapting, harvesting, hunting, living-off-the-land-ing very enchanting), and the school bookshelf (quinn has begun reading percy jackson; as my best friend said better than i could, “i have waited for this his whole life,”  he has not wanted for books.

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expanding into his writing game, all the wonderful reading has inspired him to start writing fan fiction. he came to work with me one day while his dad left for camping and wrote a spin off story to the spirit animals series called (working title) a guide to the great beasts in which a character named quinn must bond with all of the spirit animals from the series. quinn has actively been working on his writing all during the school year, writing fables and using writing as a tool to make lists for things like his fantasy baseball team.

because you’re so nice for reading this blog, i will treat you to paragraph one of his great beast guide, which blew me away!

   Briggin felt hot. Despite the cave’s cool air Briggin felt very hot. He lay down and looked at the cave entrance. Suddenly He felt a tug he knew it well. It was a tug of bonding, and all of a sudden, he was gone.

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we took a trip to the beach after school one afternoon, enjoyed the sun and climbed aboard imagination log ships, brought along imaginary log dogs when we settled swiss-family-robinson-esque dune islands, and had a grand time running around in the sand.

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sensory sand time is so important for recharging my boy’s neurons. it isn’t nearly as in my face as it used to be, but quinn is still a pretty sensitive guy to sound, smell, and certain tactile sensory experiences, especially around his head/ears/hair/scalp, that i think i automatically put calming sensory experiences in his pathway to counteract the stress he can build up from one too many sensory stimuli. he was particularly on edge one afternoon and i popped his headphones on with sparkle stories and parked him in front of the bird seed bin. i don’t know a lot of 9 year olds who crave the calming feel of sifting bird seed through funnels, but 30 minutes of that really mellows this kid out.

he also got to spend some time in the pool on a friend’s birthday, and sitting on the poolside, i realized that i needed to get him some goggles and earplugs to see if that would help him learn to swim. he is quite eager to learn now that he sees his peers gaining proficiency at it. i think 90% of his reluctance to swim thus far has to do with his head being underwater, or having water in his eyes, nose and ears. sitting there, i realized that i think the ears might be the biggie, and shortly after the pool visit, bought some for him to try soon.


we have spent time outside again playing whiffle ball, enjoying more glorious sunshine.

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homework made an appearance in quinn’s life for several months (not until the second half of the school year did his teacher assign any) and he handled it fairly professionally.

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this time around, quinn earned his black tip during his karate tip test; so did a lot of the other kids. it reinforced that no one is being singled out, shamed, or made an example of, and also reinforced that as a group, they can help each other stay on task and achieve their goals. not a team sport, and yet…


quinn articulated his philosophy on the eating of sprouts; this avoidance of nature interference now extends to not participating in the feeding of live sea monkeys (i.e. live fish food) to the larval herring in my lab. he is against it and refuses to participate in such barbaric activities. i am hoping he holds off a bit longer on really thinking all of these food concepts through, because it’s already hard enough to get food into the child.

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at last, a pancake visit!  we have sure missed our pancakes, and it was so lovely to have them stay for a week long visit.


on pancake arrival day, we waited for pancakes while celebrating his recent earning of his black tip with a food co-op treat date.

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soon they arrived, and fun was had! baseball was played, basketball games were watched, playgrounds were frequented, a birthday mama turned 38, fluffy purple fabric was gifted, and mousse was consumed.

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quinn had been to the library in anticipation of the pancakes coming to visit, and chose wonderful books to read to the girls – he picked out age-appropriate books about unicorns (uni) and a dinosaur ballerina (brontorina). it was cute to see him being thoughtful of their interests and preferences, while sharing favorites of his (owl moon!) with the girls.

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there was some epic extended-pretend-play going on, including an elf king, a princess (as b pancake explained, it’s because she’s wearing pink) and a tagger: “if she tags us we get game over. and she throws hot dogs at things to burn them.” and stuff.

i had to laugh and sigh at rich’s son’s description of his youngest daughter when she wakes up in the morning and sneaks around to attack his feet… he described the way he is semi-aware of her being awake because of “the sound of cheeks” as they’re getting ready to smile.

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grandpa got his time in with the pancake granddaughters. they wanted to play yahtzee, and he was just the twinkly eyed and crinkly smiled expert they were looking for to teach them. z pancake has a way of saying her older sister’s one-syllable name with 3 syllables and in a bronx accent. b pancake has grown so much into an almost kindergartner that i just kept shaking my head and gasping, sighing and smiling some more. they are so great.

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b pancake now fits into (with some cuff rolling) the karate uniform that quinn has now outgrown; it was found underneath the stairs as we were moving out of dragon house 1.0, having belonged to rich’s son many years ago. it is making the family rounds! it needed new elastic when it was unearthed but once i replaced that, it was quinn’s tried and true uniform for many months. quinn doesn’t relinquish clothing items easily, but happily gave his blessing when it came to passing it down the pancake line.

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it was over too soon, we miss the little lines of pink rainboots and unikitty/princess leia/hermione spaceships underfoot, the unmistakable signs of little girls having been here.

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quinn got to go on several fishing trips with his dad this month; one quite remarkable event occurred that i will not tell much about other than to say that quinn told me an osprey stole his fish from right beside the boat just as he was about to net it; he requested i not tell much about it, because he did not want to disspell the magic of that moment, and i will honor that request, while still recording the hint of the memory here for him to come back and be reminded of one day.

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still a fan of the garbage can! even after all these years.

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my assistant baker helped me make cinnamon rolls for rich’s birthday.


also continued to help in the pizza decorating department.

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we enjoyed playing with new baby chicks with adopted cousins.

at parent teacher conferences, we learned that quinn’s test scores remain pinned at the 99th percentile. but he’s never really had much use for percentiles, anyway.


(height/weight stats from his first year scrap book!)

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on another day at work with me, i think because his dad had a test and there was no school, he told me, “you smell like fish. and plastic gloves.” he said this with no judgement, good or bad, just a completely neutral observation. i was highly amused! he also built a mouse droid out of legos and spent each walk between lab and office rescuing caterpillars that happened to be going across the sidewalk. sidewalks, all interfering with nature and stuff.

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quinn’s idea of helping move into the dragon house is emptying each box onto the floor and spreading its contents out so that nobody can walk. i am endeavoring to set up his room in such a way to maximize floor space; the more space to encrust with legos and layer with pokemon cards, the better.

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we got to experience a sizeable flock of doves flying over and roosting in trees by the vacation house, on the very day prince died. i was glad we got the doves, and not the purple rain.

every morning i peel back the flannel sheets from this boy’s head, and inhale deeply as i kiss his cheek: morning  breath, sleep warmth, the baby cake smell of burts bees shampoo and the native cinnamon that he was born with. every day, it’s a good day to be a mama.


other posts you may enjoy:

~this moment~ check this off the bucket list


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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: