~rainbow mondays~

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red: cranberries simmering…

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orange: a friday evening stroll on the beach with rich’s daughter and her fiance.

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yellow: fall leaves glowing in the sun.

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green: fairy habitat

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blue: us, in the fading evening light, so we have multiple pairs of glasses and appear a bit dreamy. not a good enough photo of his hot beard now that it is all grown in, but i will keep trying.

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blue: ruby, my fairy dog daughter, and quinn, catching up on snuggles over the holiday break.

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brown: cinnamon swirls on our thanksgiving chai (or milk and honey, in quinn’s case). still on vacation after all these months. 😉

~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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welcome to another oregon coast tidepool edition of rainbow mondays…

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i’ve got a purple finale planned, so i am going to stick the grays, black and whites, and blinding white light shots up front.

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gray, black, and blinding white light.

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black and white: yin and yang again

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grays: plane, kelp and horse, all from our saturday walk

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gray: sunday’s gray contingent. seal shenanigans – i like the one airing its hind flippers, and the two fwapping each other in the face with their front flippers.

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and of course i like that baby in the foreground, clearly in prime position to do what mammal babies do best.

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it’s also fun when a heron flies through the picture you’re taking of the seals. have i mentioned i love it here?

ok, time for some color…

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pink: hermit crab on calcified red algae

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pink: sunrise over confused rhododendron, in full bloom in november.

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red: arguably not my finest photo, but when quinn heard i still needed red for my rainbow, he quickly pointed out that the bucket of sludge i was carrying off the beach was red. solved. (i am not entirely sure of the contents- might have been new oil, might have been used oil, but it was oil, about 3 gallons of it that needed to be far away from my beach, my seabirds, my seals, and my tidepools.)

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orange: it’s ruby’s thanksgiving vacation at the vacation house! we love our puppy.

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orange: puzzling over this shrub, found in the dunes, showing off in fall colors. are these rose hips? i didn’t stop long enough to check for thorns, but i want to say that a rose is a better guess than a poison oak/goji berry hybrid cross.

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orange: nudibranch. this is after i accidentally fed him to the sea urchin, trying to nudge him into a better photo position, and then rescued him from said urchin. sorry urchin, you’re on your own.

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orange: neat looking rocks

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orange: an octopus casualty melting into the beach rocks.

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yellow: small fraction of the reading material available at the vacation house.

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yellow: he’s a little sun beam.

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green: hobbit habitat from the saturday walk quinn and i took ruby on.

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green: the sunday walk anemones; also, we did see one healthy sea star. (orange; not pictured)

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blue: the clouds were in the water

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blue: yawn, another eagle picture. (same couple, i think. we were just across the street from where we saw them last week)

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blue: whale sightings from the beach. reason number one i live here.

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blue: boy, dog, dune, moon.

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purple: the grand finale, just like fireworks bursting, but all involving purple, so, even better than fireworks.

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ripple effects…

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sometimes i play with photoshop… these 3 are just little corners of urchin photos, blown up and with extra contrast… things get abstract…

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ahem, we were having a finale.

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only thing better than purple – purple and green!

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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:

simple poems

like a message in a bottle, or a time capsule i never intended to bury, i found these quotes waiting patiently in my drafts folder, and a quick search tells me i never published them. a little gift to me from my couple of years ago self, the electronic equivalent of scraps of paper found in a pocket. being a space cadet has its advantages.


this morning when i was driving out our dirt road to bring quinn to school he told me, “you’re going too fast. go as slow as a heron when he’s walking.”


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(there weren’t any pictures associated with the post yet, so i took the liberty of going back to the photos from around the dates on these quotes… also a fun trip down memory lane!)

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“look at those geese! they’re forming a moon!”



“this is the u.p.s. fishing boat, calling the u.s. coast guard, come in… we’re having a pelagic emergency!”



“can we keep hearing the talking about exploring diabetes with owls?” quinn requesting to continue listening to terri gross’s fresh air interview with david sedaris because “i like the sound of his voice and what he’s saying.”



“even the salmonberries have fairies tending them, mama. there are fairies tending every kind of plant that has food that we eat. and then, when we eat the salmonberries, the fairies tend us instead!”




(about romper the chihuahua)”he’s running around so fast it’s like he’s water running through a pipe!”




i hope your day brings you a gift just as sweet!

other posts you may enjoy:

a month in the life of a lifelong learner

one of this month’s learning highlights was following the world series. we took a special interest this year, as grammy’s team was in the series, and quinn had recent, fond memories of sitting on the porch with grammy and grampy and watching mets games. we had a lot of fun, even though they ultimately lost in the end. quinn has a pretty good grasp of the rules of the game now, but what i particularly loved was hearing him read the players’ names phonetically. my two favorites were cespedes (kes-ped-ease), which sounded like some kind of crispy snack, and moustakas – the first time he said it, it was “mouse-steaks,” yum!

