inbisibibble buttercups and other hiwawity

my family is awesome.

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we have returned home from our week in upstate new york, where the apple crisp and orange-red-yellow trees provided a lovely backdrop for a joyful reunion. luigi (now 6) and mario (now 4) greeted cousin quinn enthusiastically and not 5 minutes later they were in a puppy pile. quinn’s most vivid memories of last may’s trip, in order, were 1) the lego bin, 2) peach pie (grammy hurried to pull another one out of the freezer for him) and 3) battleship, all of which he dove right into and heartily enjoyed again.

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going to the home of one’s family of origin lends itself to analysis of the nature/nurture teeter totter of science. it’s totally obvious which ones shared both nature and nurture when the 5 original family members are laughing at some ridiculous inside joke involving a handheld electronic baseball game from the 80’s, or memories of lining up and “milking” our stuffed animals, and the other 6 people at the table are staring blankly, politely smiling along. but then there are the cousins, only having spent a cumulative 2 weeks in one anothers’ presence, who share a great deal in common more than average children one might pluck off the street.

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they share a very similar (large) capacity for imagination. luigi had us laughing when the boys were all running around making ghost sounds and spooking us, when he stopped suddenly and realized he was a ghost because, “oh no, i forgot to take my extra keep alive this morning!” featuring in the playtime imagination-scape this week were kings, queens, shamans, pokemon, ghosts, harry potter, and lots of death and healing/resurrection, with many spells and pokemon powers tossed in. “i found a ‘specto patronum rainbow power! it puts one hundred moons up in the sky!” mario told my brother and i, one night as we were chaperoning them running around outside after dark.

they also share precociously large vocabularies for people their size. it’s no wonder, with grammy around, who is modeling lifelong learning with her current passion for honing her skills of identifying the heirloom apple varieties growing in the ancient orchards on the farm. when my son starts dropping terminology about the conspicuous lenticels on the apple i pack for his lunch, i will know where he got the lingo. quinn asked me as we were getting settled on board the first plane, “when will the plane start taxiing?” he also mentioned something about a squadron, which made perfect sense at the time, though i can’t remember his usage. now that he is 7, he retains very few cute-isms in his vocabulary, but he did explain how he was gripping a ball at one point this week by naming which fingers were where, including “thumb, index finger, middle finger, rain finger, and pinky.” it’s so nice to get a dose of mario, who speaks cute-ese still at 4. he calls suction cups “buttercups” and things that you can’t see are “inbisibibble” to him. i loved listening to him muse about ghosts being inbisibibble (that’s why daddy can drink them instead of eat them like he has to do with monsters) and the sky being inbisibibble, too.

mario theorized at length one dinner time that a car would make a good candidate for pulling a truck out of a ditch, because “cars are faster than twactors.” he also got into a lengthy discussion with me one night about cauliflower, with which he had been unfamiliar. he guessed it might be like broccoli, only white, and i said yes, that it was broccoli’s cousin named cauliflower. he thought it was wonderful to be eating a cousin vegetable.

my favorite cute-ism of the week. mario stating that something quinn did was “just hiwawious.”

speaking of how these kids think; overheard at grammy and grampy’s house:

luigi: “wow cousin quinn, it’s amazing, all the stuff you can do! they don’t teach you that at cortland schools!”

c.q.: “yeah, they just teach you what they want you to think!”

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grammy and grampy were awed by quinn’s reading level compared to last may, when he was slogging through bob books one painstaking word at a time. this time he was reading a pokemon junior chapter book (squirtle’s rescue) fluently.

the two older cousins got to have home school together with grammy one morning, and did a project with her that my sister-in-law and i are not allowed to know about until christmas eve. lots of schooling/homeschooling/lifelong learning discussions were had among the educator types. we also got to tag along on a homeschool day hike at a local nature center, during which quinn became engaged in the nature once i handed him my camera; he was taking “stadium” shots for his pokemon “trainer” cards that he plans to make, while i was secretly encouraging his scientific observation skills. he didn’t become interested in locating ambush bugs among the purple asters until he began to think of their potential as pokemon characters.

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the kids spontaneously began a demolition project on one of grampy’s old hay wagons early in the week, and then grampy harnessed their exuberant energy into actually completing the project, since it was something that was on his agenda anyway. grampy is no slouch in the emergent curriculum department.

