~a month in the life of a lifelong learner~ in the path of totality

we got to keep grammy and grampy for the longest period surrounding the wedding, which enabled quinn to have some one-on-one time with them after the rest of the crowd had ebbed. grampy and quinn played several games, including risk, the game of paleontology, and parcheesi.

this also meant that grammy and grampy got to see the dress rehearsal of quinn’s performance near the end of his two-week theatre camp, and i know that they and he were all thrilled about that. it was nice that their departure coincided with the high of performing, somewhat mitigating the more difficult parts of the transition back to normal.

the theme of this year’s theatre camp performances centered around the upcoming solar eclipse. some of the storylines (each of the 5 groups of kids wrote and performed a separate skit) were set in different geographic locations, and some incorporated historical eclipse events through devices such as time travel. quinn’s group’s setting was present-day oregon, so they were up first!

a few tourists arrived in oregon for the eclipse event, and were treated to a tour of the small coastal town of newlincolnwaldport, including introductions to the local blueberry farmer, boxed water seller, tree vendor, and salmon farmer. soon, they were settling in for the main event, but the skies were full of clouds, rain, and fog. everyone wished on the solar eclipse for it to stop raining and be sunny instead!

they got their wish! and had wonderful viewing opportunities for the eclipse. however, the next day they were so parched (the blueberries looked like raisins, the boxed water had all evaporated, the salmon had cooked) that they wanted to figure out how to get the rain back. it’s not oregon without the rain. they wondered if there was anything they could do.

“well…” one character said. “i might know. my brother’s girlfriend’s sister’s cousin’s step-dad’s mom knows this guru temple guy who lives on the shore of the lighthouse.”

(and that, my friends, is rural coastal oregon in a nutshell! kudos to the young counselors who wrote these plays and their wit!)

enter quinn, aka voss-not-the-water, aka guru temple guy. “hello children!” who gave the desperate oregonians the secret to bringing back the rain. after he demonstrated the rain dance and taught them the mantra “rain my one my own,” they all joined in with the guru temple guy and then they got the “rain people” (the audience!) to snap along to help generate more rain dance energy. it worked, thanks to the unified power of the oregonians!

quinn did not do a lot of gardening this summer, but he listened to me talk about whatever flowers were blooming in my rainbow terrace garden, and is seen here contemplating a gladiolus. he also became a certified trampoline sweeping technician.

   

he spent some time with the family of camp boss (aka wedding boss) during the days when i made my re-entry into the world of employment, including a little time at the lake.

there always seems to be a dance party going on whenever i arrive at the house of camp boss, and in this case, some air guitar and quinn beating a drumbeat on a rubbermaid tote. his little flower jars from the wedding are pictured here holding a zinnia and a bachelor button.

while he was with his dad this summer, quinn climbed up to the summit of south sister in the cascade range! he is standing at 10,363 feet in this picture.

he brought back a game they had made together; a role play game with ships on a board that is basically a big nautical chart, with lots of strategy. always making games, playing games, and loving games, this boy.

he was also with his dad for the day of the solar eclipse on august 21, and lucky for us, our geographic location coincided with the path of totality. i was home alone playing with my makeshift camera setup (with taped-on solar filter courtesy of the free newspaper insert), rich was looking at it through his welding hood (actually his employers provided the filter glasses for him to use) and quinn was watching it all happen through his filtered eclipse glasses.

since i’m a lifelong learner, too, i’m sharing my snazzy camera situation, my accidental eclipse rainbow picture (shot with my phone) and my favorite of the crescent-shaped eclipse shadows. i was rather ho-hum leading up to the day of the eclipse, and unconcerned whether it would be cloudy and impossible to view, but my mind was completely blown, and i would now make some effort to be in the path of totality if i could make it happen. in 7 more years, i believe a total solar eclipse will be visible from upstate new york. i realize it’s a little early to plan a trip for when quinn is 17, but i think it would be fun!

the eclipse, in sequential order! after the first few shots, i think i got the settings worked out pretty well. it was a great day for viewing celestial phenomena on the oregon coast, to top off a month full of summer learning.

 

~a month in the life of a lifelong learner~ portal to the overworld

he’s a certified car vacuuming technician from way back. (apart from normal you’re-part-of-the-household chores that are not money-earners, there are above-and-beyond chores that do provide that opportunity. running the shop-vac around the car is one of them, and motivated by a new deck of pokemon cards, the lad did a fabulously thorough job on my car, which was long overdue for a cleaning.

 

this is the mandala he copied from his original drawing onto his green prayer flag for our wedding! the “seed” in the middle is a letter q.

we are attending a weapons class at our dojo on wednesday nights for a few months, and one night a special guest showed us some bo staff moves. they are similar to what we have been learning with eskrima sticks, and just as fun.

making the most of summer low tides! it was a crabby sort of day.

we pondered these bones for a while, so quinn could decide what animal he thought they came from, and give evidence to support his conclusion. i love his gestures here as he works through his reasoning.

this hearkens back to the days of toddler eating, with many items each in separate receptacles, except that one bowl is all mixed up salad! i’m noticing a definite increase in quinn’s openness and initiative on trying new foods, such as a doubling of his approved vegetable list (carrots- both orange and purple, and broccoli, are still favorites. a rekindled love for cauliflower and romanesco (another brassica cousin) and a brand new love for green beans, all of the above eaten raw, dipped in ranch, has developed this summer. he has also asked me for tastes of whatever i’m eating from time to time, even things like biscuits and gravy (he likes biscuits with jam but has never been into the gravy) and huevos rancheros, two of my standard breakfasts for the adults in the household.

post-haircut trim photos with a particularly photogenic boy beside one of our redwoods.

quinn’s fourth of july camping was abbreviated to just one overnight this year, but we made the most of our short time.

 

i like watching quinn’s way with the younger kids. he has a gentleness and patience for helping koala, and is quite obviously enjoying himself and laughing throughout such play times, not seeming to be in any hurry to go off and play with anyone closer to his age. i enjoy seeing him stay in the present moment with a toddler.

he does spend plenty of time playing with his cohort, especially his buddy panda. he got his yearly immersion in the creek, splashing up to the “rapids” with the big kids and walter, the dog.

a lot of time was spent with all of the kids playing games together, including quite a few rounds of what time is it mr. fox and mother may i. we also had a good time setting off fireworks, and there was a fair amount of play in the play kitchen, including a restaurant that featured punch cards (leaves) which, when punched 3 times, got the card holder their next meal free.

then quinn was at his dad’s for two weeks, and when he returned, it was almost time for the wedding, and all of our family to start arriving! quinn also began his two-week theatre camp session during this time period, though none of that is pictured in this post. i think theatre camp provided the lad a bit of “normal” and routine in the midst of quite a bit of departure-from-routine at home. it was wonderful departure, and he was happy to be a part of it, but he also seemed pleased to be doing his second year of theatre camp, feeling like more of a veteran camper. i was impressed that he had specific counselors he requested when he was given the option, and loved who he picked. he ended up in a great group, and in next month’s post, there will be photo documentation of the performance!

during his two weeks away, a friend had helped me get our new trampoline put together, so before i even got the car turned around in the driveway, he had jumped out and run down to try it out. he also seemed approving of the play kitchen i had brought about with paint and an old computer desk. the “rainbow restaurant” made use of quinn’s old play kitchen utensils and pans.

first, the pancakes arrived! i admire how little time it takes for them to run off and play, picking up where they left off many months ago. i would put a caption on this photo of their picnic on the trampoline reading, “why eat real dinner when you can eat pretend dinner on the trampoline?” because it truly was hard to captivate their interest in visiting the parental area for feedings or other items on the personal care agenda.

next, we added mario and luigi into the mix! the pancakes had never met quinn’s cousins, but they still wasted no time getting down to the business of playing. it was a wonderfully compatible group, with great imaginations and creativity in abundance. as the oldest, and the mutual acquaintance of all children present, quinn naturally fell into somewhat of a leadership role. i know there was a ton of minecraft-centered pretend play, quite a bit of lego pirate ship activity and whenever a kid needed a bit of down time, piles of rainbow artwork were generated, or a small person could be found curled up with a book. after all the festivities were over, quinn told me how they had divided up the four lego pirate ships so that everyone had a ship to use (quinn and mario shared one) and gave me a little tour. they each provisioned their ships in their own way. b pancake’s had lots of supplies (food, hats, books, spare beards) and was decorated with flowers. some of the ships had more crew, while others were focused more on weapons and gear. it was fun to watch them get lost in their imaginations!

they never seemed to mind the lack of space in quinn’s room, they just made it work. and played and played and played! it helped that there was plenty of space outside for running around. bubbles were also a popular activity throughout the week.

five children i love very much!

the child clan adopted 6 more children when wedding boss hosted our whole family for a get together picnic two days before the wedding. it was a lovely summer evening for our east coast and west coast and oklahoma families to meet!

this is what rehearsal dinner looked like at the kid’s table.

and this is what my son looked like while i was having my hair crown-braided and putting on my wedding dress! when i finally remembered i should see to his hygiene and clothing situation, rich’s son had already prompted quinn and taken care of everything, right down to the ponytail and glasses. it was not the first, nor the last time that day that i got a little choked up.

trying to show the wedding from the perspective of quinn is made possible only because of my wonderful photographer friend, because i was quite focused on marrying the guy up front, and could not have even told you where quinn (or anyone) was sitting, or with whom. the beauty of getting married in our own backyard, was that he felt comfortable. he sat with his cousins and aunt and followed along with the ceremony. the only feedback i got from him was that he never imagined it would be our yoga teacher “telling the story!” and that was much to his delight. he likes her a lot, and i like it a lot that he thought of it all as a story, something i know he loves!

and then, because of the getting married at home factor again, he could disappear to his room for some quiet time as needed. once again, i only knew this because of the photos!

this will be one of my favorite photos of all time, forever.

these are among my favorites as well. quinn had to be patient and smile for a bunch of photos, but then it was back to play time.

my boy has become very self-sufficient, and got all of his needs met, almost entirely without me that day. he was sailing in a sea of interchangeable parental units and grandparents and could raft up to any one of them at any moment. he also had a great group of kids to absorb himself into.

the next morning, we all ate pancakes under the big reception tent. i can’t remember who told me that there was a lego wedding reenactment at one point, and the kids seemed to gravitate towards special wedding areas like the loveseat rich and i sat on for the reception, and the “wedding trees” and ceremony area.

the kids played all day… straw bales were now fair game for climbing and walking on, and the “wedding trees” became known as “the portal to the overworld” in the ongoing minecraft game.

popcorn and quesadillas with mario. i noticed that quinn spent special one-on-one time with each of the kids.

he also spent time with my best woman, and noted he does not have far to go before he will exceed her height!

quinn set up his own tent beside mario and luigi’s on the last night of their stay with us so he could join in the camp out. since rich and i were driving my best woman to the airport that evening, quinn got to spend quality time with just their family, and ended up having a great time going bowling!

i felt theatre camp was again a welcome distraction and anchor to routine for quinn, so that the many goodbyes after such a lovely week of visitors weighed less heavily on him.

this was not an average month of lifelong learning, but a month of lifelong learning it certainly was! it was a month in which many lessons were undoubtedly learned in the department of relationships with family and friends, and some that mama may not have had any way of documenting or even knowing about. summer learning provides a great opportunity to step away from the academics and focus on the things that matter most in our lives; loving our people and savoring our time together with them.

star date 95577.75

today we celebrate our six year anniversary! one thing about the shortest, coldest days of the year that warms my heart, is that i found the love of my life during this part of the year. if there is anything symbolic of the return of the sun to my life, it is his love for me.

it’s been a big year for us! we went from happy fiances to happily married as the earth made its way this time around the sun. and now we are an old married couple! just like that.

we still like to have fun. on a recent morning, as we were wooing each other in the reverse strip tease of going-to-work morning readiness, i flipped my hair (think conditioner commercial… he was doing it with his long tresses, too, in my defense) and also accidentally tossed my (solid rock) pendant up in an arc past my face. we then laughed and joked about having nearly chipped a tooth flaunting my beauty. it isn’t easy being pretty!

photos from the day before our wedding!

we spent a recent span of weeknights going out on nightly “star dates” to watch the geminid meteor shower, because we had freakishly clear weather for our part of the world, coinciding with the shower’s peak viewing nights. by the last night, we had improved our setup from standing up and craning our necks, to lying down on a tarp/sheet with a fleece blanket on us. we saw lots of meteors! appropriately, he popped in the movie stardust, just before we went out for the star date on the peak night of viewing.

we also went to star wars the last jedi, and that’s all i’ll say about that! and we saw some live music. actually, it was quinn’s school christmas concert, and it was delightful to hear children’s voices singing, “over the river and through the woods to grandmother’s house we go!” my son is getting so tall he looked to me like a stick figure wearing pants that were paradoxically both too short and too big to stay up around his waist.

he has been away for two weeks, and came home today to celebrate christmas! we are so happy he’ll be home. it’s a great anniversary present.

 

i’ve been enjoying a chuckle about this particular calvin and hobbes comic shown to me by quinn, and extending the metaphor i’ve been using this season of finding my own inner light. sometimes it is hard to locate the proper muscle. however, i do think rich finds my gluteus maximus to be a source of light, for his part. so there’s that.

snapdragons still blooming, saying something about the tenacity of us dragons. on our anniversary date (observed last night, of course), we reminisced a little about how much we went through in the early days, and how i was so amazed he stuck with me. i’m so happy to be spending my life with him, even after all these years!

~tuesday tunes~ rainbow love

when rich and i were deciding on songs for our wedding, we had a lot of fun playing back through our favorite love songs and thinking about what music best suited our story and our celebration. we ended up using 3 songs during our ceremony, and the other two i will talk about later did come from those “oldies” that have been with us for years as part of our soundtrack. the song we ended up starting with, for our parents to walk into the ceremony, was newer to us, only discovered this past year, but so perfectly fitting that we knew it had to be a part of our wedding day.

i had googled “rainbow love songs,” because i’m me, and that was how i discovered this gem from roy orbison, on a lesser-known album called still in love with you, which was apparently considered one of his worst. i guess with roy orbison, you still get amazing when he’s giving his worst, because there is no voice like his. both rich and i love it, and i know my own love for roy’s singing goes back to riding in my dad’s pickup truck and singing along together with roy on the truck’s tape deck. i believe rich has said his dad also appreciated roy’s singing, and it only made sense that this would be the song for our parents’ walk-in. (actually my dad had to wait until song number 2, but don’t worry, that song is great, too!)

when i saw the title rainbow love in my google search results, i knew we’d need to obtain this song, but it was when i finally listened to it that i realized it was a little more than just another song to add to a mix. you really just have to listen to it to understand what i mean, but the song makes you feel like you’re in the middle of a spring day frolicking through a meadow, with its fluttering flutes and melodic orchestral arrangement. then to top it off, roy’s angelic voice sings about finding the love at the end of the rainbow. i love living in a world where you can find still more perfect songs all your life, even ones written in the distant past. (the “video” is not action-packed, but is a convenient way to share it so friends can have a listen.)

I looked behind a silver cloud, I found a pretty rainbow there
I walked out to the rainbow’s end and found a rainbow love
The one that I was looking for, the dream that I was dreaming of
There, down at the rainbow’s end I found a rainbow love

I found my pot of gold, my rainbow love
Just you and all your loving, charming rainbow love
I searched, hoped someday I’d find someone to bring me peace of mind
I found what I’ve been dreaming of when I found my rainbow love

I found my pot of gold, my rainbow love
Just you and all your loving, charming rainbow love
I searched, hoped someday I’d find someone to bring me peace of mind
I found what I’ve been dreaming of when I found my rainbow love

i know that during our wedding, not everyone could have been able to focus on listening to the songs, so i wanted to feature each one here as i share wedding memories. there was so much about that day that fit so perfectly with the rainbow metaphor, and all the color we bring to each others’ lives and why we want to spend our lives together. this song summed it up in such a beautifully simple way.

on our honeymoon, we were served in a diner by a woman named fran who, as we were leaving, told me, “this is the one. this is the end of the rainbow one.” i had not said a single word to her about rainbows, but i had shared that we were on our honeymoon. i’d like to think that something about the way rich and i treat each other comes through to other people, and even this complete stranger in the middle of montana could tell that this is something special, shining through the everyday clouds like a rainbow.

~a month in the life of a lifelong learner~ a june zing!

(a june zing follows a may zing, of course.)

quoting my best woman: “blog binging is so my jam. when it comes to babes like you and mq.” (that’s mighty quinn!) thus encouraged, here is the next installment in the binge session.

the time period for this post represents the height of my neglect of my child during wedding preparations, and it is accordingly brief concerning the documentation of his learning at the time. it also corresponds to the end of his fourth grade school year, the beginning of summer vacation, and there may have been fewer things documented because the “deschooling” period can sometimes be harder to point to and say, “learning,” though i would argue it is super important down time.

hummingbird feeder filling technician has been keeping busy this time of year.

 

nothing like a little stilt walking to work on gross motor coordination. if he isn’t going to ride a bike, there are other ways to practice balance and getting all of one’s limbs to work together.

for their final field trip of the year, our kids went to a minor league baseball game. it was lots of fun!

an invention!

in the final days of school, the fourth grade egg drop was carried out, and the school principal dropped each kid’s design off the school roof. quinn’s egg received a minor crack, but did not smash, and his design involving a tissue paper parachute was very well put together and worked exactly how he wanted it to. it was fun to watch it float slowly to the ground. he was proud both because of the results and because other kids had liked his idea and gone with similar designs (he had even requested i give him more tissue paper to bring to school to share with others). the other approach we saw was more about having excess padding inside a closed container, but i definitely think style points go to the parachutes. he decided if he were to do anything differently to improve it, he would add a little bit more padding in the bottom of the cup in which the egg was riding.

end of the school year writing/reflection exercise. and i always liked this “ways writers keep going” sign his teacher had up, so i figured i’d document it as well, in case we want to refer back to its helpful suggestions in the future.

writing assessment for fourth grade – about his fishing pole

poetry unit “owl quinn” acrostic poem.

spirit animals fan fiction! this series of images is from his journal, which his dad wanted to hang onto, and so i documented it all before sending it to his house.

quinn comics series; i know he spent much of his free-write time creating this series.

map of his special place – his bedroom at home!

his journal also contained writing about albert einstein, ralph waldo emerson, and ghandi.

 

deschooling involved some free time on the laptop. we had further discussions about the site “cool math games,” which in times past i had more openness (not much, but more than now) for him playing, but when i walked over to see ads for “the laci peterson case. the untold story” and motor oil, i felt that i had reached my limit of tolerance for this travesty of a website. as much as he may enjoy some of the games, i have seen very little in the way of learning, much in the way of games that seem to promote compulsive mouse clicking, difficulties with letting go of screen time while playing them, issues with the site crashing my computer, and far too much advertising, including completely inappropriate ads for children to be seeing.

instead, i encouraged minecraft play, the game prodigy (which is math practice and he used in his classroom in fourth grade, and likes to play), and looking up things he wanted to learn or listen to with you tube. he listened to some ok go songs (and watched their amazing music videos) and looked up how to draw mandala tutorials, creating several beautiful ones while pausing and following along step by step with the videos.

in case this isn’t obvious to everyone in the world, this is how quinn keeps track of his favorite path through a choose-your-own-adventure novel. (but everyone does that, right?)

and this is how he reads calvin and hobbes. he stays up late into the night reading by head lamp, and this is how i find him some mornings. yay for summer vacation and sleeping in!

other fun tidbits: water play with koala; checking out his new polaroid camera, obtained for $1 at a thrift store. he hasn’t even tried it with film yet, but he’s already very much in love with looking through it.

we wound up this month with a karate sleepover! the kids stayed up and watched movies (moana and lego batman i think) and spent the night in sleeping bags on the mat. i did, too, but crept out early in the morning to go work at farmer’s market. my kiddo stayed for the saturday morning activities, including rock panting and tie-dying t-shirts, and he tie-dyed a shirt for me as well!

~a month in the life of a lifelong learner~ a may zing!

the last lifelong learner post was posted over 6 months ago! wheeee, 2017! so it’s time for a lifelong learner catch-up series. do people binge-read blog posts?

time traveling back to the end of april….

  

self-initiated dragon-drawing lessons. he got this book out of the school library, brought it home, and applied himself to learning to draw a dragon.

baby dragon book; more drawing research.

  

quinn made some linocut stamps and sent grammy a card.

 

grammy correspondence also included his newly learned skill of email!

more artwork involved a new card game he is designing.

in his tag group at school, he was supposed to join edmodo in order to coordinate things… that never really panned out, but he did open himself an edmodo account as instructed, and i mention it because i love his choice of features for his avatar, including a beard!

i received minecraft lessons from the lad and built rainbow terraces and a rainbow greenhouse in my first world.

      

class memories – love the focus on reflection (in case that wasn’t obvious about me): “my happy memory is the rubber band cars because right at the end of school i hit the sweet spot. sweet!” i’m pleased he remembers that victory, as it was one i watched him work through frustration and persevere until the very end of the school day. also from school: i have a dream poster, comic about plastic water bottles, poster about saving owls, mood meter, and his wonderful journal from 4th grade. i got a tour during his school conference, and was very impressed with the writing he had been doing, including a fan-fiction spin-off of the spirit animals series. here is his synopsis on the inside front cover: “a dark force has risen from the depths of time and now it’s up to two brave kids.” i know i am dying to find out what happens!

quinn’s class also studied the native american tribes of oregon, and his project centered on the nez perce people. while making his diorama, he went into business making toothpick people for classmates, and was proud that his design was in high demand! we did a little further research at  home concerning the nez perce, because i thought he would be interested in their cultural and spiritual traditions, in particular their version of spirit animals, or weyekins, who came to an individual in spirit form, bestowed their own characteristics on the individual, and stayed with a person throughout their lives. he learned all about their way of life in order to build the model and to report on what he learned. for their project he also led his group’s presentation and although i know he would have contributed some wording, i’m pretty sure he let someone else in the group be the scribe!

he found an owl’s face in the driftwood

tidepooling always makes for wonderful lifelong learning.

certified hummingbird feeder filling technician.

 

half-orange belt test for karate! he had a great test, once again such a positive learning experience for him, including the camaraderie with his fellow students, and caring guidance from his instructor.

 

part of what i love so much about our dojo is how far beyond the karate our instructor goes to make the kids feel a part of a community. there are movie nights, board games, sleepovers, seminars with our sifu’s sifu who visits from california. in addition, sifu takes the kids running around downtown when it is a nice day, and the little main street in our town has a lovely clay studio from which giant bubbles sometimes go floating by. finally, both sifu and his wife take time with each kid to discover their passions and invest time into connecting with them. quinn has sat with each of them this month helping them make their d&d characters. i don’t know if i realized how rare this was in teachers, until i saw it in action here. i know that quinn will remember the way they’ve made him feel when he is much older, that what he cares about matters to them, and that they are so available to help him learn but also to just simply be there for him.

outside times increasing in frequency as the spring weather truly hits its stride.

and  inside times… creating a lego dragon game we played on a grammy play quilt spread out on the living room floor one afternoon.

whistling while he works! this month held a big milestone for quinn, who happened upon the ability to whistle at last! he was startled by it at first, and then was very exuberant in his practicing, excited to be able to accomplish louder notes with practice.

certified pancake flipping technician.

overnight field trip! we took our 4th graders to our state capital! it was a lovely trip, and believe me, i had some doubts about how it would be to chaperone 27 ten year olds for a sleepover in a school gym. it was extremely well planned, however, and his teacher put together a great trip. one of the places we stopped was champoeg state heritage area, where the kids got to check out the oldest barn structure in the state of oregon. inside, they ground some kernels of wheat the old fashioned way, and learned about the importance of wheat to oregon’s pioneers and overall economy. inside the museum were displays concerning native oregonians as well as pioneers. i did not get a chance to wander over to the heirloom apple orchard off to one side of the heritage area, which i would like to return to with my parents for a visit!

newell pioneer village was an easy walk from the state park entrance, and we went there to tour historical buildings like newell house, which was filled with historic artifacts, and do some experiential learning about what pioneer life might have been like. quinn liked writing with a quill pen and making “buzz saw” toys with a button and a string.

he thought being a pioneer child in a pioneer classroom was fun, including having to answer “yes, ma’am” to everything the teacher said to him, and having to stand beside his desk to answer a question, to practicing sums on his slate.

historic flood levels on a humungous cottonwood tree.

 

as pioneer children, they also got to dip candles, felt wool, and wash laundry using a washboard.

fun times with friends. before we camped on the gym floor, we took the kids to the northern lights theatre and all watched lego batman while eating pizza for dinner! this was a stroke of genius on the teacher’s part, because it enabled all of us to breathe for a few hours of fun and laughter while relaxing our head counting and behavior-curbing efforts. we had a pretty easy time as parent chaperones, given she had recruited enough of us that our ratio was essentially 2 children to 1 parent, and 1 of our 2 was our own child.

the next morning we ate cafeteria breakfast, and one of the dads made a heroic trip for a gallon of coffee to bring back for the parents. a visit to a botanical garden inspired quinn to draw this violet from memory upon our return home. i have been gleaning parenting/education support and information from an online community called “raising poppies” and this photo of quinn in the poppies makes me smile. poppies is a term that resonates much more with many poppy parents than “gifted child” and refers to the practice of “cutting down the tall poppies,” the practice of holding kids back in order to encourage uniformity in an educational setting; instead, the group focuses on how to help our tall poppies thrive in life, learning, and all the areas where they may struggle. as parents of these actual children know, poppies come with quirks that don’t always feel like a gift, and can make life extra intense sometimes. far from the common assumption that gifted kids are set up for success, there is often a lot to overcome in spite of their intelligence.

i have more to say on this topic, and still haven’t elaborated much, because it’s a really hard topic to tackle and not be perceived as humble bragging. or just plain bragging. or complaining! none of which are my intent. in reality, some of the hardest challenges of my parenting career have stemmed directly from the peculiarities of having a gifted/poppy child, especially when attempts were made to evaluate him and categorize him into one diagnosis or another. a lot of poppy parents have been there, and it’s validating to find them, because they get that asynchronous development, the hallmark characteristic of poppies, is what we were really looking at, but professionals are rarely trained to see it for what it is. asynchrony means your 3 year old may accurately tell you whether you are driving north or south, has memorized and regularly recites the lorax, is a little professor using 5 syllable words on certain topics like dinosaurs and garbage trucks, but isn’t yet sleeping through the night. it may mean your 6 year old is able to read at a high school level and do long division, speaks eloquently with adults, but does not remember to take a break to use the bathroom, and comes unglued about “his” disposable plastic water bottle being floated in the buoyancy bin and has to leave the home school group for the day. or it may mean your 10 year old is able to comprehend high school math, makes complex inferences about concepts like author’s point of view, but has his shirt on inside out and backwards and doesn’t ride a bike.

so your kid can be ages 3/1/7, or 6/15/2, or 10/18/5 in the course of any given day, encompassing all of the blessings and complications that can present.

there’s more… there are overexcitabilities, some of which, like emotional intensity, can be crippling and lead to a tendency to underachieve. there are sensory ones as well, which can make daily tasks like grinding coffee beans or vacuuming potential landmines for an epic meltdown (thankfully no longer quite so epic), and mean that your kid still can’t stand having his face or ears in the water.

i wouldn’t know anything personally about the pitfalls associated with being a poppy, but i have a post draft that i created in may 2016, and since it is not yet perfectly articulated by december of 2017, i can’t yet publish the post. when i do, its title might have something to do with how i dropped out of the tag program at my school when i was in second grade. so i definitely do not have a chip on my shoulder about this topic at all! (wink.)

i digress! the overnight field trip, continued:

   

the willamette heritage center was our next stop, and we got to tour some historic mill buildings containing impressive machinery for processing wool, learned about the industrial revolution, and more about the economy of oregon.

 

   

wandering back across the campus of willamette university (home of the aforementioned botanical garden) we also got to visit the rose garden, as well as a grove of cypress trees whose five crowns formed a star high above our heads.

 

we finished up the trip with a tour of the state capital! not only did we get to visit the house, we got to stand on the floor of the house, which is only possible if accompanied by a representative. we were in luck, and our representative david gomberg was our tour guide for our visit to the floor. this was cool, not only to get to stand on the amazing tree carpeting, but because we got to look closely at the desks occupied by representatives when the house is in session, and see such things as the buttons they push to vote yes or no on measures. after having our questions answered, we bid farewell to mr. gomberg and walked up the spiral staircase to the roof to see the gold man. finally, we visited the senate briefly, though not the floor of the senate, just the viewing balcony, with its coordinating salmon carpeting, and then we were back on the bus to head home! it was a long journey packed with learning to top off a fabulous month.

~rainbow mondays~ strength in rainbows

my rainbow windowsill dahlias in their final arrangement for the season. these last few blooms are still drying in their vases, and the plants are now going dormant under a blanket of straw. but what a blessing to have flowers from my very own garden on the thanksgiving table!

rainbow manly stuff! as surprise dates go, the tour of this manifold and its rainbow welds will go down in relationship history as one of the most surprising and delightful. i loved learning that the rainbow welds are the strongest!

pink: late season seashell cosmos lit up in the morning sun.

pink: late fall sunrise blur

red: sharing a glass of red wine with rich one evening with our pasta.

orange: the fragrance of clementines is a time machine of memory that transports me to the third trimester of my pregnancy with quinn in a single whiff.

orange: speaking of being transported, some footage of the beautiful drive to portland back at the beginning of the month…

yellow: …in a few different hues…

yellow: i could not resist snapping a blurry photo of this awesome yellow truck cruising past the rainbow lanes bowling alley.

yellow: sunday pumpkin pancakes in holiday shapes thanks to a fun new kitchen toy from my mother-outlaw-inlaw.

green: still taking inspiration from hummingbirds to keep things light this season.

blue: easier to do on days with blue skies like this.

purple: lisa kitty helping hold down my curtain fabric so it doesn’t fly away.

red violet: light and love!

 

~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

~thankful thursday~ stoking the gratitude fire

11/16/17

~30 days of gratitude~ day 16

i am thankful for dragons. we have fondly referred to our house as the dragon house since quinn was about 5 years old. all three of us love dragons. like many households in oregon, there is a head on the wall as part of our interior décor, but in our case, it’s a sculpted glittering dragon, not an elk.

a friend commented on my post for days 11-13 about edges, that dragons used to be drawn on the edges of maps by cartographers who had reached the limit of their geographical knowledge. it took me until just now to put that together with my dragon loving husband who likes to drive off the edges of maps for fun (which i mentioned on day 9).

my friend also mentioned how dragons traditionally guard treasures of rare and unsurpassed value, and i think that in retrospect, this makes them a very fitting guardian of our household. dragons also stood guard over our wedding!

quinn knows that all the best stories contain dragons. he had a dragon theme for his 8th birthday party, and is often to be found playing video games that involve dragons, reading the wings of fire series about dragons, or creating characters and landscapes for dungeons and, yep, you guessed it, dragons.

there is so much to love. their mystery, their magical capabilities, their indomitable spirit. their ability to wield fire.

fire dragons can be protectors, exhibiting strength and courage. i also think of them having enthusiasm and energy, ready to overcome obstacles in the path.

water dragons might be more concerned with connection, depth, transformation, peace, compassion, healing. but that doesn’t mean they lack courage and passion.

my relationship with fire has been long and not always peaceful. i loved helping my dad “fix the fire” in our cellar wood-burning furnace when i was little, shoving sticks into its bright orange mouth. and of course nothing was better than summer campfires at fish creek campground. however, when our heifer barn burned down, i was only four, and i think a touch of irrational fear of fire stuck with me after that. as a person who tends to feel chilly, i do love wood stove heat in the house, and the handsome fellow who fixes that fire for me daily, and seems to be able to handle flaming hunks of wood bare-handed, is a welding fire building fiery guy. all that hotness is hard to live with, but i manage somehow. (on my tour of the manifold pictured in last night’s post, so he could show me the rainbows, i hung on his every word about how “you have to get the heat right to get the color.” did you know colorful welds are strongest? just as i would have suspected.)

but i digress. about my husband. as usual.

anyway, we’re keeping the gratitude fire stoked at the dragon house.

11/17/17

~30 days of gratitude~ day 17

jumping for joy and full of gratitude to have my dragon boy home at the dragon house.

11/18/17

~30 days of gratitude~ day 18

i am thankful for my great aunt margie. i attempted to write how i feel about her in a post a few weeks after she passed away, and just a few weeks before rich and i got married this summer. today a small memorial was held for her, and many of her loved ones were not included in that, but in a way, i can hear her saying, “i don’t want a fuss.” i don’t know the story behind why it was kept small and all but secret, but i decided instead to focus on my own grieving of her death/celebrating of her life right here, and it’s easy to feel immense gratitude for the unparalleled impact she had on my life. of course, tied up in that is incredible sadness and a gaping hole in my heart. exhausted from selling organic brussels sprouts and cauliflower and butternut squashes all day, i laid down for a while and read back through that post, and shed some more tears. after that, there was only one thing to do. so i got up and made nachos for dinner.

11/19/17

~30 days of gratitude~ day 19

i am thankful for my dog ruby. i don’t actually have my own dog, but at the same time, ruby and i both know we are human-dog soul mates. she’s only the second dog in the world i have felt that way about. i am far from a dog person, and certainly don’t love all dogs across the board. some of them are smelly and some of them are scary, and a little one bit me one time for no reason. but ruby is my doggy love. i am her fairy dog mother when her real family goes out of town or especially when they go camping. she favors comfy chairs over campgrounds. one of our favorite times to be together is for thanksgiving. her family is vegetarian, and the week she spends here while i’m cooking turkey, ham, sausage, and lots of gravy, her mom says is like a dog spa retreat. she is asleep on my lap as i type this. she may eschew camping, but she does love long walks on the beach, just one more reason we are meant to be together, once in a while, which is all i can handle of the responsibility for a canine life. quinn is thrilled to have her for the week, they also have a special bond, and to give our kitties their usual sleeping space with us, ruby gets to sleep in quinn’s room, and he loves the company. borrowing ruby is the perfect arrangement, everyone wins, especially me.

11/20/17

~30 days of gratitude~ day 20

i am grateful that although i would pretty much rather gouge out my eyeballs than play the game risk, the folks at hasbro at least made it rainbow-rific to look at. also, i am thankful my son wants me to play games with him, and thankful for the tip from my friend to serve honeybush tea with honey and heavy cream at bedtime. thankful for drinking in sweetness as the theme of this gratitude-enriched season. and also for parsnips.

11/21 and 11/22/17

~30 days of gratitude~ days 21 and 22

i am thankful for today, the penultimate dorkaversary before we celebrate six years together! rich and i have now been married for 4 months, and celebrate like goofballs when we realize any given day is a significant one (namely, the 22nd of any month), or when it’s not and we’re just happy to see each other after a long day of work. looking around on a day like this, prepping for a big feast, it’s easy to feel gratitude for all the abundance surrounding us. the food is bountiful and fresh, the boy cranking the apple slicer has grown into a competent helper, loved ones are close at hand, and a kitty is in the empty ham box. the borrowed pup is sprawled on her blanket on the couch, nose pointed towards the wood stove in worship. tomorrow the man i love will shut off the alarm and we won’t get out of bed any earlier than we want to, and we’ll be so grateful for the extra sleep.

11/23/17

~30 days of gratitude~ day 23

happy thanksgiving! it’s been a great big gratitude day here at the dragon house, stuffed with goodness and topped with gravy. i’m feeling thankful for amazon prime getting my new oven element to me on tuesday, because when it gave out on the friday before thanksgiving, it could have presented a minor source of stress (if, you know, there wanted to be anything baked for said holiday). i am thankful for a relaxing morning after a busy night of making pies, and time to play skip-bo with quinn and listen to him read to me about the ice cow goddess audhumla of norse mythology from whose udder flowed four rivers of milk, and about the rainbow bridge bifrost connecting asgard to middle earth, all from one of his library books. i am thankful for how my son’s pursuits inspire me to learn new things; i have so many questions about this cow! i am very thankful for cows, i know i mentioned growing up on a dairy farm during last year’s gratitude posts, and riding around in the passenger seat next to rich, he is used to me mooing out the windows whenever i see a pasture full of cows. i had no idea, until today, that such a cow featured in creation mythology, and i’m thoroughly intrigued. cows are the quintessence of birthing energy in my experience, which includes years of observational and participatory cow midwifery, and this choice of motherly cow likeness licking the father of norse gods (buri) into being, brings me joy. and then we can talk about rainbows some more! you can imagine my delight at having these things brought to my attention through the voice of the son i birthed into being while channeling all of my inner cow mojo over ten years ago. i am thankful for this family i am blessed to be a part of, the wonderful surprises life brings, pie crust confidence, libraries, friends, rainbows, and cows today.

~thankful thursday~ navigating transitions

11/9/17

~30 days of gratitude~ day 9

i may have already mentioned a certain man i am thankful for, but recently i’ve been specifically feeling gratitude for his navigational skills. there is just about nothing i’d rather be doing than riding in the passenger seat while he drives me anywhere. it was why we chose to go on a road trip for our honeymoon this summer. we are very happy driving places together! this still blows me away, because there was a time in my life when not only was i expected to do the navigating, i was put down for how badly i did the job. i still claim that i am better with directions at sea than on land, but i don’t think i’d be so bad at land navigation if i hadn’t been emotionally abused so much in that area. now, on the exceedingly rare occasions that rich does ask a navigational question of me, guess what? it’s okay with him if i make a mistake or simply have no idea what the answer to the question is. it’s just simply not a source of stress in our lives.

most of the time, however, nothing is required of me in this department, because rich just seems to always know which way to turn. we drove a different way to portland last weekend, back roads the whole way, until at one point he told me, “ok hang on, we’re going on a new adventure!” and put on his turn signal. it’s amazing how he never has to back track or ask for directions, and equally amazing how he turns off on so many unmarked country roads that seem like they probably don’t go anywhere, at least to my eye. we made it to portland with time to spare for coffee and a burger before the show.

in the state of oregon, his directional abilities have a lot to do with having driven his kids back and forth across the state for years on their way to track meets, basketball games, and other sporting events. he rarely even consults an atlas anymore, when we are traveling inside the state. when we drove across state lines to montana for our honeymoon, he could be found sneaking a peak at various maps. i think it is recreational reading for him to study how the roads all weave together across the terrain. all of this is lovely for me, since it means i get to ride in my favorite seat and photo-document the journey.

 

11/10/17

~30 days of gratitude~ day 10

today i am grateful for date night, rainbows, and inspirational women!

 

11/11 and 11/12 and 11/13/17

~30 days of gratitude~ days 11, 12, and 13

i am grateful for forgiveness. i sometimes lose track of days and plans and agendas and schedules whenever the week transitions from life with quinn to life without quinn. i forgive myself for not getting an A in gratitude, and skipping a few days while i regrouped (and worked, and played, and went on a date, and cooked and cleaned.) i forgive myself for putting off writing a holiday to-do list, and i forgive myself for that list being insanely long once i finally wrote it, in spite of wanting to keep the holidays simple, and i forgive myself for not checking any items off the list yet.

i’m thankful for the way ani difranco (who i got to see on friday night, so lucky, so grateful!) has managed to write lyrics that describe my life for several decades running. she had her daughter a month before i had my son (and he was almost a month overdue), and while we were both pregnant she wrote, “you’re gonna love this world if it’s the last thing i do, the whole extravagant joke topped in bittersweet chocolate goo, for someone who ain’t even here yet, look how much the world loves you…”

it feels like an extravagant joke topped in bittersweet chocolate goo to drop off my son only to turn around and get taken on a date. i miss him but i think i appreciate both him and the time alone with my man all the more for the times in between. and then i am overjoyed to pick him up a week later.

transitions are a way of life for my kiddo, who spends equal halves of his life in two separate households. he has grown so much in his ability to transition gracefully, and now he does a better job than anyone. and that’s not to mention developmental transitions that are going on all the time. into fifth grade, into percussion lessons, into packing his own school lunches, into attending theatre workshops, into defying his mama and staying awake to read his book under the covers by head lamp. more bittersweet chocolate goo!

i am thankful for how forgiveness of past hurts frees me from the poison of resentment. i am also thankful for the perspective to know the difference between forgiveness and acceptance of unacceptable behavior. forgiveness is a present i give myself, not a welcome mat for abuse.

i thank my lucky stars that my husband and i don’t venture into areas requiring forgiveness.

like the little creatures in the ocean that bioluminesce, i am trying to generate my own light during this dark time. many organisms are triggered to glow when they encounter disturbance, and transition times are a continuous source of predictable disturbance for me, like waves, like tides. i have always felt like that dynamic position in the universe where air, land and sea coalesce on the edge of the ocean is the most magical, and of course that transition between rain and sun that brings us rainbows is another personal favorite. i am thankful for the magic around the edges of things.

11/14 and 11/15/17

~30 days of gratitude~ days 14 and 15

i am thankful for rainbows in unexpected places and other surprises.

p.s. last night i was thankful for nachos again!

~thankful thursday~ birds and bees

i have been making a daily gratitude post on facebook once again this year, (if you’re interested, here are last year’s posts) and once again i will transcribe them all over here on thursdays so that my friends who have had the better judgement not to join facebook may read them.

 

11/1/17

~30 days of gratitude~ day 1

i am thankful today for hummingbirds. i am once again entering november with an inkling that i could stand to realign my partly cloudy attitude with some gratitude. today i got a text from a friend inviting me to come and see the costa’s hummingbird visiting her feeder, which i will do tomorrow. when i got home after work, i took my camera outside to visit our own hummingbirds and realized this one would let me approach it quite closely for some glamor shots. i ended last november’s gratitude fest on providence, and i think it is not coincidental that this little harbinger of joy is returning to my awareness today. while i have a tendency to let thoughts weigh me down, these tiny beings show me how they alight here and there, without all that heaviness. they change direction as often as needed; they remind me i always have a choice to redirect towards joy. they guard fiercely, but dance joyfully, and choose to drink in sweetness. they surround themselves in flowers, hovering amid beauty, embodying lightness of being. i’m grateful for their help today getting me on the right vibration for this practice.

11/2/17

~30 days of gratitude~ day 2

both cats are on my lap leaving no room for my laptop, so i’m contorting my wrists to type off to one side of the chair, it’s late after a delightful date night, and i must head to bed soon. but guys, i got home from my costa’s hummingbird visit after work, only to have my husband waving me down to the edge of the forest, flashing the “bring your camera” hand signals, and we got to hang out with this amazing barred owl for a nice long photo session. he told the owl it needed to hold on until i got home, and of course, the owl listened. the conversation went something like, “who cooks for you?” to which he replied, “my beautiful wife… she’ll be home in just a minute and i’ll introduce you!” we’ve been listening to this owl and even spied it in the dark on one of our walk-to-the-mailbox dates, but seeing it in our trees with some daylight left for photos was an unexpected treat. i am very grateful that i get to be married to a guy who appreciates the magic of the natural world as much as i do.

~30 days of gratitude~ day 3

today (yesterday… posting belatedly what was on my mind) i am thankful for the ripple effect of this 30 day gratitude practice. i would never have started doing this if i hadn’t read wonderful gratitude thoughts from good friends of mine prior to last year. then, this year, it seems i have inspired another friend to give it a try. in addition, so many great connections are made by friends whose comments also serve to amplify the gratitude. selfishly, i have been enjoying my own gratitude posts from last year, thanks to the memories feature. while it may seem a bit circular to be grateful for gratitude, i realized when my post from last year about my amazing mom came up, for whom i am forever grateful, that every one of these i write is essentially extending gratitude forward through time to influence my future self to dedicate even more neurons to feeling grateful, where the ripple effect of blessings can compound the interest on today’s investment in the thank bank. i’m envisioning this little hummingbird flying back to me in another year, tiny saddlebags overflowing with blessings that have been packed into it today, special deliveries from this present moment.

11/4/17

~30 days of gratitude~ day 4

i am thankful for my family!

i was curious about last year’s 30 items for which i was grateful, so i made a list.

2016 gratitude list

  1. fiance, wood stove fires
  2. karate and yoga
  3. mom
  4. abundance
  5. quinn
  6. laughter
  7. best woman lau
  8. big ocean waves, perspective, impermanence
  9. words
  10. music
  11. community
  12. kitties, wood stove fires, safety pins, memory loss
  13. dad
  14. the farm
  15. wood stove fires, kitties, food, baths, whiskey, coffee, soft blankets, music, home
  16. siblings
  17. books
  18. joe biden and his work advocating for women
  19. outside time to work on my garden, board games with friends, grandma’s pie crust, kids whispering to each other’s faces, farmer’s market, etc.
  20. therapy, not needing get an A in gratitude, photography
  21. love notes
  22. nachos, dorkaversaries, chats with mom, chats with friends, library, nachos
  23. wood stove fires, music, friends, family, things that are bigger than my little circumstances and help me have perspective, kitties, playing games with my kid, nachos, books, and my fiance
  24. water
  25. our kids
  26. buyers of my future book, words beginning with q
  27. role models (barbara kingsolver, jane goodall, ani difranco)
  28. dolphins
  29. awareness, friendly reminders, long hugs, e.e. cummings
  30. providence

i know that last year i fluctuated between feeling like i couldn’t possibly fit all i am grateful for into a mere 30 days, and feeling like my gratitude gland was shrunken and all the wonderful things were distant and unreachable. it makes sense, because we all have good days and bad days. right now on the gratitude-o-meter, i am feeling extra thankful, and that probably has to do with spending a day and a half on back-to-back consecutive dates with my husband, and then ending today with my son back at home with us. kitties are snuggled near the wood stove fire, good food, friends, family, and live music have been involved in the various dates, and since being home i have been serenaded via both radio and you tube. quinn typed a zombie novel inside a minecraft book, and stuffed himself with grilled cheese and tomato soup and green cauliflower and ranch dressing. feeding my people well always makes me feel like i am doing a good job at life. maybe that is why i was disproportionately thankful for nachos last year (i still am). looking back at last year’s list, i had to laugh at how repetitive i was on some of the days i remember as being the ones where gratitude was harder to access… default back to kitties, nachos, and wood stove fires if all else fails. which is code for, i love these two people and the family we are together and the home, kitties, nachos and wood stove fires we share, with all of my heart.

11/5/17

~30 days of gratitude~ day 5

sweet like candy to my soul, sweet you rock and sweet you roll ~dave matthews band

i am grateful for honey! today my honey drove us through the colorful maples and oaks of the valley to pick up our annual 4 gallon bucket of local honey, which will last us almost until this time next year. it will sweeten the pancakes and bread that will nourish us, and mix into the elderberry cough syrup i am going to make. it will feature in hot garlic and lemon beverages to doctor any winter colds. my wedding ring will keep making a happy clicking sound on the side of the honey jar every morning when i pull it out of the cupboard to add it to rich’s coffee, honey for my honey. (he sneaks into so many of these posts, that husband of mine! so grateful for him.)

 

11/6/17

~30 days of gratitude~ day 6

having sailed through most of this first week of gratitude with an apparent fixation on birds and bees, i would like to wish everyone a happy national nacho day! i am thankful for nachos, and you all already know that, but i can’t very well focus on something other than nachos, now that i know this is their official holiday! i am indebted to my friend for alerting me to this important fact. we dutifully ate nachos for dinner tonight. i realized i did not want to use a photo of nachos (which i haven’t taken, because i don’t find them all that attractive to look at, especially by dinner time in november when there’s no more light for photography), so i decided instead to post a nacho-related photo of summer. we traditionally eat a giant multi-family meal of nachos on our annual july 4th camping trip. i believe these kids, for whom i am grateful, may have just consumed said meal, because this is the way their hair lights up in the evening sun in july, and i am grateful for that, even though it’s not the way the light looks in the evening in november. if i could mother-may-i my way in large leaps towards the summer i would probably do so, but i think there must be a good reason i’m not allowed to accelerate through this part of the year. while i am waiting to learn how to embrace winter, i will spend these chilly dark nights thinking of those warm sunny days, in gratitude.

 

11/7/17

~30 days of gratitude~ day 7

today i am thankful for a beautiful sunrise.

11/8/17

~30 days of gratitude~ day 8

i’m thankful for apples today. when we got home from work and school today, quinn sat in the car and read his book. in spite of staying up reading by led candle under his covers past 11 last night, he still wanted to keep reading. i may need to have a talk with that rick riordan fellow. anyway, i decided i’d warm up some apple cider and poured some into quinn’s travel mug, and by the time i had it finished he was still in the car. i delivered it to him there, and went off to read a book and have a cup of cider myself, in the house.

our cider came from an annual gathering attended by the same families referred to in the 4th of july nachos post, and several gallons are stored in jars to see us through the winter. drinking in sweetness seems to be a theme for me this round of gratitude posts!

apples also make me think of my parents and their apple endeavors on the farm. my parents have spent the last few years rehabilitating orchards on the farm land, and my mom has become quite the expert on the local heirloom apple varieties. gratitude for apples makes me think of gratitude for my parents and the example they have set for me of a couple happily going on dates (via tractor and wagon to visit their apples) every chance they get, after 40+ years of marriage.

i think apples will always remind me of all of the connections among my friends and family members, many of which reached a new level of connectedness this summer during our wedding festivities. as quinn sipped his cider today, he mentioned how much he loves the dried apples his grammy sends him each christmas. that warmed my heart every bit as much as my warm cider.