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khan academy: computer programming

in the life of a lifelong learner, there is a balance to be sought in terms of how much screen time is beneficial (i am speaking of all screens here, including tv, movies, tablets, laptops, and smart phones). this is a matter for each family to resolve for themselves, and there is no single right answer. while i believe that the ideal way for quinn to learn how to set his own limits with most substances is to allow him to determine what feels best to him, to develop his internal sensors for “too much” and “enough” through his own experience, i definitely offer a ton of guidance, information, and firm boundaries when it comes to substances like high fructose corn syrup and screen time, given their ability to do harm, and my lack of trust in those particular substances to obey the usual rules of internal-enough-sensor formation. i find i am unwilling to let him expose himself to something to the point of doing harm, so i step in and make a top-down decision at times. i wrestle with when to do this and whether i am giving him enough room to trust himself, vs looking to an authority figure or other external source to determine his needs for him.

some of my workarounds, rather than be the mean mama who is always putting the smack down on his desire to play video games:

  1. i try to offer lots of other enriching activities while downplaying the presence of screens in our home; books, audio stories, toys, board games, and craft supplies are all in more prominent places than any screens.
  2. i set certain times of day aside to be screen-free (with the information shared freely that i watch his focus and attention decrease dramatically in the hour just after video games are played- therefore before school, and just before bedtime, screens are not available.)
  3. instead of “binge on whatever game you choose”  or “fall down a you tube rabbit hole” when he does get on a screen, i want him to see screens as a tool he can use to achieve his goals, rather than him being a tool to be used by the games, videos, and advertisers. again, i strew these screen-as-tool opportunities in his path, while not strewing endless video gaming opportunities there. he certainly plays games, but he is equally likely to be designing a game, or learning how to program a game, as he is to be playing one. some ways he uses the screen as a tool include stop motion animation, studying computer programming and math on khan academy, and word processing- for writing stories as well as typing up board game rules and card making.

it has taken me a while to articulate this distinction between tool use and vegetative-state screen use. it feels good to have a principle in place to guide decisions for a difficult-to-regulate substance like this, and i have never believed the all-or-nothing stance, in either direction, would be the best way to handle screens, for my household. i think it took me a while to step away from the continuum of opinions of whether screens are bad or good, to arriving at a place of accepting that we live with screens, and the question becoming, how can we live with them in the best way, to our healthiest advantage?

by the way, “strew” is probably the unschooling word that had the biggest impact on me and my style/approach to unschooling and nurturing lifelong learning. one of the biggest misconceptions about unschooling, is that it’s a hands-off approach to learning. i don’t think that was the intent, and it’s not how i understood it and applied it. i was/am always thinking of ways to strew ideas and potential projects and interesting experiences with potential to spark further inquiry. the key is choices: presenting enriching choices, and honoring the choices your students make and what they want to pursue learning about. you may have noticed i have quit tagging these posts as unschooling posts, now that quinn is attending public school, and that was more to not offend the unschoolers than because i actually think we have changed our approach. we’re still doing our same dance, and i am working hard to make sure public school doesn’t douse those sparks, that love of learning, in my son. still strewing… and i don’t just mean the legos that are all over the floor. they are… because we were building empires, with mixed up characters from every set, and fortresses, and vehicles. i am amazed at his abilities with them. as for me, quinn showed me that he knows how to find something positive to say, even when it’s hard to find a feature to compliment. “mama, your lego vehicle is very… large!”

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karate practice: universal set 2

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lunar eclipse right before bedtime (he didn’t see all of these, but he did see the first part, in total eclipse.)

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sunset walks with sticks are always a learning experience.

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quinn’s glasses were on their last legs this month, and so we superglued them and went in for his annual eye exam. in between telling the optometrist jokes, quinn revealed (and it was the first i had heard of it) that he had been playing football at recess. “it’s kind of hard on my glasses because i don’t really know how to play, so i keep ending up at the bottom of the pile,” he said.

“i’m more of a baseball guy.”

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dungeons and dragons; addition with carrying, multiplication, storytelling, strategy, reading, reference book use… the learning opportunities in this game are endless, and quite enriching.


cursive; since it is no longer taught in our public schools, quinn has continued working in the handwriting-without-tears cursive workbook he started last year at ols. he likes doing it, his handwriting is very legible, and the curriculum includes games, which is even better when it comes to quinn. pictured here, he is playing a game of pencils up-and-down, where i tell him to close his eyes, and he practices whatever word his pencil lands on. sounds silly, but it seems like a game kids really enjoy, and they end up practicing all of the words in the end. (this could be used with any assignment that is a little bit boring but doesn’t need to be completed in a specific order.)

if you’re interested in reading about the scientific evidence for the benefits of learning cursive handwriting, this new york times article is a good place to start. here’s a taste:

In dysgraphia, a condition where the ability to write is impaired, sometimes after brain injury, the deficit can take on a curious form: In some people, cursive writing remains relatively unimpaired, while in others, printing does.

In alexia, or impaired reading ability, some individuals who are unable to process print can still read cursive, and vice versa — suggesting that the two writing modes activate separate brain networks and engage more cognitive resources than would be the case with a single approach.