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those cousins undoubtedly get some of their awesomeness from their dad. because sharing is caring, i submit exhibit a:


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for those of you who know me, i am not a small person. until i’m next to this guy.

i think a photo montage is in order, so without further ado i will conclude this post by overwhelming you with my favorite shots from the trip…

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(that’s our house and barn in the background)

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rich gets some photo credit!

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already looking forward to next year!

other posts you may enjoy:

~rainbow mondays~

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fall rainbow courtesy of upstate new york

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red: sumac leaves

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red: guitar pick bokeh shot; from punched out amazon gift card i found on the floor of the rehearsal studio where i got to hear my brother’s awesome band, sanjuro fields, rehearse.

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orange: or at least that is what i’m calling this rainbow foliage.

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more orange!

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yellow: lit up by the autumn sun.

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yellow: sunflower grown by my new york family.

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green: fallen walnuts

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blue: tractor work with grampy

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blue: my sister-in-law-to-be has amazing interior decorating skills. love her style!

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purple: asters everywhere, providing a crazy contrast to all the red-orange-yellow foliage. what a beautiful week, in so many ways! (more to come on that in the next few days!)

~rainbow mondays~

a splash of color on monday morning

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

other posts you may enjoy:

~this moment~



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last may

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last week

~a friday ritual~

a photo capturing a moment from the week.

a simple, special moment.

a moment i want to pause, savor and remember

other posts you may enjoy:

oklahoma was ok ~ a rambling update

it’s the autumnal equinox, a sunny, breezy sunday, and i am lazily canning my way past the 200 pound mark in tomatoes for this season. rich walks in as i sit with the laptop in my lap (that’s how lazily i am canning), and asks whether i am reading or writing. in fact, i have just been sitting here determined to stop reading and start writing again, dammit! and it occurs to me that it’s time to balance things out, which seems appropriate for an equinox.

i haven’t exactly been spending all of my time reading, but i did get to enjoy a few novels over the summer, in between all the curriculum-related reading i was doing in preparing for my summer program at ols. my favorite was probably the brothers k, by david james duncan, and i also enjoyed some sherman alexie books. we had a grand summer, all told, with lots of camping on the built-in long weekends (summer program was monday through thursday) and gathering fruit from our old familiar haunts as well as a few new ones. i did not garden in earnest, but a garden grew anyway in spite of intermittent bouts of neglect. i likewise felt as though i was going minimal on the fruit preservation, but rich kept on prompting me with, “when are we picking ____? (fill in the name of fruit)” and then driving me around and helping me pick strawberries, blueberries, cherries, and peaches. so all in all, we have a freezer full of berries, plus 42 quarts of peaches on the shelves. fruit wealth!

after a couple of our trips into the valley for fruit, we stopped at a pub that had chalkboard tables and yummy sandwiches and microbrews. we played hangman and i used the yoda phrase, “do or do not, there is no try” for one of the phrases rich had to guess. the very next day at ols, i got a tea bag that had the same quote on the label. lots of magic moments like that this summer. synchronicities, indicating, to my mind at least, things in alignment. it sure feels that way, anyway.

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for example, i know that i have finally arrived as a human being in the world, because i am now being paid in both cash and veggies to help run my favorite farm booth at the farmer’s market on certain saturdays. what. a. sweet. gig.



some of my recent saturday work

i am emerging from the tomato marathon just in time to throw a box of pears into jars and then we are off to new york for the annual rew family extravaganza, highly anticipated by all invoived! summer went by so quickly that i haven’t even had time to mourn its demise, and i don’t think that i will have time for that in the giant multi-task of life this year. i hope there are still a handful of fireflies left among the fall color we hope to see while we are there, but the main thing is hugging all my rew peeps again finally!

this year feels so much improved over the hectic pace of last school year, and even though i don’t feel less busy, i do feel a lot more sane and happy. my job satisfaction has gone way up, and i get up every day for school at ols looking forward to my day. the last thing i had to finish reading before i started writing this was an alfie kohn article about progressive schools, spot on as usual, which you can find here.

