rainbow veggies again! i never get tired of lining up beautiful produce in rainbow order.
red: chioggia beets just before i juiced them yesterday.
orange: dragon from a poke-walk with quinn. he traded me the phone for my camera so he could take some photos of it, too!
orange: i took a few hours off last wednesday morning so quinn and i could take advantage of $5 wednesdays at the aquarium. we actually did look at the animals, not only the abundant pokemon available for capture.
yellow: pikachu lives in a yellow submarine!
yellow: what to do with an organic yellow watermelon that was dropped on the ground: put the pieces in the blender and freeze them, then put the ice cubes back in the blender with liquid of your choice to make a fun blended drink. we liked it with ginger vodka, and i plan to try some with juice when i get a chance to make one for quinn.
yellow: tattered traveler
green: at the otter feeding.
green: made some more fun summer memories with friends having a random thursday evening backyard campout.
blue: beautiful objects hanging around at the clay studio where i have now thrown and trimmed my first bowl… it should be fired by now, i’m very excited to glaze it!
blue: i think i like this glaze!
blue: sometimes i go for walks to incubate quinn’s poke eggs while i’m at work. it makes me feel like i walk on water as a mama (actually i was only walking in the mud flats on a very low tide, but thought the image was kind of funny.)
blue: between karate camp and karate classes last week, we had some fun poke bonding moments. squirtle being held by a cute ninja here.
blue: seal window!
purple: lots of dollars, we are so wealthy to live where we do!
i’m going to report on a 6 week time period of learning because my regular month ended right in between the first and second week of theatre camp, and it seemed more reasonable to report on the whole camp situation in one post. who knows when i will get around to posting about the next month, anyway! it’s a busy summer of learning….
quinn’s belt test! i was watching ben harper that night (doh! when new year’s resolutions get in the way of being there for your kiddo… alas, we had bought the tickets before the belt test was even on our scheduling radar…) it was a dad week, so thankfully he took a video of the test for me. and you!
congratulations to our blue belt!
this season of learning has been dominated by various camping experiences. quinn spent a week with his dad at crane prairie reservoir, their summer fishing spot. quinn showed off his boat, frog, to me, as i was dropping him off with his dad to head out camping. quinn got to help a lot with the fixing up of his boat, including climbing under the bow to connect the wiring for the running lights (which he is hugging here), as well as wiring up the turn signals on the trailer.
as soon as he was back from camping with dad, we headed off on another camping trip…. our annual family fourth of july tradition.
quinn and the big kids… pokemon, capture the flag, phase 10, and creek hikes!
guarding his team’s flag
quinn and the little kids… helping with balancing on the tight rope, holding hands for creek crossings, cuddling babies, organizing “what time is it mr. fox” games, pushing youngers on the swing, and blowing bubbles for little girls to chase.
also catching the raft full of littles before it floated downstream, and hauling back up again to let it go floating gently down the stream once more.
writing on pavement with sparklers!
reading comics, building kabobs, eating crab legs, touching steelhead eyeballs!
thinking deep thoughts…
taking time for himself…
summer has been so refreshing after a full year of public school. i have been stewing on a post for a while (since before the camping trip) concerning schooling and research i have been doing about kids like quinn and how to make their learning experience as positive as possible. when i do get it written, it will explain why summer unstructured learning time is so important to a kid like this one. hurray for camping fun and learning!
back at home, we resumed karate and quinn and i practiced side by side during one open mat class. as we were stretching, he went into a perfect pigeon pose, my very favorite yoga pose, one that happens to be a rather extreme hip stretch. i asked him how he learned it, and he told me it was something he came up with on his own in order to stretch “right here” (pointing to his outer hip – loving his awareness!).
i also witnessed a recent instance of quinn getting into crow pose (a yoga arm balance) in his room… in an august post from 3 years ago i referred to quinn doing spontaneous yoga poses, in this seasonally appropriate quote about unstructured summer learning: “…repressing my urge to plan and schedule quinn’s long list of unfinished projects into completion in the next 2 weeks, and instead letting him spend entire half hours in plow position on the bed, humming star wars theme music and being elsewhere in his mind, no doubt coming up with a dozen more projects to begin.”
albeit much too brief, we got to enjoy some ruby time!
i managed to complete one home improvement project in our family bathroom, which i’ve decided is going to have a star wars theme… project number 1 in the star wars bathroom was to make quinn a mason jar droid organizer to help him remember his three jobs upon entering the bathroom: brush teeth, wash face, wash hands. bb8 is now waiting to hand him his toothbrush and toothpaste, a washcloth is peeking out of r2d2 to remind him to wash his face, and r3d5 dispenses soap for hand washing. so far it has been helping this absent-minded professor get his “bathroom chores” done with marginally fewer reminders from mama in between each and every step. droids are designed to make life easier for humans, right?
i’m sure it comes as no surprise that quinn is interested in the game pokemon go. observing the incredibly opinionated masses on the subject of this game has been amusing, and we feel like we’re approaching it in a balanced way, letting it be a game, using it as a way to connect not disconnect from each other, making sure our priorities are straight, and keeping our awareness. quinn is of course excited about it and had already heard about it when he came back from his dad’s. i looked into the pros and cons, discussed them with quinn, and then we spent several days trying to get it to work on my phone (his screen name is quulltrex.)
while waiting for the game to start working, quinn spent his afternoons mapping out our entire backyard on graph paper because, as an “ace gamer,” as he called himself, he came up with a plan for us to be able to play the game here in our yard together while the technical difficulties were getting sorted out. i’m sure you’ve heard how the game is getting people outside and walking; it got us doing that without even being able to play the game. (while we were sitting in the grass mapping things out, we found 3 grapevines trying to grow in the lawn!)
once we were able to play the actual game, his first pokemon was caught in the dining room: a bulbasaur. he was pretty stoked.
he assured me we will still do our paper version as well, which hasn’t been played yet, because we’re still measuring the yard and making the map! but when it’s done, we’ll take turns hiding pokemon on the map for the other one to find. “mama, will you please make togepi one of the pokemons that i get to find?” personally, i can’t wait to find suicune, who “embodies the compassion of a pure spring of water. it runs across the land with gracefulness. this pokémon has the power to purify dirty water.” suicune is also purple and green, perfect for me. neither of these favorites are found in the app so far, but we are not limited by such constraints, we have an ace gamer under our roof. we’ve been using graph paper, tape measures, and consulting the survey map of our property ever since this fine learning opportunity presented itself.
in the meantime, there are lots of pokemon to catch by the performing arts center, as opposed to the pokedesert surrounding our extremely rural house, so we had a great way to spend the hour between theatre camp and karate classes while we hung out in town! speaking of…
this was quinn’s first year of theatre camp, and he had a blast.
when i was picking him up from his second day of camp, i was intercepted and told, “i think maybe there might have been a little bit of a meltdown.” cue that sinking feeling… i went inside the auditorium where they were finishing up their day, and the leaders were reminding them to take home their dirty socks, etc. i got to the front after they were all dismissed and quinn was still standing there (most kids had walked out the side door to go get their stuff) and he was talking the ears off two of the high school-aged counselors. he was in a great mood. one of the leaders saw me and came up to talk to me.
the three of us walked into the green room (quinn was proud of showing me he knows his way around behind the scenes) but he tried to tell me, “there isn’t anything we need to talk about, so let’s go.” the leader talked to him directly at first, which i loved, and reminded me of how i talk to kids. she asked him, “how did your day go?” and he said good. she asked, “how was it doing the machines game?” and he said it was fun. his answers were short, and it seemed unlikely that he was going to open up right then and tell me what was up. he seemed like he couldn’t relate to the “feeling frustrated” or “felt unheard” that the leader suggested maybe she wondered if he had felt. the leader turned to me saying basically she walked in on the game and did not see anything out of the ordinary going on. she gave me enough information to know something happened, it wasn’t terribly serious, and i concluded that if i wanted to know more, i would have to piece it together. someone labeled whatever happened as “meltdown” while quinn was telling me absolutely nothing, and i was hearing only a piece of a second-hand account as it was.
i appreciated the leader’s approach. it gave me a chance to mention that i was guessing that if there had been any frustration during a day at theatre camp, it could be amplified by someone not eating his lunch or having any water to drink, and quinn confirmed that he had not, he had eaten 5 blueberries all day out of his lunch and did not touch his water bottle… and i was grateful to pass this bit of “forgets to pay attention to self care” knowledge on to someone who might mention nutrition and hydration in his range of hearing over the course of the next few days.
quinn was ready to go, “ok, mama, we’re done talking,” but i requested 2 minutes to check in with the leader, and asked him to wait in the lobby for me. he said no. i offered him my phone’s timer to hold me to the 2 minutes and he wanted to negotiate to one minute. i stayed firm at 2 minutes but said that when the timer got to 30 seconds left, he could start walking back from the lobby to the green room, and he did that. in that brief check-in she asked if there was anything she should know? inside i was kind of at a loss and also kind of freaked out, but i answered that there is nothing that really qualifies as “need to know” but said that he really experiences things intensely, so if he’s frustrated, it can feel like the end of the world to him, while if he’s happy, he can be overjoyed… that most of the time he goes with the flow, but that when he feels strongly he feels s t r o n g l y. i told her that he doesn’t have any labels that fit, but that if he experiences a series of frustrations, and the first few are not resolved, that third one might lead to him having to sit it out for a period of time, because it can really push him over the edge to meltdown. i said he is brilliant, but forgets to drink water, and gets caught up in the amazing fun he’s having. i was getting lots of nods and smiles and could tell she got it. at the same time she was saying she really didn’t see anything that was a big deal, she had walked in after it had already blown over… so maybe he reacted to something, but he didn’t seem to take long to get himself back together, so that was encouraging.
that night as i was processing, i think i hit on something key to unlocking the mystery of why quinn can get stuck like that. he’s really into theatre camp and excited about it. the first night at dinner i asked if he thought he’d continue to do theatre camp next year. he said he would be doing it “all the years.” he was explaining to me how one day he will be one of the older high school kids at which point he can be a counselor, and then when he grows up he can be one of the leaders…. he only talks about his most beloved other activities that way, like karate, where it’s not just about having fun now, it’s also about one day earning a black belt and having his own dojo someday. so i know that means he is going to be intense about this activity. if he’s bummed, he’ll be super bummed. it’s not like school where most of it doesn’t matter to him, so most of it… isn’t intense.
i did not get any further information from quinn while we chatted, though he was quite willing to share about his day with me over dinner again. his favorite thing of that second day was a toss-up between machines and the small group play they put on. he decided the play was his favorite. he told me all the kids and all the counselors who were in it. he said they all came up with the play together, and this was how it went.
it took place in the temple of pans and there were two people and a talking dog. the two people were recruiting other people to join the “unit”. the unit was a group of 3 people who were already attached to one another, whose line was, “we are all one. come and join us.” in unison. quinn was the middle person in the unit, with “ginny weasley” to his right and another girl to his left (i had asked him about “ginny” on day one and he obviously thought my nickname fit, and bothered to learn her actual name the second day as well). the rest of the people would come in one or two at a time, get asked to join, and then they’d join. “joining” looked like this: the people and the unit would exit off stage, stomp their feet and make screaming noises, and then come back on stage as a whole chain with the new people added on to it, all saying the line in monotone unison. after they had recruited and attached everyone to the unit, the talking dog (quinn’s new friend cameron whose name he also established on the second day) told the two temple people that he believed, “we are all beautiful as individuals, we don’t need to all be a blob.” and then the dog broke apart the chain and turned the unit members back into individuals. then the two temple people fled and the rest of everyone celebrated their individuality. (mmm-hmmm, yup, that’s how great theatre camp is. incredibly affirming to the artsy, long-haired, blue-haired, quirky, creative individuals who attend this thing!)
for the machine game, his group was a blender, and i only learned after he told me all about it that choosing a blender as their machine had been quinn’s idea. i’m now wondering if it wasn’t that he felt unheard about that idea, but maybe he then had ideas within the blender idea that weren’t followed and he might have felt like they should have let him be in charge of it… anyway, he didn’t indicate any frustration or anything in the telling. he told me all the people in that group and explained the blender. cameron was the button, and another kid was the person to push the button, and then william was the blade and he spun around like this, and three big kids (the counselors) were joined in a circle to be the container, and then there were kids to be the fruit in the blender. i asked, “and were you fruit?” he smiled, “yeah, how did you know?” hehe because i’m mama. i asked if they had to be on top of william the blade, and he said no, they crawled on the floor in a circle around william and he spun his arms around above them. i told him i could picture it because he described it so well, and i thought that it sounded cool, and by the way, whose idea was it? which is when he told me it had all been his idea.
the bus stop is another classic game they played that day, where two people sit on a bench chatting and being in character, waiting for whatever bus to wherever they’re going, and then one gets up and leaves (gets on the bus) then another person comes and sits down in their empty spot, and it can go on indefinitely with lots of improvisation… i asked quinn how that went for him and he said he was just checking out how that game worked. he did not jump in but just watched, and seemed like he loved just doing that.
i was able to continue chatting with all of the leaders and the counselor who actually witnessed the “moment” the next morning. i love the theatre peeps. i just went into the green room, and the counselors and leaders were all in there so i sat down with them and i just let them know that i had gotten zero info from quinn, so i knew the truth could be found somewhere between the words “meltdown” and “everything seemed fine” but that i still really didn’t know what had happened. the counselor who was in quinn’s blender group happened to be sitting there too, and so i asked if he wanted to tell me what happened. he had been giving quinn some feedback on something, and he could see quinn kind of shut down, and tense up, ball up his fists at his sides, as though fuming but not speaking. the counselor asked him if he was okay and finally quinn responded, “i’m just trying to figure out if i should punch you….” or muttering something along those lines. i thanked him for sharing what had happened, and reiterated that i think quinn is super intense and explained to them all (which was awesome to get to do) that this is up there with karate for him, his intense LOVE for it and how he wants to do it forever and grow up to be a leader, and how i think because of that, and because he is a perfectionist, he might take it hard when he gets feedback. i followed that up with that i WANT him to learn how to handle feedback, i’m glad he is getting to practice having that. one leader commented that it’s great that he processed with words, instead of doing any hitting, and leader number three was saying how intense theatre camp is for everyone, and they all nodded like yup, definitely some tears will be shed, he’s definitely not the only one whose emotions will run high. they were happy to hear that quinn was all about it, and that he felt yesterday went “great!” that he didn’t want to share details wasn’t a big concern for them, they want him to have positive associations with the whole experience and i confirmed that he definitely does.
best of all, the people in the room this morning all know my face now, they know whose mama i am, and they know a little slice of his story and quirks, which is all for the better for his experience. they all expressed that “he’s such a great kid” and shared that he seems thoroughly engaged and having lots of fun. they all know what strategies i talked to him about, mainly that we talked about specific go-to people he could count on to help, and i got to share that he really looks up to them all.
i handed quinn off to his dad for week two of theatre camp, and saw him and heard from him very little all week (except for a text on thursday morning asking what pokemon i had hatched!) but then thursday evening, rich and i got to attend the theatre camp performance, both the 2 and 6 o’clock showings, and got to see what an amazing time he had been having. each group (quinn was in group 5, he told me, though their skit went first in the line-up of the 6 groups), performed skits aligned with the theme of “local legends.” quinn’s group performed “the phantom of the p.a.c.” complete with ghost busters theme music and whole-group running up and down the aisles of the theatre, chasing the ghost.
quinn’s role in the skit went by the name ace, and he informed me “i’m acting the role of an actor who is acting the role of a knight!” he was quite excited about the nested layers of richness in his theatre experience, and sharing with me the play-within-a-play effect they got to perform. i can’t help thinking of one of the great examples of this type of effect in film, a wonderful film whose story-within-a-story is supposedly based on a work of fiction by a non-existent author named s. morgenstern.
it was a thoroughly entertaining skit entitled, “the phantom of the performing arts center” in which the actors are all being bullied by their mean director, who accuses them of causing lots of problems (which are actually being caused by the ghost). quinn’s character, ace, was a “secretive guy” as quinn put it, and had a bodyguard, bobby gar, into whose ear he would whisper whatever he wanted to say to the group. bobby gar would repeat his statements out loud. this happened several times as the group tried to problem solve the haunted p.a.c. situation, including hiring some ghost catching specialists (cue the ghostbusters theme music) and running up and down the aisles of the p.a.c. as a group, until at one point bobby gar says, “hold on! ace has something to say!”
everyone freezes, and ace whispers into bobby’s ear.
bobby announces, “ace says, ‘ahhhhhhh!'” and the running and screaming recommence. (quinn told me about this scene before the play, and was thoroughly tickled to be included in what he considered the funniest part of the skit.)
later on, the director of the play ace is supposed to be rehearsing for is off stage, and the group is considering what to do about the play now that they’ve befriended the ghost, and ace whispers in bobby’s ear. “ace has an idea!”
ace steps forward, and says his line out loud for all to hear: “oh, buttercup cumbersnitch!”
the director storms in, fuming, “what have i told you about using my full name?!” and then promptly sees the ghost and faints. the actors, ghost, and ghost-catchers all celebrate. the end.
beaver bones “discovery”
quinn walked down to the bayou with rich and i one night, and “discovered” for himself (though we had pointed it out to almost no reaction on earlier walks) the beaver skeleton lying on the ground. he decided right then and there that he needed to collect the bones, research how to articulate the skeleton, and start practicing how to do that on this perfectly wonderful specimen. he and i walked up to get a cardboard box and he gathered the bones into it. more to come on this wonderful self-imposed biology lesson in coming months, i’m sure. i have replaced the faulty keyboard on my old laptop, and it is now quinn’s laptop from which he can google all the ways to articulate a beaver skeleton.
we had a wonderful kid’s camp weekend at camp boss’s house. kickball, duck duck goose, zoom boom bocce
put a baby on this boy if you want to distract him from a bad mood.
pokemon go was played both in app format, and in the “redneck” format, as camp boss calls it, of walking around a field catching pretend pokemons by throwing apple pokeballs at them.
we got to spend a few wonderful moments reconnecting with friends passing through town. quinn and his pisces brother were fun to watch, as they simply picked up where they left off. they clearly maintain their mutual affection over time and distance.
quinn has been using air quotes quite a bit lately. it is really amusing me, his little sarcastic side. there is a tracking device in pokemon go, which doesn’t appear to have anything to do with the actual pokemon in the vicinity. quinn refers to it with large air quotes as the “so-called tracking device.”
also worth recording, he said something funny when he was talking about a poke-stop. the one he was referring to was a church, so he was searching his memory for its name, “when we go past the… christian… the episcopal… the church of christ, that’s it.” but it was the way that he said eppi-SCOPE-al that was awesome. i smiled and he asked, “what?” and i said, “episcopal.” and he laughed, “well i read it!” there is a meme about that… something to the effect of not making fun of me for mispronouncing words, because it means i learned them from a book i read! yeah. that would be my kiddo.
and already another six week cycle of karate has passed. i haven’t been taking as many pictures, but i noticed in looking at these few, that quinn has made great strides in some of the body mechanics that he practices at every karate class, such as keeping his elbows tucked in when he does a side kick. (you know, not flailing both arms in random directions when you do your kick.) just the other day, quinn earned his first black tip on his blue belt! it was an interesting day to watch him testing, because i could tell he was really sweating whether he would earn his tip or not, by the expressions on his face. in the rather more difficult blue belt curriculum, there were a few moves he was still a bit unsure about. for one of his techniques (clutching feathers, a self defense move for when someone grabs your long hair) he immediately knew what to do when his teacher actually fake attacked him, though he was drawing a blank when it came to doing it solo. he also needed a reminder on another move, and i could see his concern written all over his face, but then he pulled it together. at the beginning of the class for warm-ups, one of the junior instructors had them do leg lifts, holding their legs off the ground 6 inches (which the instructor did alongside them), and another of the students kept dropping or lifting his legs, resulting in added time for the whole group. quinn was clearly in agony, and at one point a sob actually escaped him, and yet, he persevered and did not quit doing the exercise, in spite of the hardship. (also of note was that he did not lash out at the student who was causing the added seconds.) i think between the grit he showed during his warm up, and his teacher’s acknowledgement of his steady effort and progress (not perfection!), quinn is absorbing wonderful take-home messages from all of his favorite activities these days. it’s wonderful to behold.
happy rainbow monday! let’s celebrate it with lots and lots of flowers, butterflies, cute boys, fruit, veggies, tie dye clotheslines, and other vibrant summer color! it’s no wonder my very first rainbow monday post was written this time of year, with the abundance of color as far as the eye can see.
red: crocosmia at my outlaw’s house.
red: wild strawberries growing in the dunes.
this color defies naming but fits in the spectrum somewhere between red and orange, i feel (except of course for the green undersides; i love green flowers). friends took rich and i out to dinner to celebrate our engagement, and brought us a lovely bouquet of zinnias.
orange: beach photo self care walks have been a thing for me recently.
orange: the professional cuteness committee has taken up this sleeping bag as a new hiding/napping spot.
orange: speaking of tigers…
orange: can you find the butterfly?
orange (and yellow): this sunbleached swallowtail was looking a little the worse for wear, as he fluttered around my mother-out-law’s beautiful garden.
peachy-yellow: sister’s dahlias
yellow: evening primrose watching the sunrise
yellow: another swallowtail with some chunks missing.
yellow: a refreshing cider on a lovely afternoon date with rich in between the 2 and 6 o’clock showings of quinn’s theatre camp performance.
green: kid’s camp at sister’s house with lots of kids and fun!
green (and purple): huckleberries thinking about ripening on a beach walk.
green: estuary self care walk without even a camera, but i did have a phone along.
blue: egg treasure
blue: the mood isn’t blue, just the outfit. he looks intense because he is mapping out the entire backyard in order to make an on-paper version of pokemon go (he plans to hide pokemon on me, and have me hide them on him). there was also a version played at kid’s camp using fallen green apples as pokeballs while walking around a pasture.
blue: estuary jelly
blue: when the mood does get a little blue, just put a baby on it.
purple: beach pea.
purple: the awesomeness that is theatre camp. there will be more words about this in lifelong learning posts…
purple: pretty foliage at outlaw’s.
purple: estuary clams. have a great week, and remember to take care of you in the middle of the busy summer whirlwind!
rainbow farm fresh goodness! i’ve become a bit of a compulsive rainbow-maker….
there were so many rainbows at oregon country fair… just sharing a few, and of course, most of the individual colors in this week’s rainbow are courtesy of fair as well.
rich told me that the rainbow unicorn lights up a night… i’ve never been that motivated to be at fair for the duration, but the way things light up at night does sound mighty intriguing! maybe one of these years…
red: always amazed at how much attention is paid to detail in every corner of fair…
orange: again with the details… layers upon layers of sumptuous fabrics, woven into the tree branches and moss…
orange: yes yes yes!!!!!!!!!!!!
yellow: we visited the buddha statue down by the ritz sauna who ended up wearing my flower crown at the end of last year’s fair.
yellow: vibrant fairy wings!
green: i just love the way the fair has grown in harmony with the forest around it, and is built in such a way that the forest absorbs it back into itself over the decades.
green: dragon eggs!
blue: somehow even an old blue tarp can look amazing, under the right circumstances.
blue: traditional kite train launch at the end of fair, backed by blue sky.
purple: the purple couple, on their way out the gate. headed for happily ever after.
around june 1st we started living in dragon house 2.0, and toasted our new home together with whiskey and cokes and organic peanut butter cups. although we are still finalizing details and sorting out technicalities in anticipation of actually closing the sale, and i hesitate to write much out of superstition, i have been strewing jars full of fake fireflies all around to illuminate it, unpacking one box at a time in stolen bits of time between our many summer activities, wielding a stud finder and hanging things on walls (all the while joking that i myself am a stud finder), and hanging star wars pick up lines on the fridge, for fresh inspiration to share with the one of whom i will never tire of asking, “do you come here often?”
“i must be from alderaan, because you just blew up my world.”
“i can’t believe you’re from an ice planet, because you’re so hoth!”
“care to fly your milennium falcon through my asteroid belt?”
when i used that last one i was met with, “wow, i didn’t know you were into that, honey.” and that was when i, after an awkward delay, realized what it was implying. “you’re such a pain in the asteroid belt,” i responded.
i am building a home with the man of my dreams, and life is so full. we spent a wonderful date weekend seeing a ben harper show at the edgefield, looking at each other as each song started, “oh i love this one!” like… steal my kisses: “i love to feel that warm northwestern rain….” ben substituted for the appropriate geographic region. hearing his new tunes we realized how in sync we are with how content and happy ben seems, from his demeanor to some of his newer lyrics like the song shine…
we shine like a new tattoo
scarred on skin bright as day
across my heart
there is no other way
give me tomorrow
and i’ll give you today
in the end
there is no other way
we are like two roads
that lead to the same place
won’t leave a trace
there is no other way
if you were all i had
i would have it all
sitting around the campfire over the weekend of the fourth, one of the topics i discussed with sister friends, as women will discuss when the men and kids are all tucked into their tents, was wedding ideas (i think maybe there’s a little flat bride in each and every one of us). my joke the past few months has been that i think he is trying to have the shortest engagement on record. we have already spoken about setting a date for next summer 2017 for our wedding, having remained “practically engaged” all the while. i was saying to my girlfriends that i wondered if he was waiting to choose a rock for a ring at his mom and dad’s when we went there in the fall (we plan to go to oklahoma in november after he finishes being in one flew over the cuckoo’s nest in october; i know, isn’t he cool?) but i also told them, the main thing is, i won’t see it coming, he will surprise me and manage to be unpredictable somehow. he is just a mysterious guy and he’s gonna find a way to be mysterious about it. (at the end of the post you can comment on whether i called it!)
i talked to rich on saturday night and figured out when to leave home to get to oregon country fair by 11 on sunday when it would open, and he said to meet outside the gate at the dragon. i was trying to remember exactly where that is, which is hilarious because it’s obvious when you are there, but i get fuzzy after a year goes by. the phone call was all logistics and happy anticipation of seeing each other in the morning, after his annual week away doing his thing. fair was once upon a time an event i associated with hurt and betrayal, but ever since i’ve known rich, and in just the 5 times i have watched him go there, and had him conserve his phone battery for an entire week so that he can call me each and every night, i have gone from nervous reluctant acceptance to joyful anticipation of each year’s fair and the one day i spend there at his side.
ohhhhh, you mean this giant dragon?
everything went smoothly driving there on sunday. i had not really put a lot of thought into my “outfit” this year (last year i went all out, with dragon face paint and a flower crown.) saturday night i finally settled on an ocean theme and paired my fish sarong with my blue ruffly sweater. i wore an abalone shell necklace i’ve had for a long time but haven’t been wearing and finally reclaimed for myself (also because of negative associations i needed to let go of and finally did).
not this dragon. or this one. or this one.
i got my ticket at will call and walked into the area where the dragon is, just inside the fence, but not inside the actual fair entrance yet… oh, duh, that giant dragon, where we end up meeting every single year. looking for rich in his usual colorful shirt made it take 2.2 seconds longer to see him because he was in a light colored long sleeve shirt. it was cool and drizzly (about which i was happy because it meant there would not not be as many overwhelmingly crowded people moments and i got to park really close). he saw me first and just waited by the dragon “pretending” that he didn’t see me. he lowered his hat brim and i followed suit by “hiding” behind little sapling trees “sneaking” up on him. then i finally got over to him and we laughed and hugged for about 5 minutes, to make up for 5 days of no hugs.
this dragon is the one!
he had our broom in his hand! i exclaimed excitedly about how he had gotten us a broom for our house. last year we had been eyeing the brooms because these brooms are really sturdy pieces of artwork hand made out of real stuff and like tree branches, and the bristles are pretty colors (i overheard kids calling out to another kid who carried an orange broom, “hey, kid with the firebolt!”) rich had a beautiful dark blue one in his hand. we had said we’d get one for the new house so i thought it was wonderful he’d gotten it, but logistics like whether to take it to my car before walking around the fair were my initial preoccupation. but then he held it out and began making a little speech about how he had gotten me this broom, at which point i switched from logistics to wait, he’s being weird, is this it? is something up? then told my brain to shut up and listen.
he told me how it’s symbolic because it’s for our new house and represents new beginnings, but also because one of the things that’s good about us in our relationship is how we keep our “house clean” and keep the cobwebs out and keep the space between us clean, and free from the dust bunnies of our past, (this is a paraphrasing of his actual words, because shortly thereafter my brain turned to mush) and so the broom symbolizes us continuing to sweep out our cobwebs and keep this good thing going. and we joked about sweeping each other off of our feet, of course. by this time i was totally thinking about how strangely he was acting, but i said thank you for the broom and hugged and kissed him and turned back to whether we should put the broom in my car while we’re still out front, so we don’t have to carry it around, and he agreed, “but there’s one more thing.”
then he pulled a ring out of his pocket and said, “will you marry me?”
i think my eyes must have gotten really big, and i said yes! of course! and more hugging and kissing ensued.
the original ring he gave me was also a silver dolphin ring, but was too big and we ended up exchanging it for this one.
he joked that his jedi mind trick about me wearing ocean clothes must have worked.
last selfie before becoming engaged
rich got the ring from a guy we know locally, who makes and sells jewelry at fair, and is part of the family who owns the restaurant where rich and i went out on our very first date. he also built the school room addition on our living school, his grandson went to ols with quinn, and i could go on, but you get the idea. both rich and i transplanted here. i make no bones about how i set my intention right away that i planned on putting down roots here, getting to know and adopting the locals for my own; rich jokes that in 1996 he came here to try it out for a year, and that he’s still trying it out. we are very interconnected with the community here. case in point: i got my man, my job, my vacation house, and my dragon house all from connections made in yoga class.
so we took the broom to my car (phew! i’m sure you were all impatiently awaiting the outcome on that, i know i was) and took a couple of selfies by the dragon on our way back in and then walked around a little bit, exchanged the ring, and got coffee. he asked whether i wanted a peanut butter brownie or an espresso brownie with my coffee; i chose peanut butter. we were being dorks and “practicing” feeding each other cake while we shared it. right after that he said, “well i’m glad that’s over with, i hadn’t had coffee yet because i was so nervous and jittery and…” without missing a beat i snorted laughing, “and were you also pretty full of shit?” and he laughed. we all know who does all of the overthinking and fretting in this relationship, and it’s not him.
i had already been set on, in the moment, saying yes, whenever if ever that moment occurred. i wasn’t going to joke about that, not even given the latest story he’s been telling that “i’ve asked her but she keeps saying no.”
however, immediately afterwards we could joke!
we went and listened to a band (the deer, from austin texas, very fun) and mostly stood there hugging and swaying and enjoying the music. he got us lamb souvlaki for brunch and we saw another band we really liked (the hill pigs) and for that show i was standing in front of him with his arms wrapped around me, also dancing, swaying and reveling in the wonderful atmosphere of fair.
we got him a matching broom for keeping by the wood stove for sweeping up ashes and wood chips while tending the hearth. rich also learned from the broom maker when he bought the broom, that it’s good luck to buy a new broom for a new house, and that you should never bring an old broom to a new house; we also laughed about jumping over the broom at our wedding. we got a couple of hooks to hang the brooms up from the blacksmith (after we watched them being forged, which was so cool) because hanging up the brooms should make them last longer.
a band we love (taarka) but who weren’t playing on stage this year were playing acoustically just sitting on the path, so we bought their cd and sat and listened for a while to them. their son is about quinn’s age and had his pokemon cards laying next to him so i chatted with him about kyogre mega ex, as you do.
we spent the better part of the day just walking around, sitting on benches together holding hands and hugging and talking and people watching and taking pictures. he fed me afghani food, indian food, chai, and a blintz. we saw a few people we knew, but we agreed not to tell anyone our news until we had told our families, and just enjoy knowing it for ourselves for that day. we took pictures of ourselves with the “yes yes yes” signs. they are all over the fair, and i’ve always loved those signs in general but now i love them even more!
we go there every year, so now we have a built in day to celebrate our engagement every year. a fun place we will go back to, close to the date, and spend an amazing magical day there together, one where i don’t have to cook or do things for people, it’s just fun and celebration there, and, um, we got engaged beside a giant dragon. and he got my ring and broom there. just so good.
it goes beyond that. one of the cobwebs we originally had to sweep away, from my past, had to do with country fair. 4 years ago i had to consciously try to enjoy myself; and now i super look forward to it, and even still sweeping out old cobwebs like hangups about a necklace i want to wear but wasn’t wearing, and finally wearing it. we could have done just fine building a relationship without healing those particular things, done our separate things when fair time came around, but instead, we swept out the old junk, made it a place where there is only love and more love, and now my only thoughts about fair will ever be happy happy happy thoughts.
briefly, on the word fiance. it is growing on me, as we make a point to use it with great frequency since it will only be valid for a year-ish. at first, though, it made me want to introduce him as richard, because it sounds so formal:
“this is my fiance, richard.”
yup, there he is again. my sweet fiance.
i asked him if he was bummed i didn’t go on saturday instead, because it would have been the 9th and his number is 9 so i asked if it had crossed his mind. it had, but he said that 10 is also a great number, that it symbolizes completion. (aww.) later on i was singing 10, 10, 10, 10 is for everything, everything, everything, everything!
and there’s pretty much a little of everything at fair!
one of the best parts of leaving fair (besides looking at everyone leaving through the sunlit gate and taking pictures and people watching) is walking back past the dragon. we realized that we can reenact our engagement every year! and we started right away. he hammed it up much more for the reenactment with lots more words, will you, mary beth rew, etc…. hilarious. just like picking each other up in the laundromat whenever we go back to it (not often lately, now that we’re washer and dryer owners) only like a million times better.
candy pink? baby pink?
already, since we’ve been home, i’ve asked him to tell me the story of our engagement, and i offered, “you could start with ‘once upon a time.'” i know he loves me because he indulges silly, playful things like that… the ones that increase the love, you know. “once upon a time, a long, long time ago, i was at oregon country fair. i went to the dragon, and i waited… and waited… and waited…. and waited…. and waited some more…. and then i had to find a dry spot to sit down… and i waited… and waited…”
frequently asked questions:
q: have you set a date yet?
a: nope! but sometime summer 2017 is looking likely.
q: candy pink or baby pink?
a: we’re more into rainbow these days. i think rich and i agree we like things not all matchy matchy.
q: do you come here often?
now that it’s been over a week, (on the one week date, we celebrated “one week engage-a-versary”, which quickly devolved to “dorkaversary”) the telling of the news to friends and family itself has been incorporated into part of the story… i called my mom the next morning, then my bff, then did a swing by before work to tell camp boss the live version. there was an amazing freak attack by sister camp boss, who abruptly set baby z down, and after we hugged, i picked z up and he proceeded to puke from excitement. camp boss (who now also answers to “wedding boss”, and a few other friends have had amusingly joyous and borderline tearful reactions, while others have had more nonchalant reactions such as, “oh, we thought you were already engaged/married!” when my sister in law texted that she was barfing (a common reaction to warm fuzzy overload) i told her i had the puke situation covered: baby puke on ring, check. it hasn’t been all puke, either, i also bathed the ring in clay while throwing my first bowl with a friend who pointed out that the two dolphin tails represent “the two shall become one,” and still another friend invited us over for a dinner of italian wedding soup to celebrate! it has been wonderful to be carried along on a wave of shared joy as we spread the news to friends and family.
i think rings are supposed to symbolize eternity, the circle going around forever, but i see this ring as more of a spiral. the whole eternity aspect of this journey we’re on is a no brainer “love you till i die meet you on the other side” and so on and so forth, but we live in the right now, here in the present moment. i see the spiral as a symbol of beginning again from right now. let’s wake up and be in a wonderful (clean, swept-out) space together and love each other today. new beginnings, fresh every day. it’s just like meditating: go back to your breath, start again when your mind wanders… stay with it, keep your attention on it, always come back to it.
the morning after our day together at fair rich texted me “morning my lovely fiance.” his choice of the word lovely coincided with these lyrics from the taarka cd that had been the soundtrack to my drive home along the foggy dark coastline, so i texted him back:
shall we rise up my darling and greet the new day with open arms
and shall we be strong my lovely and never give up on heart and song?
it’s a camping rainbow! and it’s coming to you on tuesday! i’ve been a little… distracted! more on that soon! probably with continued excessive use of exclamation points!!! but first, camping quilts, glow sticks, and spring rolls to launch us into an inner tube to float down the river of memories from our fourth of july family camping weekend.
red: ready, set, float!
orange: crab over the coals from our family fisher cousin/friend. so much good feasting is done around the campfire.
yellow: birds, trucks, and baby blankets accentuating exceedingly cute toes.
(photo credit: rich!)
green: lots and lots of green whenever we are camping. hard to choose just a few! another dino boy in the family, the light through the vine maples, the ample baby borrowing opportunities, the mini-boo trying out how to snuggle a baby in a sweatshirt like he saw his mama do, alternating his play time roles between playing capture the flag, football and card games with even bigger kids, and playing what time is it mr. fox, play kitchen, and shepherding littler kids across the river or pulling them upriver on the raft, equally at home with all the age groups. also taking time for himself as needed, to binge-read greek mythology texts and dinosaur science comic books. he also spent a small sliver of his time snuggled up one on one, conquering logic puzzles with mama.
blue: this sums up the river for me: sun on little kid bare arms, cold clean water splashing the dust and mud off of little kid bare legs. it’s always such a fun weekend.
purple: shared love of comics by all, especially our insatiable reader kiddos, endlessly taking turns on the tire swing, which barely ever sits motionless the entire weekend, and laughing with cousin/sister/friend/family people we hold near and dear to our hearts. hope your holiday weekend was as colorful and joyful as ours!
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.
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!
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!
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
flash back: first day of third grade
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…
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!
a recipe for summer only a true geek would dream up!
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!
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.
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
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.
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!
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.
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.
and just like that, school is out, and summer is off to a wonderful, fun-filled start!
it’s a full moon, summer solstice, celebration rainbow!
sometimes you need to meditate on the absence of color in order to appreciate the colors!
red: quinn and i watched a family of 3 woodpeckers practice climbing up our redwood tree.
red: sometimes it’s just another dead leaf on the gravel driveway, until the sun hits it just so…
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.
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!
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.
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!)
purple: last days as a purple belt. i’m so proud of him!