Dr. Berninger goes so far as to suggest that cursive writing may train self-control ability in a way that other modes of writing do not, and some researchers argue that it may even be a path to treating dyslexia.

so, you know, if you think engaging more cognitive resources and training self-control is for you….


for a few months, my work schedule has had me at work until 4:30 to make sure the fish are fed and tucked in for the night. we have finished that phase of research as i write this, but while that was going on, i would pick quinn up from school and he’d spend the last hour of my day hanging out in my office. he would often listen to sparkle stories on his headphones and do some chosen work. one day (october 8th, to be exact) he had a day off from school while i needed to work, so he spent the whole day with me there, and before the day began, we made up the schedule above. he held to it religiously, setting a timer for each 30 minute period and transitioning accordingly. we ate our lunch out in the salt marsh together. i was always exposed to both my parents’ occupations as a kid, and i like that quinn gets to see me doing what i do. i know it’s not feasible for all parents, for example, i imagine that rich’s kids didn’t get to watch him welding fishing boats – i’ve never actually seen him weld, i just take his word for it that it’s what he does all day. at the fish lab, there are a few tasks here and there quinn can help with, and occasionally he gets to feed the fish, which he loves.

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last list item: feed fish/karate. quinn  has earned 2 black tips on his orange belt!


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cooking tacos: quinn brought home a time for kids magazine from school, and read every scrap of it. he found a recipe for tacos in it, and decided he’d like to make the recipe. suddenly, my kid eats tacos!

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the proud taco chef

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other cooking highlights: he baked another apple pie (he can almost do this independently now…) and “decorated” his pizza. definitely an uptick in the kitchen involvement lately.

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apple cider local family gathering: this was quinn testing out some new curious chef  knives (intended for kids who want to help in the kitchen) that i found at fred meyer… he could cut through apples with them well, but our apple/peanut butter/candy corn mouths did not turn out like the ones we saw on pinterest (speaking of using screens as a tool, and not being used by them, i stay far away from pinterest other than the results that come up in google searches i specifically enter for specific projects). 😉 quinn helped with chopping an apple or two at the cider fest, but mostly he mingled with kids and instigated a game of pokemon monopoly, which was the perfect thing for him to be doing.

he also got cornered at one point by a couple of the kids who wanted him to take them upstairs, where they weren’t supposed to be playing, and because he wouldn’t take them, they called him a scaredy cat. i heard about it later, and when i checked in with him, his face fell and i could tell it had really bugged him. he told me what had happened, and i asked if he had decided not to take them upstairs because he knew it wasn’t right, and he said yes. so i told him, it seemed to me, that far from being a scaredy cat, he was actually pretty brave, because it takes a lot of courage to stand up to friends. that seemed to change his whole demeanor, and he relaxed and smiled.

other posts you may enjoy:

~rainbow mondays~


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can you see the rainbow behind quinn? it’s very faint, but it’s totally there.

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how about now? this week’s rainbow monday is dominated by pictures from wilderness wednesday, otherwise known as veteran’s day, which quinn and i spent together.

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orange: hard to see any orange, but the little newt peeking out from under quinn’s leaf house has bright orange toes and belly.

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orange: some of the colorful fungus among us on wednesday

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yellow: another little forest of mushrooms

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yellow: smack in the middle of exactly 35 frames of eagle pictures i took, a hummingbird came and perched right beside us.

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green: and then it perched, backlit, on the other side of us, before it flew off.

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green: it was this magical kind of day. (cue the eagle montage, soundtrack: come and get your love)

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(alternate title: me when rich gets home from work)

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blue: can you  believe that sky?!?! what a gorgeous day to be alive.

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blue: back on the coast, the pelicans are still hanging out. i think they are usually headed south by now?

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blue: a photo i forgot to post weeks ago, of a cool bench i sat on to talk to my bff on the phone.

we’ll have to live without the reds and purples this week… but we do have some bonus colors:

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brown: at first i thought this squirrel was just another type of fungus growing on the side of the tree.

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black and white: more kitty cuteness. kitty balls once again in yin and yang formation. professional nap takers.


~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: the color of a cider gathering with friends. (the accompanying smell, i wish there was a way to transmit electronically as well.)


orange: kitty communion

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yellow: yucca in the rain

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green: watching the ocean on a sunny day with my sweetie

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blue: more waves, and a lone whale.

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blue: this cute pokemon named kyogre who showed up at my house on friday morning.

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purple-pink: sunrise

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purple: cool plant along the roadside the day i talked to my bff for an hour on the phone, while carrying my camera. (self care in oregon fall/winter, like clothing, should be used in layers.)


~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:

thoughts from the other side of the world

the main event on our trip to new york in august was my beloved older brother’s wedding to my beloved sister in law. she’s been in the family since she was still in high school, so it’s not like it was a big surprise or really changed anything, not really. and yet, it was such a wonderful time of celebration, of acknowledging how far the two of them have come on their journey together. weddings make me think, and theirs in particular was a great example, of how wendell berry conceptualizes marriage as an act of community:

“Lovers must not, like usurers, live for themselves alone. They must finally turn from their gaze at one another back toward the community. If they had only themselves to consider, lovers would not need to marry, but they must think of others and of other things. They say their vows to the community as much as to one another, and the community gathers around them to hear and to wish them well, on their behalf and its own. It gathers around them because it understands how necessary, how joyful, and how fearful this joining is. These lovers, pledging themselves to one another “until death,” are giving themselves away, and they are joined by this as no law or contract could join them. Lovers, then, “die” into their union with one another as a soul “dies” into its union with God. And so here, at the very heart of community life, we find not something to sell as in the public market but this momentous giving. If the community cannot protect this giving, it can protect nothing…”

~ Wendell Berry, Sex, Economy, Freedom, and Community: Eight Essays

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bro serving cookies to his guests; loved the symbolism of this.

the community that gathered around them on their day was so inspiring, the overwhelming majority of whom were the “chosen family” kind of friends. i just love them and all the amazing things they do, and have yet to embark on in their new married lives. i love my brother’s tenderness and his raw emotion, which i felt so keenly. there was no stopping the tears from flowing.