quinn went from emerging reader to what i, in my untrained, unprofessional opinion, consider a borderline proficient reader, in his secretive quinn way, sometime over the summer. i’d find him perusing his pokemon cards (an ongoing passion) and hear him muttering to himself, “…to reveal your opponent’s weakness…” and then he’d be looking at his paleontology cards, “…forces your opponent to discard one bone card…” and shake my head, wondering how he went from needing books with big short words to read, to reading microscopic three- and four-syllable words fluently. he also skates through the arithmetic with multiples of ten, and i’ll hear him calculating out loud, “so if my pokemon’s h.p. is 140 and your attack just did 60 damage on me, that means i have 80 left!”

but that is textbook quinn learning style. he waits until he is confident, then, boom. he’s already there. it’s how he walked, how he potty trained, how he skipped, how he is reading. now he is on to riding a bike in the same style. he has mostly avoided it for a long time, and although we did obtain a bike for him a year or so ago, he has not put a lot of time or energy into using it. suddenly the other day, he watched his buddy ride away with his mom for a bike ride, and asked me, “can we go to fred meyer after school and buy some training wheels for my bike?” so we did. fred’s didn’t have them but we went to our local bike shop and got them installed, after which he rode around the shop 20 times while i paid. he had put on his helmet before i even drove away from school, and stood next to the bike guy installing his wheels and asked him questions, “so, how do the mechanicals of the bike work?” the next day he rode about a mile on a paved state park trail, and i walked behind, camera in hand and heart up in my throat, praying all of his teeth stayed intact in his mouth. but i trust him. he knows when he is ready, no looking back now.

he meanwhile continues to dazzle me with his vocabulary. he loves to use exactly the right word, never settling for a close approximation. lately i’ve heard him describe how he felt “dumbfounded” and overheard him using the word “infirmary” for a particular zone during an outside game at school. we are almost finished with book 15 in the guardians of ga’hoole series, and i know those books are a source of some of his choice words. but then of course, he picks up the colloquial kid terminology just as readily, and will engage me in a discussion of which stuff “rocks” and which stuff, conversely, “sucks”.

i forgot to introduce our new family members, by the way. rich and i are the proud parents of twins. 5 year old kitty brother and sister. meet bart and lisa.

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we love them. i woke up on the day rich and i were to depart on our trip to oklahoma to quinn climbing into bed and was thus sandwiched in the middle of the entire family. boy, kitty, me, kitty, man. it was a good snuggly way to start off on an adventure. quinn got to go on his own adventure (fishing and camping and digging fossils with his dad). and i took my first ever trip to oklahoma with a wonderful tour guide who knew his way around and is the best traveling partner a girl could have.

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“…and we partied there… and we stole lawn furniture over there… and we dumped trash somewhere around this building and got chased by cops…” a highly amusing tour through a much younger period in rich’s life. we rented a car, but instead of a compact, they gave us a brand new explorer, which we nicknamed the escapade. (it was like no explorer either of us had ever driven, and had a steep learning curve, no actual key, a backup camera, and other crazy modern features we are unaccustomed to in our fully manual vehicles from the turn of the century.) the temperature was 102 degrees when we stepped out of the airport in tulsa, at which point my phone, still reporting the weather in seal rock, oregon, read 63. the climate shock was intense, and i eventually had to insist on keeping the escapade a.c. warmer than 70 so that i didn’t get dizzy every time we stepped out of it.

i saw half a dozen of the former residences of my love, which is funny because he has lived in our house for 18 years now. we drove all around tulsa, and i’d make observations like, “my, there are a lot of churches” to which he’d reply, patiently, “it’s the bible belt, dear.”

we stayed with his mom and dad, and i got to meet both his sisters and a lot of nieces and nephews and some great-nieces and -nephews (i’m a great aunt as well as a grandma, now that i’m a ripe old 36.) the house his parents own was like a little oasis on the outside of tulsa, rural enough for us to sleep well at night (thanks to the ceiling fan) and with lots of wildlife (dragonflies bunnies gophers birds turtle grasshoppers cicadas and, alas, chiggers) and of course, rocks to look at. i may possibly be a bit smitten with rocks as a result of my week long immersion at rock camp.

and of course, i ate fried okra from bob’s garden every day for lunch, and bob-corn every chance i got. so i have to pronounce oklahoma 100% ok in my book.

and here is quinn on his first day of school… which took place not 6 hours after i arrived back home from ok.

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i’ll be going back to fill in details of our summer as i often do with the month of unschool posts… stay tuned and thanks for tuning in!

other posts you may enjoy:

~this moment~

training Picture 388


~a friday ritual~

a photo capturing a moment from the week.

a simple, special moment.

a moment i want to pause, savor and remember

other posts you may enjoy:

~rainbow mondays~ what i did on my summer vacation sneak peek

i have been away from the blog for far too long… here’s a sneak preview of all the stories i have to tell… um, sometime soon. right now all i have time for (still) is photos, so sit back and scroll through a rainbow blur representing the second half of my summer!

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rainbow boy holding my end of summer program bouquet. summer program at our living school was a blast and, if i do say so myself, a resounding success.

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pink: sunset on our camping trip with local adopted family; rhodochrosite or rose quartz (i think…?) on our trip to oklahoma to visit rich’s family (during which his dad, bob, completely reversed all the damage done by my boring 9th grade earth science teacher, and i fell in love with rocks once again, just like when i was a kid.)

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red: snippets from my first ever trip to the siletz tribe powwow, more camping footage (see ninja below), hummingbirds, and cherry picking with my love.

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red-orange: carnelian magic

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orange: more hummingbirds, cherry sap glistening in the sunshine, a plastic t-rex, more rocks, flowers from the farm tour i took the ols kids on, and an oklahoma sunset.

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yellow: little birds flitting about my garden, more powwow, and giant pile of bob-corn (rich learned his jedi popcorn making skills from his dad, thank goodness.)

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green: quinn returning snails to the siletz river, lots more rocks (one i don’t know, and some petrified wood), lots of bugs (including species not seen in oregon whatsoever! yay for oklahoma and all its wild wonders!) and the oklahoma garden of bob (watermelons and okra!)

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green-ish: how i spent as many camping moments as possible: under a pile of babies.

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blue: chrysacolla (i think), sodalite (maybe), more powwow and my favorite seven year old on the bay.

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purple: more treasures of every variety.

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brown: rocks and my oklahoma turtle friend (who apparently thought i looked safe to hide behind).

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gray: fossils, rocks, the ocean on a gray day, and more powwow.

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white: ammonite, and dragonfly on a white rock.

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~rainbow mondays~

a splash of color on monday

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~

playing a little catch-up today after a very busy few weeks of getting the our living school summer program underway… here’s an extra long rainbow monday post!

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red: elderberries everywhere!

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red: i walked up to this crab when quinn and i were tidepooling on saturday morning, wondering if it was dead. as soon as i got near it, it raised up a claw to let me know it was not to be messed with.

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orange: everything is blooming early this year, or i am in more and more denial with each passing year about how quickly summer races by.

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more orange: “red” sea urchin and a swath of some colonial rock-painting orange sea creature.

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still more orange: barnacles growing on an orange-shelled snail who visited the ols summer program for a fun experiment.

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yellow: these lilies aren’t mine, but i sure like them. they were growing at the strawberry farm where we recently picked with good friends.

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green: vine maple is one of the greenest greens i know.

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green: although, green sea anemones give vine maple a run for their money, in their own way.

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green: ok, ok, i can’t decide who wins the green competition.

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blue: during our fabulous week off before summer program got underway, we also had time to spend at the beach with still more good friends. i didn’t even take this picture, i am so surrounded by friends!

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blue: our very own homegrown blueberries; several years of work on our bushes is paying off at last.

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purple: sea urchins aplenty!

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brown: our friendly local elk herd. some of the boys.

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pink: the end (sunset on the way home from country fair.)

~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 of unschool~

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one of quinn’s favorite learning activities right now is the paleontology card game he got for christmas. “mama, what does e-x-p-e-d-i-t-i-o-n-s spell?” we have been having fun earning “prestige points” for various fossil digging exploits, and arranging bones in our museums. quinn has taken ideas from this game and the “dino quest” game app he plays on my phone and is creating his own board game that utilizes the best of both. stay tuned for more on the game as he works on it!

“millions of brazilians” was a found poem for quinn this month, as he researched the country of brazil for his most recent research project and presentation.

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in his brazil research, quinn covered a wide range of subjects. he colored the brazilian flag; he looked up which dinosaur fossils have been found in brazil; and also which sharks live off its atlantic coast; he researched capoeira, the martial arts form native to brazil, which we learned had developed into a music-and-dance art form out of necessity so that brazilians could continue to practice self defense in spite of portuguese rules that said they could not (but dancing was okay!); the world cup soccer championship will be held this year in brazil, and quinn had fun finding out about fuleco, the mascot, and determined that brazil has won the most world cups of any country (he illustrated this using a bar graph); he looked into the variety of fruit grown in brazil; and oh yeah, does brazil have a president? (it does.) his presentation was fascinating and engaging. he seems to thrive on getting up in front of the class.

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as a side bonus, we got to learn all about a wide range of other countries while other students gave their presentations: italy, hungary, papua new guinea, grenada, ireland, and korea!

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in spanish class, quinn is also learning about mexican history. students learned about and colored in the mexican flag and learned a lot of history through storytelling. also, quinn worked on a project for el dia de los madres in spanish class, and wrote me a message en espanol!

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the students all made self portraits using a cool technique involving doctored photographs of themselves, tracing aided by pencil graphite scribbled on the back of the image, and then painting with india ink. these self portraits decorated the children’s room at the public library for the month of may!

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quinn got to try his first throw on a pottery wheel. he ended up with a beautiful plowl as a result. yes, we are so lucky to have our very own ceramics teacher at ols!

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another of the recent ceramics projects: masks, involving  a lesson on expression using shape and color.

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our community teapot and other group projects (community bowl and flower pot) are glazed! quinn’s contribution to the teapot was the 3 blue birds from angry birds (low on the pot), and i added a hummingbird to the spout.

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very popular in unschooling these days: making his own pokemon cards.

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another intangible can’t-be-categorized-as-math-or-language-arts activity of late: meetings about herbert hoover. there is a whole culture at ols that has developed around herbert hoover, and lately there has also been some conflict around the way that culture is played out. it gave the students a wonderful opportunity to work on the democratic process!

in reading group, quinn has been working on spelling quite a bit. his teacher bonnie used a technique involving tall/small/low boxes for various letters, which i think will help his handwriting as well.

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in math, quinn worked on counting by 4s (and other skip counting, though he has 2s, 5s, and 10s very solid!) and of course, worked on data math via the aforementioned bar graph about world cup wins by various countries. we also had a math game day with different stations including negative space drawing, pattern play (aka tangrams), race for a flat (place value game), and fact families.

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caught him unschooling again with my phone camera, constructing this design with popsicle sticks- he took a picture of each step of the process, and it was cool to see him reach that awareness of wanting to document the steps in the process, in addition to the final product (which he has been in the habit of documenting for some time.)

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at after school program, nutrition has been a focus, and one of the highlights was making veggie vehicles. in science at ols, we learned about the phases of the moon.

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i love showing up to school and having quinn spontaneously join in on creating a puppet show for the early morning free choice time.

quinn has also done quite a bit of dancing this month. while he was researching brazil, he spent the morning free choice time coloring in his world cup visual aids, and from the other room i noticed him bust a move to the african playground mix that was playing, when he would get up to grab colored pencils or other supplies. he also, of course, did some dancing to the heartwood hotel radio show we listen to on tuesday evenings, which i posted video evidence of a little while back. during that evening, we heard the song by perez prado “cherry pink and apple blossom white” after which quinn came up to me and solemnly let me know, “this is a beautiful song.”

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quinn has continued this month with the puppy work. we are still trying to get the very most basic command of “come” with romper.

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baseball has of course been a big deal this month, and we have spent quite a few afternoons in the backyard playing!

by the end of such an action-packed month, it’s no wonder he fell asleep at the dinner table one night!

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other posts you may enjoy:

~rainbow mondays~

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red: water park on the trip to see our pancakes a few weekends ago.

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orange: same park, earlier that day, enjoying a nice ripe peach.

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yellow/pink: the roses are already blooming!

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green: i’ve been loving the light through the ashberry tree at ols.

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blue: bachelor’s buttons from seeds the ols kids planted last fall.

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purple: remnants of the chakra blast “color run” 5k i ran yesterday on the beach!

~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: illuminated columbine

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orange: dragon 1

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yellow: golden chain tree abloom, alight and abuzz

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green: darning needle amid greenery

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blue: dragon 2

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purple: something about these little crab spiders always feels magical and draws me in. this time, found on a chive flower flaunting some purple streaks.

~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: