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


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

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





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


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

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

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


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

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


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

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


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

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

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


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

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



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

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flash back: first day of third grade

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

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


archaeological artifact from the school desk dig site…


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

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

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

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

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


quinnesthesia: q is green, m is purple!

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

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

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


calvin’s version: dinosthesia

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

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

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

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

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

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

  • camp boss

    kora thinks all letters are red which is funny because I see all letters as black. the last picture is wonderful, a great way to end. I look forward to more pics of the two of them together.

  • me too! i love how he was exclaiming over how tiny z’s nose! and ears! and fingers! are. sweetness. that shot makes quinn’s hands look so huge in comparison!

  • Tim

    Based on the shrinky dink, I believe I need to play this Swords and Souls game. Pirate Scarecrow Snowmen are the bomb! Also, I love the note about you getting enough money to go to New York. Can’t wait to see how good Quinn is at Risk.

  • ha! maybe you can let me know what is so cool about swords and souls… i just don’t get it! but quinn finds it riveting. i also loved the getting enough money sentence. i think we’ll have enough for a trip in september (though quinn desperately wants to come when there is snow!) i would be thrilled to have you play some risk with him, as you may recall, it is not one of my favorite games, but right from when he first saw it in the store, he *knew* it was a game he had to play. he really digs it.

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