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if we lived closer, quinn would take drumming lessons from my bro.

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there are so many other things i’d love to say about them and i would love to post every picture i took at their wedding, but it is their story to tell.

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(and bandit’s story, too.)

“can i sail through the changing ocean tides, can i handle the seasons of my life?” ~stevie nicks

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i wish that by letting this little stone of a post roll around in the tides of my mind for several months, that it would have become polished and smooth and well-articulated by now, but that is not the case.

i know that one of the things keeping me from posting about our trip was that i really struggled with myself a bit during the trip, and i’ve been trying to understand that better as i type and delete, type and delete. i kept feeling like i was the mean girl from out of town who swooped in, laid down the law, and left just as quickly as she came. i felt like i was bossy with my mom, preachy with my sister in law, and flaunted my way of parenting with my nephews. but i also think my self-judgment is partly a cover-up for my concern for my mom and her health.

if i write about that, i kind of have no choice but to face it.

so maybe if i didn’t write about it for a while….

mom’s health issues are not new, and reach back at least as far as when i was in high school, when i remember her seeing many doctors who took years to figure out just which panel of auto-immune disorders she suffers from – again, someone else’s story to tell. but i will say a few things, because i think she won’t mind. one is that the list has grown over the years, until last year they officially declared multiple sclerosis to have made her list. this past spring, she spent a few nights in the hospital during a flare up of her symptoms, and she has fallen a couple of times in 2015. she and dad have moved out of the second floor of the house, so their bedroom is where the living room used to be, and things have shifted around a bit. in addition, my younger brother and sister-in-law, and luigi and mario  and their four cats have moved into the upstairs, in a mutually beneficial multi-generational household arrangement, where the middle generation gets to clean the litter boxes and the elder generation gets to have kitties sleeping on their laps without any added pet chores.

leave it to me to waltz in and point out all the things that still have not been done to make my mom safer in her own home. partly, i think i was simply a fresh pair of eyes seeing what was already on some of their radars. since i’m not living there anymore, i noticed things like overly nested pie plates and salad bowls that put a tax on my own hands, much less my mom’s hands, which are known to suffer from weakness and fatigue. after a close call on the cellar stairs, the site of one of her earlier falls this year, some of the “advice” i felt i needed to give was even more direct, including telling my mom that NOTHING out the cellar door and down those stairs is worth throwing all the independence away that she still does have. she was a good sport, confessing the areas that stress her out (not being able to finish making dinner if an ingredient she needs is downstairs) and hearing me out on every wacky solution i proposed (keeping a backup frozen casserole in the upstairs freezer). when i enforced her using her cane for the wedding, i tried to do it in an appealing way… i added flowers and ribbon to coordinate with her dress. she put up with me really, really well, considering how overbearing i was.


my bff came up with the idea of reinforcing “good behavior” on my mom’s part, i.e. lack of risk-taking behavior, and she offered to buy a bar of my mom’s handmade soap each time; then we got really crazy and envisioned a crowd-funding campaign: remodel ma rew’s kitchen for accessibility to every pie plate and mixing bowl and cast iron pan and soap-making supply she needs without excessive nesting. you get a bar of soap for every 10 bucks you donate. i am still thinking about implementing this.


mom said one of the best changes was placing a small trash can in the kitchen (for a long time, the trash has been out that door on the cellar landing. one of my rants was to bring it to everyone’s attention that trash outside the door is no longer needed because, for years now, we no longer have a dog who gets into it. see? i was no fun to be around at all.

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my beautiful mom <3

i also felt like mean aunt mary beth some of the time with my nephews, though they were very forgiving, and kept coming back for more.

the quote of the week award would have to go to my nephew luigi:

“aunt mary beth, why didn’t you ever grow any boobies?”

i had to laugh, and answer politely about how everyone’s body is different, but part of me always hears princess bride quotes in my head and wants to answer, “there’s is a shortage of perfect breasts in this world.” another quote from the best movie ever has been on repeat as i’ve been tending fish in the lab, and once in a while scooping dead fish out of the tanks; though some of them turn out to be only mostly dead and upon scooping, they swim away. “turns out your friend here is only mostly dead. there’s a big difference between mostly dead and all dead.” and anyway, i have a pretty good sense of humor about my very small breasts (and dead fish). one farmer’s market morning, i was tasked with setting up “melon island” in the middle of our farm booth and had several pallets of melons to transform into a manageable display before the market opened. the rest of the crew kept having to step around these bulky totes and at one point i commented, “oh yeah, you know, my melons are always getting in peoples’ way. story of my life.”


