~a month in the life of a lifelong learner~ character building

~5-23 to 6-23~

I feel like posting this one in journal format, the way I actually typed it into my word document… Each day in the life of a month in the life of a lifelong learner, day by day.


Quinn mowed their driveway and then said he spent “a long time” outside, picking dandelion greens for his guinea pigs. He said Squeaky will eat anything green, but Ms. B is a little more picky and her absolute favorite is dandelion greens. (Now that I am documenting this, after Ms. B’s passing, it stands out to me how particular his observations are of his guinea pigs’ eating habits and how attentive he is in tending to them.)


Quinn said he did not do any more mowing, but he did build a fire last night in the wood stove! He is also very into the electronics projects they have been doing, and is learning how to solder and connect up lots of detailed circuit board/resistors/connections. We are reading about Sam and Frodo traveling into Mordor, but then turning and passing through Ithilien with Gollum to go “the other way”.

Wednesday 5-27

Q seems rejuvenated somehow, rallying to end the school year strong, and showed up in a button down to our video call and stated a goal of getting all schoolwork done by the end of tomorrow. He is redoing where he needs to show work, etc.

He told me about how his factoring polynomials project (one he was procrastinating) “turned out to be my favorite assignment.” When I asked him to explain it to me (after having heard from his teacher about needing to redo and “show his work”), he said, out loud, without hesitation:

“To convert from x2 + bx + c to a(x+b)(x+c) find two numbers p and q where p+q=b and p times q equals c and those are going to be the b and c of your x2 + bx + c and p and q will be b and c in the a(x+b)(x+c)”

He just rattled that off verbally, that quote you just skimmed over because blah blah math blah, which leads me to believe he is able to grasp the concept and articulate it, whether he has showed his work or not.

But we did revisit the topic of showing one’s work, with the reasoning that the 99% of people who do not just see/know the answer, may appreciate him having the ability to walk them through/teach them the steps they should take (even if you don’t take them, Quinn!) Also, as he gets into more advanced math, he may at some point reach a threshold where he does actually need to put some of the math on paper to keep track, or be able to trade proofs among scholars.

Friday 5-29

Quinn is getting all caught up on school! He did two math assignments today. So proud of how hard he rallied. So grateful he will soon be done. But wow. DONE with seventh grade! He has been sending me photos of the electronics project. I have been hearing words such as “potentiometers, LED, PCB, circuit board, jacks, capacitors, resistors, transistors, diodes, switches….” during our chats.


On hangout with Quinn we began to read The Return of the King today. Our page numbers no longer match (his book 3 is from a different paperback edition) so we tried to do algebra to it, specifically to our page numbers to calculate the other’s page number based on whoever reads, where the reader left off, and where the listener should pick up next time.


We went to the Black Lives Matter protest and stood and marched.

painting by Hayden Sargent who some of my readers will know!

I am reminded of fourth grade Quinn with his peaceful protesting… just after Mrs. Schroeder assigned the MLK essay, and he would peacefully bring his drawing stuff even when I felt he should leave it home.

Lots of people turned out – marine science people, farmer’s market people, goldberry and family (she and Q waved at each other from a safe social distance) and so many young people. There was car honking and it felt good to be there…  I think he was glad to be there. His sign. His awesome sign.


Quinn had to do one more elective credit, and after talking it through with me he realized a really easy one would be the short presentation of “a new skill you’ve learned during quarantine” and he even had pictures of his electronics project ready to put into a presentation for it.


We watched a quetzalcoatlus you tube video Quinn found. Yay for paleontology!


Camp robber (gray jay named “Brad”) landed on Quinn’s hand!


Q set up a google meet to play D&D with Goldberry and Aragorn. Tonight at 5pm! Yesterday in our hangout he answered my question of what plans he had for the rest of Monday with “look forward to tomorrow!”

As we were planning our upcoming hike, I sent him photos of his last trip down to Drift Creek; snowman pants and river rock snowmen!


Hearing about how his D&D session went with friends. The electricity went out on him right in the middle! But it wasn’t out for long, and when he got back into the meet, the other two were there, and filled him in thoroughly on what had happened while he had been gone. There was a nearby town that a bunch of orcs had been attacking and there was “like a whole encampment of them,” so Goldberry’s character “went in and singlehandedly dealt with that, and then I came back in right as the boss orc came out. I was still level one because I missed all the experience points from that, so that only worked semi-well for me. So we defeated that orc, and then we went to the nearby town and hung out for a while, and apparently the blacksmith has a quest for us… that’s next time. Oh and I’m level two… and I also got my arm lopped off by the orc, but it’s growing back.”

“So when you say next time do you already have an idea when it will be?”



Drift creek hike!

We had one conversation during our hike where Quinn shared some of his early memories. So much fun to hear what he remembers!

Draconis story details…

Our first egg, found in a rose bush, was glowing turquoise-green and looked like a seed, and we placed it in a nest of moss and hatched a Photosynthesim draconis we named Douglas Fircone. Doug for short. His power was absorbing sunlight and transmitting (through breathing green gas onto things) plant nutrition.

After we got to the river’s edge and started seeing crayfish, we found our next egg, a blue one that seemed like a fish egg, in a water erosion hole. This was an Aquarius draconis egg and it nested in river silt until hatching. We named this dragon Crayfish Ripple (Cray for short.)

Next, we found a bright red Volcanis draconis egg in a sinkhole, but the egg, which looked like it was made of obsidian, was not sinking. In a nest of oasis mud, we hatched Lavaspark Flameflow (nickname Lava).

Finally, we explosively hatched a never encountered dragon that could only be seen as a shadow or sometimes a bend in the light… We named the new species Lumenergescens draconis, and its name was Shimmer Shade.

Binary hand counting on the trail.


Reading Return of the King, he stopped me mid-paragraph to do the math on “a month of Mondays” and we realized a month of weeks is the same as a week of months, or 210 days, given that there are 30 days per month in the Shire calendar.

We stayed on our call for an extra half hour. I was a bit tearful, discussing how it’s the first day after a nice long day with him, and not knowing when it will happen again, it feels long. And I miss him.

But we also talked about how this time is shaping us and changing us, but that doesn’t have to be bad, in fact in our case, having to think about heavy things and having to make difficult choices is character building (Quinn laughed and referenced Calvin and Hobbes; “character building is painful”).

Which reminded me that I should add some Calvin to his next care package, as it is such comfort reading for him. I think we have two copies of one of the books anyway…

We ended our call on that note; holding onto the thought of using the energy of this time to become better humans. More strength, more empathy.


On Thursday I sent a 2-bag care package home with quinn including lots of food (white chocolate chip cookies, pancakes, chocolate covered acai snacks aka “deer poops”, popcorn made by his stepdad aka best popcorn ever, seaweed snacks, almonds, pasta, goldfish), a hexaflexagon I decorated for him with fractals and mathy art, some books (calvin, Born a Crime by Trevor Noah and Stamped by Ibram X. Kendi, as well as his D and D player’s handbook and a book of Oregon Fossils, and with my version of “Sam’s gardening box” that has so enamored him as we have read about it, and his set of rubik’s cubes and instruction book for solving. He got the 4 by 4 solved today for the first time and also found instructions in the book he hadn’t seen before about how to solve the orientation of the emblem, which had caused him much consternation with his 3 by 3 cube.


Sam’s gardening box is unleashed and brings renewal and abundance to the Shire during our reading and Quinn is content with this outcome.


The gardening box has been planted in a pot!

We realized Q is 13.333 repeating today when we signed off an evening call (we had not been able to do a noon call because his electricity was being worked on, but it was back on and he CALLED me on the phone and we had a bonus half hour to read and have some time together.

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