~a month in the life of a lifelong learner~ miracles

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the trouble with blog posts is, there’s no way to make them scratch-and-sniff. perhaps i can utilize some sort of jedi mind trick to make you smell this clove-filled orange while you read about our month of lifelong learning.

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rich’s daughter and her fiance came for thanksgiving, and brought quinn a drone. the boys had fun flying it and rescuing it from the hedge with the apple-picker each time it got stuck. these two share a birthday, and i know q looks up to him, i mean, the guy has serious paintball equipment, c’mon. both daughter and son-in-law-to-be are very sweet with quinn.

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since our own christmas ornaments were in storage, we decided to make some. then we ended up giving most of them away as gifts, which was a great way to spend less money and avoid giving people things they didn’t want. (because how could they not want a handmade owl from quinn’s pinecone owl colony?) hot glue and some craft foam from the dollar store… and we were cranking out little droid-esque owls in no time. quinn asked me favorite colors of family members he was sending them to, which i thought was very thoughtful of him. he thinks often of his new york family and i know it means a lot to him to do nice things for them and think of them smiling from far away when they opened his gift.


for yet another pinterest project idea we used dollar-store ornaments to make ninja turtles, some to keep, and some to give away to karate instructors and quinn’s third grade teacher, who used to do tae kwon do. quinn did research, and interviewed each instructor to find out their favorite ninja turtle so he could personalize their gifts.


who’s your favorite? q loves rafael, and i am a donatello fan myself.

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with clay from our personal ceramics tutor and buddy, quinn worked at sculpting elf, dwarf, wizard, hobbit and ranger mover pieces for his d and d monopoly game.


pokemon card making experienced a surge of renewed interest this month.

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the school book fair enchanted quinn, and i remember feeling that way myself when i was a kid, so i gave him some spending money to choose a few (overpriced and of questionable quality, but still) books. i was impressed with his choices: the next installment of diary of a wimpy kid (he had read the whole series up to that point from the library, and was very much looking forward to the next installment), a how-to-draw teenage mutant ninja turtles book (i used to come home from every book fair with a how-to-draw book of some sort), a set of star wars stickers, and a pokemon collector’s handbook. the pokemon handbook induced spin-off activities such as list-making and story writing. pictured above, he is working on quinn’s pokemon story using my laptop.


3 people went to new york for 7 days. they spent 8 hours a day at a hotel. how many hours did they spend at the hotel?

i pondered a bit this month about helping quinn catch his writing skills up to the level of his math and reading skills, but i don’t really think there is much i need to do. he is motivated to write now more than ever, and has lots of ideas: the writing force awakens. his teacher had told me he was less than motivated to write during certain assignments, such as writing his daily “math review” which entails explaining how he solved the math equation. he tends to space out and just not do it, his teacher said, and i nodded knowingly, thinking of how he spaces out and “just doesn’t do” things like getting dressed or putting on shoes. and yet, when it is something that sets him on fire, like making a game or sorting out a new pokemon deck, he has stick-to-it-ive-ness alright, and the space-out symptoms vanish. i liked how he took the make-up-a-problem assignment above and made it into something he cared about – traveling to new york. personalizing mundane assignments is a skill i don’t think i really made conscious use of until graduate school. i think he will learn to tap into that skill for completing assignments that make him want to stick his pencil in his eye, like math review apparently does, and i bet his math reviews will become the most enjoyable read in the stack.

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music! quinn still routinely talks about drumming with special interest, when it comes to music, and i do think he is a rhythm-oriented guy, when i see him dance. also, based on the songs he chooses as favorites, i see a definite rhythm-o-phile in the making. he is also playing recorder at school, so we are doing a little at home as well (he said he has his b, a and g figured out). they don’t have music every week- each class has it for a whole week’s specials about twice a semester, but the teacher makes great use of the time, and we’re grateful for the little bit we do get. i have my eye on some star wars recorder music, as well as a cool curriculum for earning karate belts for mastering different songs on recorder that i came across on this mom’s hilarious and well-written blog. stay tuned for me wanting to stick a pencil in my eye as we take this recorder journey together.

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speaking of earning karate belts…

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a young jedi looks for the good in all people; keeps his karate covered like a treasure in his pocket; and prays he never needs to use it, or for forgiveness if he ever does. love the symbolism and lessons that reach far beyond the mat… karate really is well-rounded, if your kid is going to be a one-extracurricular-activity kind of guy like mine.

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testing for his red tip (final step before being eligible to promote to the next belt!)

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his belt promotion paperwork. question: how can commitment help you obtain a black belt in karate? answer: commitment is a kind of cowoperation that helps you. question: name two things that you have set goals to do in the past two months. answer: be a green belt by the time i’m 11. be tying bunny loops by the time i’m a purple belt. i will take a small amount of credit for planting that bunny loop idea as a goal, because q had already mastered every other step of getting his karate gear on and off, including tying his belt and folding his uniform after practice, but the ties on the sides of his gi (top) required bunny loops, and he wears crocs on his feet and has never bothered to learn to tie laces. still, in case he wears running shoes ever, it seems like a handy skill to have, and i wanted him to set a deadline so he’d actually work towards it. he decided on purple belt, and then set to work learning bunny loops. and he has indeed learned to tie them, and on the day of his belt test, did not even ask me for help with his gi.


bad picture of bunny loop tying

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belt test, the big night. several parents complimented him on how well he did, and his instructor gave him a special shout-out at the end for how hard he had worked to become proficient in his orange belt curriculum. he acknowledged how serious quinn had been in class lately, that his tendency to be a goofball had been less prominent in recent classes, and dubbed him the resident smile-bringer of the dojo.

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goofball time is built in, even during belt tests- here the kids are showing off their balance at the very end, wearing their new belts.

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smile bringer


now that he is a purple belt, he is in the advanced class, and quinn has been dying to get into that class for one single reason: they get to run for warm-ups! boy after my own heart, with ribs and gangly limbs poking out every which way just like 8 year old me.

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we had a fun play date with friends, and got to play with a cool snap-together building toy called lux blox. quinn took his new bunny loop skills on the road and helped with tying his four-year-old buddy’s shoes. (awwwwwww.) we puppy-sat for our ruby again (she was helping him learn more computer programming skills) and also had doggy friends of our housemate to play with this month.


we launched our winter break with a friendly game of uno between the three of us, and ruby helped. my sweet 8 year old boy in a 45 year old’s body (who was 8 when he watched the original star wars on the big screen) took us out on a family date to watch the force awakens. no spoilers here, don’t worry. but oh, the fun! we sure liked it. what i personally liked most were the quirky quinn-isms that were whispered into my ear: “ok mama, the weapon is fully charged. i counted 30 seconds.”

equally as awesome, i walked into his bedroom that afternoon on him trying to use the force. he wasn’t even remotely deterred by my presence, and kept right on trying, commenting on how he was trying to figure out if the force was really real.

i told him i was sure of it.

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quintuple sharp tusk; woolly mammoth-inspired pokemon attack powers

while making his dad’s pokemon cards for christmas, we hit a snag because the marker he needed for the background color (“brown sugar” is what he calls it) was drying up, and we didn’t have another one. nor did the store, though they had a close enough for mama color. it was not close enough for quinn. it took him a while, and a lot of trying to get the dried marker to work before he relented, but relent he finally did. then he told me, “it must be a miracle, because my instincts kicked in just in time and i was okay with using the other marker.”

between newfound flexibility and actually finding the christmas tree stand in the storage garage, we most definitely received our quota of christmas miracles.

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from the light(hearted) side of the force, always, mb

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