i had some nice moments with each of my nephews, making them double decker sandwiches, personal peach pies, and banana pancakes, as well as administering several peace bench arbitrations. even though they were yucky pancakes (“i don’t like them with bananas; i only like big pancakes, not little ones; that one is burned”) the first few times i tried to serve them, they eventually got gobbled up. and even though the peace bench was needed because there were cousin squabbles over legos and game rules, i encouraged the boys by telling them i could tell they were so committed to solving their conflicts because they were spending so much time on the peace bench finding a solution, and that could only mean they love each other a lot.

quinn has had a couple of years of peace bench practice at ols, and he really impressed me with his calm, cool, collected approach. he calmly sat down, stayed quiet while his cousin told me “what happened” from his side (that’s step one; state the facts – no blame or judgment, just what actually happened from your perspective) and then rattled off possible solutions, “share, trade, or take turns!” with a smile. we worked on steps 2 through 4 as well, for those keeping score at home and wanting to use a similar method, it’s directly from the non-violent communication approach of marshall rosenberg. step one: observations, step 2: feelings, step 3: needs, and step 4: requests.

it was striking, once again, to see how distance-defyingly close the cousins could be, my sibling’s children and my own child. it brought back my childhood in certain ways, and quinn’s younger childhood in others (such as mario’s cheeks that you can still see from behind, like when quinn was a bit younger-so squishable). this does not mean they are clones, their personalities couldn’t be more different and complementary, as evidenced by the personality test of ice cream sprinkles:

quinn: ever careful, he wants sprinkles, and it is important to him to pour them himself painstakingly, keeping the next customer waiting as long as it takes.

mario: wants a lot of sprinkles!!! and wants someone to pour for him so he doesn’t spill them.

luigi: dump!

mario had gotten all dirty playing in a giant dirt pile (as you do on the farm…) and had taken off his dirt-covered overalls and then he didn’t want to put pants on because he was hot. then he and luigi got into a battle of trying to fart on each other…. and quinn was kind of stuck in the middle of it and was laughing but i could also see a look on his face of “ew stop!” so i stepped in and just as i did it was escalating to “i’m gonna take off your underwear!” threats and i felt my limit reached. i broke it down: “who can tell me who is allowed to take off your underwear?” and quinn, as if on cue, said, “me!”

as i was providing this information to the boys, luigi covered his ears and chanted “i can’t hear you!” mario turned to me and said, “it’s not true, he really can hear you.” then he sighed and turned to his brother: “the fact that you’re saying you can’t hear her just proves that you can hear her!”

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quinn was so sad on the last night before we left new york. he was also overtired because we let him stay up late, but then while putting him to bed, he was inconsolable. he moaned about norman the worm and how it wasn’t fair that he would have to never see him again, and was norman going to stand any sort of chance at a happy life? and then he switched to downright angry and told me if i didn’t find a way to take him to new york once every month, or stood in his way of doing that on his own, then he was going to come to new york two times every month. “that’s 24 times in one year!” he informed me, not one to sacrifice math accuracy in times of distress. it was hard to take this as a threat, with my own inner process over leaving right there with his in the denial/anger/bargaining stages, and finally he let me help give a name to the sadness he was feeling, the raging ocean settled into the container i provided, and he calmed down and went to sleep.

he is growing more and more of a sense of self, which is hard to describe in concrete terms, but he has his own way of walking through the world, and when i look at him i can see that he’s confident. he’s not concerned if he is cool by others’ standards, but he wants to be quull (the word he created for the coolness of quinn; which he likes because it starts with q and has two pairs double letters). he is 8 quintillion different things (a number he particularly likes). he is full of surprises, and full of things so unique to him, all rolled into one huggable boy.

he lets me, no, wants me to, walk him straight up to the door of the school building, hand in hand, then gives me a big hug before he goes in. i remember reading the book hold on to your kids when he was much younger, which emphasized the importance of parents mattering more than peers, and i find little things from that book coming back to mind as our time together becomes more fleeting.i soak up those extra minutes just before i release him into the wide world of school, and even though he doesn’t get to finish the whole conversation about the science experiment they did yesterday in class with paper towel strips and blue and yellow water, i try to savor those seconds, and the air we breathe together on our one minute walks, hand in hand, up to the door. he is still so young, but i feel like i have had a pretty good amount of influence in the years leading up to this one. i compare right now to two years ago, and imagine if i had not fought for an alternative to public school for him. he would have been so much more likely to flounder, be labeled, be bullied, not speak up for himself. a fledgling pushed out of the nest too soon.

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it seems he was ready to fledge this year. i still don’t have a lot of love for the public education option in general, nor am i convinced it is the best option for him, nor do i feel great about being so uninvolved in his education. maybe love will grow in time. i am volunteering in his classroom as the “science fair mentor” so i can even have an idea what is going on there in the institution, and we are keeping up on things at home that he is no longer learning at school, like cursive. but i do see evidence, from the boy who comes home to me 50 % of the school afternoons of his life, that he is soaring, he took off right at the right time for his needs for a wider sky to fly around in.

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two years ago, i can’t picture feeling this much at ease (him or me), as he went off to school. i think he would have had a death grip on my hand, with a serious battle each day to convince him to let go. i remember him early on at ols telling his teacher he was “hungry to play”; and now, although he hasn’t said it in so many words, he is seemingly hungry to learn. he was relieved when “walk to reading” and “walk to math” began, and he got to go off with fourth and fifth graders to learn things at his level (”i don’t really like being taught things i already know,” he told me). he came home one weekend and spent the weekend deeply engrossed in learning computer programming on khan academy. you know, a little basic animation using variables in javascript, no biggie. the better to design new games with, my dear.



the next weekend that he was with me, we played dungeons and dragons all weekend; and when i say all weekend, i think i put in about 12 hours of time on the game, all told. i don’t often have such days where i can really give him my undivided attention, so i took advantage of it when i did. it was well worth it, because i got to meet a 189 year old man dungeon master alter ego of quinn inside the story/adventure/quest; his british accent is impeccable, and he has the old man mannerisms down perfectly. i can’t wait to enroll him in theater camp next summer. in the meantime, he is pretty fun to slay goblins with on a faraway island with a hidden cave under the sea lion rocks.





my elf alter ego, oceanika, and her dragon friend opalonyx.

the next monday morning i pull bits of faintly bluish paper towel out of my sweater sleeve that have snuck into his pocket at school because of wanting to show me the results of the science experiment, and then snuck out of the pocket to mingle with other laundry. he is not at home, and seeing this parenting glass as 50% full is back to being a serious discipline of focusing on gratitude for the time i do have with him, instead of focusing on just how empty it is without him around as i’m not driving him to school or waking him up to eat pancakes.

i had a teensy breakdown on the last full day we were in new york. i was trying to pack up some things to ship out, and kept hitting stupid snags, and it took me so much longer than i wanted it to, which was so frustrating because i wanted to spend quality time with everyone on our last day, but also because i was judging myself for how i behaved the whole week. i was crying by the end of the morning, and just sort of falling apart. then rich drove me to the post office and i got calmed down again. just like i would do later that night for quinn, he handed me a container for all i was feeling, and it stopped being quite so overwhelming.

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i have the ultimate luck of getting to spend my days with this guy. it makes it pretty hard to mope for very long, even when i am missing my kid.

we thank our stars all the time that we have not known each other since i was in high school. to everything there is a season, and we met at just the right season in both our lives. some of the times would have been completely wrong (his extreme party phase coincided with my extremely conservative good girl phase) and others would have been downright criminal (i was 12 when he was 20…) so we laugh hysterically about those whenever someone names a year (1983; haha you could have been my babysitter, honey! or better yet, 1985, given all of the current back-to-the-future-day hype: me in second grade, him about to have a son!) and move on with our present-day bliss.

he’s one reason i think maybe, impossible as it seems, i may be able to “handle the seasons” of this stage, and the next 99 years of stages, of my life.

we recently dined at one of our favorite local spots, and when we walked in and sat at the bar, our friend/bartender told us the happy hour specials, and my brain thought, “margarita,” but i didn’t say it out loud. then rich said, “i’m thinking about a margarita.” i don’t think we have ever even had margaritas together besides one time with his sister and niece in oklahoma. it’s not only on superficial things like fun adult beverages that we are this in synch, it’s like a really common experience while spending my life beside this wonderful man, but i still get the good chills every time it happens.

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it’s the infinitesimally small likelihood of two swallowtail butterflies finding each other before they are shredded by the elements, or the journey, or both, in this wide world of pesticide-drenched field-deserts and treacherous 4-lane highways and walmart parking lots to cross. then multiply that by 8 quintillion times less likely, and you would be describing the statistical luck of the two of us.

we get to be together, against all odds. and i like that.

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other posts you may enjoy:

~rainbow mondays~

“Humankind has not woven the web of life. We are but one thread within it. Whatever we do to the web, we do to ourselves. All things are bound together. All things connect.”

~Chief Seattle

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rainbow webs this week. apologies to friends who do not appreciate spiders; i left the spiders out of the post today, but the webs are too pretty not to include!

while we’re on the subject of rainbows and chief seattle…

“When the Earth is sick, the animals will begin to disappear, when that happens, The Warriors of the Rainbow will come to save them.”

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purple, purple and purple. just the way i like my rainbows.


~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 or two in the life of a lifelong learner

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two months fly by quickly when they are august and september… one minute you’re camping on the river, playing baseball and pokemon and dungeons and dragons, and the next minute you’re in new york visiting family, then whammo! school starts. whew! time for a lifelong learning check-in at last!

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one minute you’re a yellow belt, the next minute the belt is orange.

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thank goodness for relaxing days, playing with friends.

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thank goodness for flexible jobs where kids are not shunned. here is quinn dissecting a salmon; something he refused to even watch during our living school… however, he has now removed his very first pair of otoliths, so i think he’s got it in him after all. oh, and that thing in the jar is its stomach.

in vocabulary, i have heard quinn use words such as loopholes, shall and perish. we also had a great discussion of when to use less vs. fewer in describing quantities (of continuous amounts vs. discrete, countable units).

“when you yawn, it puts electric needles in your balloon and pops it.” (quinn, on the subject of popping your ears while driving up and down hills 8-17-15)


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also while he hangs out at work with me, quinn gets some reading done and listens to a lot of sparkle stories. a few recent favorite chapter books checked out of the library:

winter turning by tui sutherland, book 6 in the wings of fire series

spirit animals, a series written by multiple authors; first book is wild born, by brandon mull (he made up his own activity of listing the various possible spirit animals mentioned in the book, and picked up the skill of skimming back through passages he had already read for key words, and also worked on creating a game based on the book.) speaking of vocabulary, we just had another great conversation about “redoubled” and “abated.”

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when it was time to head off to new york for his uncle’s (my brother’s) wedding, our first stop was to see rich’s daughter and her boyfriend before we hit the airport. a quick game of pokemon and a lesson in paintball later…


my good little traveler, rolling his r2-d2 suitcase through the airport, flashlight the bear tucked under his arm.


i got him a few fun distractions for the plane, including some pokemon cards and a set of ionix, a brand of lego-compatible bricks that have how to train your dragon themed sets…

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and we made it to grammy and grampy’s house at last. legos galore, room to run around, and garfield books aplenty to read.



any time we helped with wedding set up, quinn and cousins took a dip in my brother’s pool afterwards.

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then climbed out and turned into penguin eggs.



q got to learn some new video game systems, and played mario on the wii for the first time. then he proceeded to draw new mario, the game, levels for mario, the boy.

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the cousins were very helpful in wedding preparations. quinn sorted out all the pieces and fasteners for a bench swing that needed to be assembled, and read the instructions. the boys all carried coolers and chairs, wielding wheelbarrows and wagons to transport them across the backyard.

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with plenty of time left for running around and eating pizza.



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the day of the wedding, my dad decided he had better disc his field, and the boys each got to ride with him a few times around the field.

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then the farmers all jumped in the shower and got all spruced up for a wedding.


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i think quinn’s experience of the wedding would probably center around all the food, including corn on the cob, yummy chicken and potatoes, and pasta salad, as well as amazing cookies and an ice cream sundae made with a scoop each of strawberry and black raspberry ice cream. there was also a ton of great music, a handful of kids to run around with, and lots of space for a guy who likes to go off on his own and sort through his pokemon cards.


the crew was hired back for wedding take-down the next day.

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then they switched gears to helping harvest the apple crop!

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peach pie was consumed. the sandbox was frequented.

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grampy and quinn took the whole family up in the field for a bonfire.

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quinn spent some special quality time with each uncle. uncle t offered to actually play a round of pokemon with quinn so he (the uncle) could learn the rules, and uncle b showed q his game cube and the game animal crossing. quinn thoroughly enjoyed both of these bonding experiences.

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another day, another apple gathering wagon ride. this was more of a research expedition for grammy to discover what later-season apple varieties would be ripening in the next month. she has identified some really obscure and rare old varieties!

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we met norman, an inchworm, who hitched a ride on quinn. (and it was norman’s name, more than anyone else’s, that quinn mentioned missing on the last night before we left new york, and he was sad about it. i think that was one lucky worm, to find such a good friend.)


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several nights found quinn spending time watching the mets play baseball alongside grammy and grampy, and i noticed that on the nights we popped popcorn for a light dinner, quinn opted to take his bowl out to the porch “to watch some baseball with grampy,” rather than sit at the table.

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although i waited all week, camera poised, for “the” annual picture of the boys walking together to happen organically, it did not, and so we went outside in the dark on the last night and contrived the shot as best we could.


jump! then we took some other crazy photos, while we were awake past bedtime and playing in the dark.


…and this is what quinn looked like when we pulled into the driveway of the vacation house the next day, crashed out on his pokemon binder in the back seat of the truck.

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… and whoooosh! this is what he looked like on his first day of third grade.

i believe i may have more words and fewer pictures this year, when it comes to the learning that happens to take place at school.

we went to “back to school night” the week before school started, the day after we got home from new york, which is when we found out who his teacher would be and he could bring in school supplies, see his classroom, and so on. his teacher taught at the same school where my after school program was, and he was one of the only teachers who spoke with me, and was supportive of what i was doing. i had a couple of his 4th graders. then he transferred to the school q is going to now, to teach 3rd grade last year. he used to bring his dog to class, his wife is a retired teacher and she would teach right alongside him, so two teachers for one class. he has a guitar in his room. i can’t see him tolerating bullying or teasing. all the kids love him and respect him and want to hug him. i think there is definitely potential for a positive teacher-student relationship.

he was at his dad’s on the first day of school, and dad wanted him to ride the bus that morning, but also thought it was a good idea for me to meet him to walk him in to his classroom, as a lot of parents walk kids in on the first day (they make a point to tell you it’s the only day it’s allowed.)

he got off smiling and saw me and we walked into the school and the whole world was in the cafeteria with their parents, so it was standing room only. so we stood there, and he kept spotting kids he knew from ols, and everyone he saw smiled and waved or said hi if they were close enough. he saw his teacher and said hello, held my hand but didn’t seem clingy. and then the bell rang, and he seemed like he knew what to do and we walked to his class, and sitting at the desk across from his was a girl from karate who he gets along with, and so that was a nice surprise, and they said hi to each other. he put his stuff on his hook, and in his desk, and i said okay have fun and he said okay bye, and i snapped that picture and left.

that night the bus took so long getting him back to his dad’s that i got a text as i pulled up to karate with only 5 minutes until class saying “still waiting for the bus.” i ended up driving to the school to make sure he didn’t get taken back there, and i knew his dad couldn’t call because the bus stop is out of cell range. i was just one of several parents there just before 5:00 pm asking where their kids were. they explained the buses were way behind schedule with all the changes to the school system this year (there was much reconfiguring).

on wednesday, the second day of school, all was going well until 12:17 (after i got finished dissecting 104 fish in one morning) when his dad texted me that it was not early release after all (every wednesday the schools all dismiss students an hour early because they literally can’t afford to keep the lights on) and asked if i would pick quinn up. i emailed the school because that is a “change of plans” and they have to hear from a parent by 1:00. so i emailed and asked to verify if i needed to pick up at 3 (i tell them he can’t bus at 3 or he will miss karate, and that i will pick him up as a “escorted walker” based on info i received third-hand that “parent pick up” is at one door and “walker” is where you can park and that is easier, not driving through the hamster wheel. so i specify “escorted walker” and they get back to me right away saying actually it’s only the busers who go at 3:05, everyone else is still early release, so i need to come at 2:05. so once that was all sorted out, i let them know quinn would have no idea of this change, and that he would need to be guided through it. (in all the reconfiguring, the playing field was leveled in some ways, in that new kids don’t stand out, but then, when someone is new, they can also fall through the cracks…)

so i went at 2:05 and all the walkers came out, and quinn didn’t come out. so i went up to the walker door, and talked to the teacher there, and another teacher went to try to locate quinn. it took them 40 minutes to determine that q had been taken instead to the parent pick up door. (they sent him a note to his class, and he heard “line up for parent pick up” and NO ONE EXPLAINED it to him so he was in the wrong line. so, they got him back to me finally and then i walked him out the walker door so he knew where to go in the future if jim or i is picking him up, and explained about saying he is a walker, instead of a parent pick up, and it was all fine. i handed in my volunteer parent paperwork too, and i think the staff like me in spite of seeing way more of me than they probably wanted to on days one and two.

so far, the biggest challenge is all the coded language. when the bus brought him back to his dad late that first day, the bus driver demanded of quinn, “who’s your ride?” while his dad stood at the door of the bus saying “he’s with me,” trying to help but not realizing they can’t accept the answer from the adult, and q didn’t even understand the question. i don’t blame him, as the question was not even being asked in english. “who is picking you up” might have worked, but “who’s your ride” is a question q has never been asked, and wouldn’t know why he was being asked.  i guess learning the local vernacular and institutional code is part of joining the so-called “real world.” like knowing how to tell people, “my mom doesn’t want to drive through the hamster wheel, so i am a walker, not a parent pick up.” anyway, we’re getting the hang of it. i’m laughing and keeping a sense of humor about it, slightly snarkily.

after the first day of school, his dad said he seemed upbeat and happy about the day and not phased at all about the extra long bus ride. it’s not as if he has a reference to compare to. when asked if it felt like it was long, quinn said, “i watched generations of kids get off this bus before me!” that kid and his poetry. quinn also reported to his dad about sitting across from his karate friend, saying, “i look at her face all day, and she looks at my face all day.”

overall, quinn in general answers “good” about his days, but if pressed on the matter, will not agree that his day was awesome or wonderful, “just good.” but also not terrible. he comments that he doesn’t like being taught things he already knows. helping with that, he is now doing “walk to read” and “walk to math” each day, in which he commingles with 4th and 5th graders to get a little more challenged at his level. he is taking so much in stride that would have been so much bigger a deal two years ago… things like heading to a new classroom twice a day. i asked if anyone from his homeroom goes to math or reading with him, and he said, “no, but i am glad about that, because it means i get to have whole new groups of friends.”

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the weekend after his first week of school, quinn and i spent a lot of time together, baking two pies. i made the pie dough, but he did every other step of the process, from picking and peeling, to rolling and filling, to folding and forking.


i miss looking at his face all day.

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karate remains quite a passion for him. he has started wearing a stretchy headband to keep his hair out of his eyes, which he intends to grow long like my hair.

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back in the classroom of life, quinn spent a good ten minutes studying the filling of the brita filter pitcher. he added a little, poured a little, until he found the exact maximum amount of water that could be filtered through without leaving any water in the top chamber. i think some top notch science experimenting was done that day, and one satisfied young mind answered a question for himself. it is my hope that nothing that happens in the institution will dampen that curiosity and enthusiastic drive to learn all he can.

other posts you may enjoy:

~rainbow mondays~

it’s still monday for a few more minutes…

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red: yeah, that is a tiny bride and groom in the distance, it’s almost like they are part of his thought bubble. had a beautiful walk on the beach on sunday with this handsome guy. look at that beard he is growing. hot!

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orange: algae on the beach rocks

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yellow: my sweet saturday market gig was looking particularly picturesque this weekend.

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green: it was the greenest of the beach photos, but this post is predominantly blue. this is my ruby, i am her lucky fairy dog mother. she is responsible for taking us to the beach, and i presume for calling the whales in close to see us.

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green-blue: kelp in the breakers

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blue: whales. actually, they were gray whales. but the ocean was such a pretty blue that day! these were the best mediocre whale evidence photos i could muster, but what a delight to see seven of them, right from the beach.

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purple: the predominant color in my vegetable palette this weekend. and yes i meant to spell it palette, in the sense that i get to paint with vegetables. but also, they do come stacked on a pallet, before i turn them into a rainbow waterfall of antioxidants.


~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: