wedding week ~ one year ago today ~ part 2

~friday july 21, 2017 ~wedding eve!~

friday morning found the bride wielding a toilet plunger; nothing like extra house guests flushing extra toilet paper to help prevent excess bridal vanity. so many times during the week, i felt thankfulness for my wedding boss, who had helped me include helpful things such as “water garden” on my list, knowing i would not be able to do so again until after the tent got taken down. so, with the toilet back in working order, i turned on the sprinkler to water my still mostly green rainbow garden.

children in various states from bright eyed and bushy tailed to still a little sleepy lounged on the wood floor in the living room, each communing with their own customized lego pirate ship. quinn filled me in on details later, and told me b and z pancake each had one, luigi had one, and mario and quinn shared the fourth. he also told me about the particular crew and accessories that each kid brought on board, whether they specialized in dwarves or star wars characters, weapons and gear or food and flowers. the girls appreciated having hermione/princess leia parts to construct their captains from, and the only brief dispute i ever heard about was over the lego pizza getting jammed into the scuppers and being difficult to remove.

for a little while, rich and i sat together outside to go over some vows and some music choices, while hummingbirds zoomed around in the honeysuckle nearby. then we headed down to the wedding trees to set up some ropes for draping pretty fabric. since i have nautical experience, i was nominated to head up the ladder to tie knots, and since rich has big muscles, he was nominated to hold the ladder at its base. this also gave him his preferred viewing angle of his bride to be.



a certain game involving minecraft terminology was played while running around the yard, and the boys (all of whom were fluent in minecraft-speak) began referring to the wedding trees (the other nickname for the site we were decorating) as the “portal to the overworld,” which seemed like a nice way of looking at it.




once the trees were bedecked with fabric and best woman was chopping yellow peppers and purple cabbage and the big tent was set up in the yard, we sat with our parents for a while until my mom mentioned that she had always thought it would be fun to jump on a trampoline, but that she had never done it before. rich’s mom remembered having a small exercise trampoline and rich could remember it from when he was a kid. she said she always enjoyed it. i can’t remember who finally said, “well, here we are right next to a trampoline, no time like the present!” and instigated the moms getting on the trampoline. i got on first, and after my dad’s protective but brief, “absolutely not!” speech, he relented and helped mom up into the enclosure with me. she would have been satisfied just getting to bounce from seated position, but then we tried kneeling, and she felt like with me to hold onto, she could try standing up to bounce. it was great! then she sat back down while i did the same thing with rich’s mom, and by the end all three of us were holding hands in a circle, laughing and bouncing. rich’s mom disembarked (his dad decided not to risk it with his artificial knees) and dad came on with mom and i. after mom got off, dad really let himself jump (he even did a butt bounce! like one of the kids), and again, some of the best memories were made while we took a break from making our final wedding day preparations. grandsons in witness to the event were cheering on grammy and grampy the whole time.


(many photo credits in this post to my best woman!)




i also had some fun jumping with my fiance for one more day.




mother-of-wedding-boss (aka grammie e) brought us some blue hydrangeas from her yard, and picked up the money and list and buckets she would need for picking up flowers from the farmer’s market the next morning. again with the amazing crew! rich’s mom would also hit the market on her way in to the wedding (which also turned into chauffeuring one of my photographers from her hotel) to pick up strawberries and salad greens.

sometime that afternoon, a committee meeting was held in the hammock, but otherwise we kept busy with setting up tables and chairs, taking down the clothesline, setting up canopies, sorting out chopped veggies into coolers, brewing iced tea, sewing more prayer flags to a ribbon, staging boxes and totes of wedding gear in the shed ready to set up in the tent, and enjoying one another’s company. throughout the day, i would be handed a sandwich or a glass of water at just the right moment by my best woman, look around to find rich’s son had swept the entire outside of the house without being asked, and find others supporting me in all the possible ways they could. most of all, the man i was going to marry the next day!!!

at the time appointed by the box next to “rehearsal dinner,” my sister in law picked up pizzas,  jeany arrived and went over the script with rich and i to finalize wording, and the family members talked through their order in the procession the next day.

committee meeting in the straw bales

the next box on the list held the words, “evening shower for mb,” and i dutifully obeyed my orders.

that night after dark, my fiance and i spent our final hours as fiances going up the ladder some more, hanging up big paper lanterns in the tent, setting out boxes of tablecloths and jars, hanging up prayer flags, and getting our loveseat in place at our reception table. then we tucked each other in one last time before our wedding day!

wedding week ~ one year ago today ~ part 1

one year ago this week…

in the final weeks before our wedding, when the spirit of flat bride had me flitting around amazon clicking on 10 dollar items such as 25 yards of lace and a bottle of rose water, wedding boss was doing her level best to keep me organized and on task. or should i say, get me organized. we spent several hours together during which i typed things into schedules and shopping lists while she asked pertinent questions and reminded me of key details i mustn’t forget.

“i like it when boxes have words in them.” ~wedding boss

meanwhile back at the ranch, my fiance and i looked around and despaired that our house cleaning routine had fallen by the wayside during the busy spring, and dug in to start clearing the clutter. we called in back up from friends for the really dirty jobs like polishing the silver and scraping the stove top with a razor blade! they know who they are, and may they be blessed for selflessly cleaning up our dirt. many of our favorite wedding presents were gifts of service!

the blue shop towels that migrate out of rich’s work jeans in the dryer and then onto the top of the washing machine found their uses, while the green earplugs sourced from the same pockets and scattered across the same surface grouped themselves into a bowl, and the house became more manageable as out-of-town guests began to arrive.


the pancakes were the first to arrive, and set up camp in the front yard. it was at this point that i stopped having to do any dishes, because the dynamic duo was on the scene. just before they left a week later and i had to start emptying my own compost bin again, i tried to explain to them my gratitude for how far above and beyond their help went, but their humility had them praising others’ contributions to the team effort. but i’m getting ahead of myself!


the pancakes and quinn fell right into their familiar play routine, upgraded to an “even bigger kids” version, with the new added fun of a 15-foot trampoline in the backyard! quinn was participating in theatre camp during this time frame, but the next morning while getting ready was when we discovered that the reason for his itchy scalp upon his return from his dad’s house was not only the lack of bathing and hairbrushing for the prior two weeks, but actually head lice… so that was a busy morning, 5 days before our wedding with a trip to the airport ahead of me to retrieve the best woman that afternoon! my fiance/soon-to-be-husband continued being his wonderful jedi self and worked all the piles of laundry through the droids while i was gone, since i spent the entire morning at the end of a nit comb and only had time to make the piles, not wash and dry them.


by the way, i felt that my handling of head lice, mere days before my wedding, was very positive, compared to how i fell apart over the water being shut off two weeks earlier (which turned out to be due to a rat chewing through wiring in the well pump house), cried in the court administrator office over my name change debacle (that will be its own post), or despaired over the glass refrigerator shelf shattering while i was trying to clean it…


all of these turned into opportunities to have still more gratitude for the man i was about to marry, who handled it all with gentleness and humor, and efficient handyman fixes. i had a new plywood fridge shelf installed almost before i had all the glass cleaned up, and in every case, he magically turned my tears into laughter. by the time the head lice came along, i didn’t even cry. progress!

he waved goodbye from over the top of a giant pile of bedding and stuffed animals, and reluctantly let me drive myself to the airport to get my best woman. he didn’t reveal to me until later that he had been a little worried and thought maybe he should have been driving me. he also knew i’d be fine, but those little confessions of concern certainly make the heart feel warm and fuzzy, coming from a man who loves you. he also handled picking up quinn from camp for me that afternoon, and got him to his karate class.

it was somewhere around this time of the evening that rich received a phone call from the bartender at the local dive bar, timbers, telling rich his parents were there and would he please call back! we had a laugh over the set of circumstances leading to their 85 and 87 year old alcohol-free selves venturing into timbers, and soon they were pulling into our driveway, having driven all the way from oklahoma in a rental car.

there were so many little touching moments leading up to our wedding, of generosity from friends. we had a surprise email back from my farm on this day, concerning the veggies we had ordered for the wedding, and the matriarch of the farm didn’t charge us a penny! i had a misty-eyed moment upon reading that, having fully planned on paying for the veggies with my usual 20% discount. it recalled the previous saturday market, when i picked up 4 pounds of our favorite coffee, which i had ordered ground instead of whole beans, and my coffee guy gave it to me for half price.

one of the most frequent comments we received was usually a follow-up on the question of “how many wedding guests will you have?” no matter how many times i answered, “80,” we got responses all across the board from “that’s nice and small and quiet” to “wow a really super big wedding then!” these remarks hit the same nerve endings as having passersby on the street comment on the gender of my baby or ask his name and comment on their opinion of it, like it was somehow their territory to offer commentary on a very personal life choice of mine. probably the second most frequent comment we received from passerby on the street who knew we were entertaining many out of town family members at our house, ran along the lines of, “wow, that’s crazy,” or “you’re brave,” or “oh i would never do that!” we were overjoyed to be able to have all our family and friends in one place for a short time, though, and wouldn’t have had it any other way.

but maybe the most important thing for our self care during this hosting of many guests for two people who are usually alone together, was that we carved out frequent brief alone-together moments amidst the chaos. we normally go on a daily date when we walk to the mailbox, but during this time these walks might have been slightly more crucial to sanity than on a regular day, and maybe a teensy bit more meandering. also, whereas we normally give each other lots of solo bathroom space, we spent more bathroom time as a couple, in what we jokingly referred to as committee meetings!

once rich and i got back from settling his parents in at wedding boss’s mom’s house (my oregon family really stepped up in the department of hosting exchange family members in their homes! again with the gifts of service!), i tucked quinn in for the night. then my wedding boss, my best woman, my fiance and i worked on perfecting our wedding cocktails, working especially hard on the boysenberry bourbon smash! soon it was time to tuck in my best woman on her air mattress on the living room floor. all the tuck-ins thus completed, we tucked ourselves in as well.

~wednesday, july 19, 2017~

sometime after we went to sleep, 6 rews were landing on a plane in oregon and tucking each other in at a hotel.

when i woke up next to my fiance, we spent a good several minutes doing some extra good hugging before we got out of bed.

best woman woke up and told me a story about helping a little pancake go back to sleep on the couch in the middle of the night.

i made breakfast – huevos rancheros, and rich’s mom and dad came over to join the rest of us. i took quinn to theatre camp, and mid-day we were joined by 6 more rews, including grammy and grampy, mario and luigi, and their parents, my brother t and sister-in-law n. sometime during this day was when i realized i wouldn’t be leaving the premises to go grocery shopping, and took a break from working on our vows on my laptop to quickly type a shopping list and delegate said task to my best woman and stove-scraping good friend and together they made groceries happen.



settling mom and dad into their apartment was made all the more wonderful by wedding boss’s family and all the personal touches they went out of their way to make ready for the rews.


quinn came home from theatre camp and was enfolded into grammy’s arms and absorbed into the merrymaking.

meanwhile, pa rew played guitar, and rich’s mom and dad shared their rocks with everyone, including some beautiful pendants they gifted to the mother of the bride, best woman, and other key members of the wedding team. and also to the bride! i have been wearing my lime chrysoprase pendant and turquoise “dragon egg” quite frequently ever since then.

the groom was deployed to the liquor store with a list compiled by best woman and wedding boss the night before, and i pulled ziplock bags full of muffins out of the freezer for breakfast the next day.





my best woman made dinner that night, at my request, because she makes the best sauce, and spaghetti is a great way to feed a crowd. another friend brought over the sandwich board sign i had delegated to her to paint. the front yard transformed into even more of a gypsy caravan. after dinner the kids jumped on the trampoline and blew bubbles for each other to chase. all 5 kids – z pancake, b pancake, mario, luigi, and quinn – got along great! ages 4, 6, 7, 9 and 10!








that evening after the kids were in beds and sleeping bags, and the grandparents had retired to their getaway locations, we sat around the table chatting about songs with the remaining grown ups.

~thursday, july 20, 2017~

very early the next morning, before anyone else woke up, i saw a naked man streak across the backyard to chase off a deer who was trying to eat the rosebushes and raspberries. luckily everyone else was camped out in the front on the opposite side of the house, so i got this special view all to myself! (not pictured!!!)

this day involved a lot of nuts and bolts, such as the arrival of the porta potty and ordering of pizza and wings we would be having for the rehearsal dinner the following night.


my mom and i got to go on a mission to find her a new wristwatch, and ended up discovering that the jeweler in our small town repairs old clocks. i have plans to take my nana’s cuckoo clock in and have him take a look at it to see if he can make it work. when we stopped back at her apartment at wedding boss’s house, she gave me a pre-wedding gift. it was providence that she had forgotten to bring it to our house that morning, and instead gave it to me privately, because that saved me from crying in front of a crowd. even when i showed the beautiful quilt squares (and associated thoughtfully written “placards” on each one, as my dad called them) to my fiance, wedding boss, and best woman, they all complained of cat hair suddenly getting in their eyes.



because of wedding boss’s foresight and planning assistance, mom and best woman and i also had a brief getaway scheduled at 2 that afternoon in the yard of wedding boss, in order to do our nails. i held a snuggly koala on my lap while i dried, and then i had to go and retrieve my lad from theatre camp. after my return, best woman earned another rock pendant by helping with rich’s mom’s nails as well. father of wedding boss delivered our farm veggies, and provided comic relief during the nail session.

my stove-scraping, grocery-schlepping friend came yet again to my aid, this time with a crockpot full of her amazing potato soup to help me feed a crowd! our parents all kept commenting on what a great crew of friends i was lucky to have, and i couldn’t have agreed more. friends and family both, as the family members made each task happen more easily, and often without the assistance i thought i would be providing. whether making vinaigrettes for the wedding salads in mason jars, or gallons of iced yerba mate, check marks kept appearing beside the words in each box. the groom’s wedding shirt arrived on this day… no sweat, just in the nick of time! check.



the last two rews joined us later that afternoon, my older brother b and sister in law c. the beautiful day beckoned us to the bayou, and soon it was time to head to wedding boss’s house for a family of origin meets oregon family picnic.
















wedding boss and her team had the picnic fixings well in hand, while husband of wedding boss tended the grill and children frolicked in the great big yard. we enjoyed the beautiful summer evening, the good food, and great company. a dessert of popsicles was administered to the children, and then a cascade of plasma cars went careening down the driveway. the siblings of my family of origin were soundly beaten by my adopted oregon sister wedding boss, and one of my favorite memories of the whole week was watching the three of them racing downhill on contraptions a bit too small for adults to be riding on.



but really, there were memories competing for best memory happening one right after another. soon after plasma car races, my mom presented handmade quilts to my best woman and my wedding boss, and more cat hair (or was it pollen?) was detected in the air. we lightened up the mood listing the ways the quilts would be utilized, perhaps for a “cuddle and a cold one” later on, during which the cuddler would be sure to think of my mom and fun wedding memories.



in the days leading up to our wedding, my fiance and i looked at each other so many times realizing how blessed we are with such a wonderful assortment of friends and family, all of whom contributed in their own unique ways to a wonderful week of memories to share.


~tuesday tunes~ in my life

on the two year engage-aversary of my husband asking me to marry him, i thought a stroll down wedding memory lane, accompanied by a tune, would be just the thing.

johnny cash was the second musical artist rich told me he liked on our first date. the first was rusted root, and every other one since then has been met with enthusiastic agreement on my part, but… johnny cash. if there was one moment when i “knew” about rich, it would be hard for me to pin down, but by the time he was telling me about his love for johnny, if i hadn’t already “known,” it would have been a moment of that kind. knowing all the words to so many johnny cash songs was a matter of course for my brothers and i, as his cassette tapes lived in the aerostar minivan we rode around in as kids, as well as the green farm truck’s tape deck. a boy named sue, a burning ring of fire, water 4 feet high and rising, and a 49-50-51-52-53-54-55-56-57-58-59 automobile were integral parts of the soundtrack of my upbringing.

the song in my life appears on cash’s american 4 album, and rich and i had sung along to that, and to desperado together within the first month of our relationship. i think he took to heart the line from desperado, “you better let somebody love you before it’s too late.” he did let me love him, we kept falling in love, and from here on out, we know we are only going to love each other more…

as we were deciding on songs for the wedding, we easily chose our recessional song, and once we found rainbow love, it was a natural for the processional of our parents. the last song chosen took us a while, for my dad and i to walk in on, and maybe it was because it seemed like the most important one. we listened back to the stack of cd mixes i have made for rich over the years, roughly two per year (i often make one for our anniversary and another for when he goes to country fair). we finally got back to the very first one, mixed in june 2012, where among such favorites as neil young’s silver and gold, tom petty’s wildflowers, and the highwaymen singing true love travels on a gravel road, there was johnny cash’s solid baritone voice singing a beatles song. we knew as soon as we heard it again that it was the best way to sum up exactly what was going on here. the two of us, with our advanced age, full lives, children, and pasts; but also with a lot of work we’ve done enabling us to greet each other’s age, quirks, families, and histories with kindness. we are only going to appreciate and love each other more and more, the more of our lives we get to share.

photo credit to wedding boss, yes she really did it all! (the rest of the photos below are by my photographer-in-chief! who is also a good friend and with whom i stand shoulder to shoulder on saturdays selling veggies.)

this is when the song came on… dad helped me steady those emotions by coaching me on walking nice and slowly.

i am pretty sure this is when i was laughing because i realized i didn’t know the exact procedure for how i would unhitch from dad down at the trees, and i was picturing my dad, seasoned farmer that he is, making a wide turn and backing me in like a wagon.

“though i know i’ll never lose affection

for people and things that went before

i know i’ll often stop and think about them

in my life i love you more”


pancakes peeking in the distant corner of this photo are the type of thing i only got to see later from the wedding photos (and that also goes for where my own son was sitting in the crowd). i was looking in a very singular direction while i was taking this walk!

johnny and june have been mentioned a time or two on this blog, and an added layer of meaning in choosing this song for us was looking to our role models in the relationship category (not limited to famous people, but including our own parents and certain friends and family as well). this was a big theme we intended to celebrate on our wedding day. looking around us that day, thinking of those who’ve gone, and those who remain, appreciating the love they have given to us and have modeled for us, was a natural part of turning and looking at each other and saying, “there is no one compares with you.”

~two months in the life of a lifelong learner~ enfolded eggs part 2

continued from part 1

watching the moon with quinn one night, we saw a dragon cloud overtake the moon, sliding up its nostril and eventually becoming its eye. though the moon was enfolded in wisps of cloud, the cloud was now illuminated from within. dragons are always on our minds here at the dragon house, but especially for quinn recently as he has been reading eragon and making spinoff dragon cards for a new game. his first two creations of a wind drake and a storm drake are pictured, including an extra-spirally tail on the storm drake!

in his game about barbarians, archerers, giants, and goblins, situated among castles and builder huts, barracks and cannons and archer towers, he developed a defense of a spring coil, to propel enemies back over the wall surrounding the compound when triggered. then he modified it to have them land on yet another weapon, a tesla. he explained this electrical-magnetic device to me, and i asked him where he had learned the word tesla.

don’t you know, he read about tesla in the t section of the dictionary back in fourth grade. when he was reading the dictionary one day. as one does.

i had him browse the wikipedia article about nikola tesla and his eidetic memory and amazing mind. i thought maybe he could relate to the guy.

he still pronounces archer “archerer.” the holdouts are few and far between now, and he will reminisce with me about certain ones like “last day” for yesterday and “next day” for tomorrow, which were his staple reference points in time as a toddler. this is the type of thing i wasn’t able to anticipate about being a parent; as i’m headed up my spiral staircase, he is also wandering up his, and we’re both reaching vantage points along the way from which we are both looking back downward and outward together… it’s impossible to articulate what a trip it is.

quinn’s tag pull-out class was re-established to close out the school year. they took a field trip to an escape room, full of different locks and puzzles and codes they had to put together. he had fun, and though he said his group went over the time limit, they got to the end of all of the clues anyway. he described it all in intricate detail (such as tables with checkerboards painted on them) and was pleased to bring home a souvenir key. the kids are planning to build their own escape room to put their peers through back at school, so this was good research!

other forms of entertainment besides watching math videos this month have included a may the fourth! star wars movie night at home with (the best ever, made by rich) popcorn.

he and i played his new strategy game (from his easter basket) called odin’s ravens.

we also attended the dance performance of the wizard in oz in which several of our young friends danced.

one sunday after a women’s self defense seminar, i asked quinn to go for a jog with me. i started teaching him about which side of the road to run on, pointing out exceptions and how to make a judgement call when you’re on winding back roads with various amounts of shoulder. he is a good little runner, very uncoordinated but has endurance and is cheerful about it. i need to get him some better shoes to run in than his vans. we decided we’ll run to karate sometimes so we can be in good shape for fall cross country season.

one week quinn was sent to the library during the time his classmates did each state test session, to work on his “elo” or extra learning opportunity. he made a google slide presentation comparing mythologies from 4 different cultures (greek, roman, norse, and egyptian), as he had planned ahead to do. he missed both thursday and friday of the school week (at his dad’s house) and i learned later that he had not been collected from the library after each test session in a reliable enough manner, and that he had missed lunch period both tuesday and wednesday as a result.

i asked quinn more details about what had happened, and whereas his dad had framed the oversight as something more sinister (shame/disapproval/punishment by staff of those opting out of testing), i found out from quinn that he had been sitting in an area behind some book fair shelves on a low cushion, causing no trouble for the librarian who had her regular library classes coming and going, in addition to book fair. i explained to quinn that he has a choice of how he looks at what other people say and do, and it’s possible that his dad might interpret something in a very negative way without having all the information. we can choose just as easily to interpret what happened as an unfortunate oversight, and if we give people the benefit of the doubt that they are in a jumbled up routine and the dots didn’t connect how they were supposed to, it makes it easier to adapt. equally importantly, i also encouraged him that he can speak up for himself, and say “hey, i didn’t get lunch” to a teacher (this he did not do), who might be able to open up a box of granola bars for him at the very least. spending our energy on developing strategies to make it in the system instead of judging the system. that’s a lot of baggage i don’t want him to carry around.

as it turns out, this story has a silver lining… his friends, to whom we’ll refer as aragorn, gimli, and legolas, had grabbed him a bag of carrots and a fruit cup (the portable lunch items) and brought them to recess for him after lunch on the second day of him missing lunch, because they had his back and were worried about him missing it again. i asked him if he had been okay missing school the following two days, or if he would rather have gone, so he could be with his friends, and he said he had agreed to stay home, but that he had also wanted to go. i let him know i felt it was okay for him to insist on going, even if his dad was leaning towards having him stay home. self-advocating still a hot topic, and looks like it will be for a while yet.

quinn helped me come up with pseudonyms for his three friends, and though we explored pokemon, star wars, or naruto characters, we agreed the reference to the fellowship made perfect sense. encouraged by the friendships forming and bonds building among these four throughout fifth grade, i have been thinking of ways to try and nurture their bond over the coming summer, and into the start of sixth grade. i don’t want to necessarily hyper manage his social calendar, but i also hear a lot from the poppy moms about how hard a time so many of them have with finding and keeping friends… so being able to foster it a little bit into these middle school years feels like a good investment. they’re his friends, he made them himself, i just feel like i could nudge things in the right direction to keep the friendships going over the summer and into next year… when it may feel like it matters more to have some dependable friends.

he presented his comparative mythology research, result of the three days he spent in the library, and i was so glad i got to be there for it – because he advocated for doing it during my thursday afternoon volunteer time. i took video… it’s 14 minutes long. the sound is poor, but it’s possible to hear his voice over the bouncing yoga balls if you play it in a completely quiet room.




we had a delightful visit from our pancakes in april! lots of minecraft and dragon playing went on in between basketball games!

we attended a karate seminar with our sifu’s sifu. he’s a fun older guy with a 7th degree black belt, we like him, and he’s a good teacher. he loves quinn and i, always remembers our names. our mrs. todd was testing for her black belt (the big reason for his visit from california) and quinn was very excited to congratulate her on her promotion!


one saturday i took quinn with me to farmer’s market because rich was also working, and he was a big help again. we got to leave early, and attempted to go visit the tall ships for deck tours. however, there was a super long line and even though we stood in it for over an hour, they had to close before we could get on. quinn was very bummed, actually shed a few tears even though we had been talking about how it might happen, but he bounced back really well. i took his picture with the ships, and then we decided to try and watch their “battle sail” from the shore. we sat on the bay beach and ate our lunch and bundled up in a blanket and watched them. it worked out well, but they didn’t do much battling; gotta love when it’s too windy for sailing. by the end of our adventure, he was content. this was timely, because i really needed to use the bathroom, and i said, “i could just go over behind those bushes,” but quinn wouldn’t have it, “no! do not besmirch nature like that!” i was laughing so hard at his word choice that he wondered if he had pronounced it correctly, and i knew then for sure that it was another case of a word learned from literature. he was grinning at his correct usage and pronunciation, when i assured him he had it right. (i did not besmirch nature, i went inside the visitor’s center.)

in other vocabulary news, i have been getting called out on exaggerating things, with a quick retort of, “that’s hyperbole, mom.”

at our spring parent-teacher conference, his teacher told us what a long way quinn has come in his writing, saying he is most certainly ready for middle school in that area… “he is using appositives correctly, he’s ready for semi-colons.” (quinn chimed in, “i already do use semi-colons!”) moving right along to the next topic…

the pythagorean theorem, of course. his star test results are saying he’s ready for that type of math, and she went over again how she wants him to continue his khan academy math over the summer. she feels he is doing great, going at a good pace, and as long as he plans to continue over summer, will be in good shape to skip ahead to the 7/8 accelerated math for which she recommended him; where they learn the pythagorean theorem and then in 8th grade he’ll be walking down to the high school for geometry.

she said he’s ready for things in middle school, and recognizes that he needs a lot more challenges put in front of him than what she has been able to do in her limited way, and we get to start to expand on that in middle school. she recommended we visit with the teachers (at least for math and language arts) at the very beginning of the year to let them know that sometimes quinn needs cueing on certain executive function things, but to let them know about his test results and that he is ready for the challenges, and make sure they are putting those in front of him- there is no accelerated language arts, but she made a good point in that the students tend to get sorted a bit more by level in middle school, and i remember that… i was in enriched english and accelerated math with the same set of kids, who therefore kept showing up in my other class periods for p.e., french, science, social studies… because we had the same constraints on our schedule. this ends up meaning for quinn that his particular class for english may tend to be able to handle more advanced stuff as well.

on needing more coaching or cueing on things non-academic… he has made lots of gains in these executive function areas, but has room to grow. my job as i see it is to empower him to solve these things, and if that means an extra one hundred conversations about not avoiding bathroom use, that’s what i’ll do. i feel the same way about self advocating (about bathrooms, math classes, or parental duties to drive him to his activities,) and plan to keep the whole conversation going. the latest addition to the time management tool box is a watch, and he has been wearing it consistently and reporting on the time at regular intervals. rich and i are hoping it serves to increase his awareness of how much time various tasks require, and maybe clue him in on where he loses track of time.

on conference days, he went to work with me, set up a schedule for the day, and stuck to it while i was stuck in a freezer for 3 hours! he even did some khan academy math, a homework summary, and spent lots of time on khan computer programming (he has completed over 90 lessons as of this writing! essential items such as how to code a rainbow!). he also played a little minecraft and read some of eragon.  then he wrote music note letters into his sheet music for hedwig’s theme. over the course of these two months, he has become proficient at playing the song, and i think he is very proud of this accomplishment.

he participated in open house and the spring concert at school (they played recorders, which was priceless). all he wanted to do was go make slime in one of the classrooms, as they had a “fair” atmosphere with activities. his hands were too warm, so he got all gooey and messy.

at the nexus between quinn’s math and music concentrations, he found himself once again engrossed in vi hart’s imaginitive and fun video on “folding space-time” which turns out to be centered around a tiny hand-crank music box that will play notes punched in strips of paper. even mobius strips! vi explains how music is a great medium in which to play with the dimensions of both space and time, and my hat is off to her for enfolding so much wonder and delight into her videos, whose nerd metaphors are now permanently embedded into my son’s psyche. i couldn’t resist obtaining a music box for quinn so he, too, can fold space-time.

at quinn’s school, students are voted for by their classmates throughout the year for exemplifying each of their “eight essentials.” (the full list of eight: respect,    kindness,    patience,  selflessness,  honesty,  forgiveness,  humility  and  commitment.) quinn was nominated for the commitment award! he was very proud that his peers felt him to be a committed person. i affirmed that i observe him to be very committed: when he sets a goal, he doesn’t give up, and goes on to achieve it with focus and determination, or as our karate principles describe it, perseverance, and indomitable spirit. but also, in the sense of commitment to people he loves, or causes he believes in, i see evidence of a very caring, principled, and loyal guy!

tour of sixth grade science classroom; at his table, from left: gimli, quinn, aragorn, and legolas

something that was a pretty big deal in may was the field trip to visit the middle school! i was asked to go along as a chaperone, which was an insightful peek at how nurturing these fifth grade teachers must be. there was high intensity that day, spanning the full range of human emotion. this is a huge transition for a kid, as i well recall. i think quinn is mostly taking it in stride, is excited about the new opportunities he’ll be met with, and ready to take on this new set of challenges. he had one minor freak out about a lost raffle ticket, but his peers were all over the board with elation and trepidation.

along with the explosion in learning/absorbing, there has also been a period of emotional intensity. as a result of forgetting to take care of his basic needs for food, water, bathroom, throughout the day (executive function skills), he has had a few music lessons where he was not at his best. processing those times after the fact is also intense, requiring quite a bit of finesse to extract what is going on internally for him, and involve him in finding solutions. i have been working on finding a good balance of stern firmness (holding the line of politeness to his music teacher) and compassionate sounding board (patiently waiting for the “it” that is really bothering him to be revealed, nodding understandingly that the piece of paper he didn’t want cut that morning and the disagreement over the game with his friend caused his “really bad day”), then revisiting lessons from earlier in life about mindfulness of staying on top of processing our emotions in real time so that we don’t take them out later in the day on our unsuspecting music teacher.

by lights out the night of one such discussion, he was telling me “i love you as big as the sky, as big as the ocean all the way to the moon… no… do you know the name of any galaxies besides ours, the milky way?”


“well then, all the way past the milky way and back again eleven quintillion times.”

enfolded in the layers of all those surly emotions, there it is.

p.s. in the spirit of lifelong learning, i looked up some other galaxies. and quinn, i love you all the way to gn-z11 and back again, eleven quintillion times. (that’s 32 billion light years away, folks! it’s found in the constellation ursa major, aka the big dipper. there are also a sunflower galaxy, a whirlpool galaxy and a tadpole galaxy, all very cool looking, but they’re not as distant!)


~two months in the life of a lifelong learner~ enfolded eggs part 1

camp boss informed me that comments were inadvertently closed on the previous lifelong learner post. i have updated it so commenting is back on, and can only assume wordpress is punishing me for my 5770-word verbosity. i have not reformed myself, in fact this post is split into parts because it got out of hand again. (another cup of tea is in order if you actually plan to read this one.)

the past few months have felt like a surge in quinn’s intellectual life, in the same way that the fall and winter months felt like a time of extreme vertical growth.

now he is flexing his mind muscles… hexaflexing them, that is.

if i had to point to a day when the current intellectual surge began to sweep us along in its current, i would say it was after seeing the movie a wrinkle in time. it was spring break, and since i was working, quinn was with me at work most of the week. on wednesday, we left work early and went to the afternoon matinee. his class had seen the movie the week before, but he had been at home with his dad nursing a cold, so he had missed the field trip. they had read the book in class and we had both re-read the book at home (it sat beside the bathtub for when either of us was soaking) in preparation for seeing the film. after the movie, it was incredibly fun to share our points of view on how the movie triumphed in ways that only movies can, and ways in which it failed to honor the book we hold very dear. we agreed point for point.

near the beginning of the movie (this would only constitute a mild spoiler, but just in case: spoiler warning), there is something not from the book, but which quinn and i both felt was a good visual representation of the feelings between meg and her parents. she holds a paper hexagon that folds into itself, and one of her parents says, “my love is there, even if you can’t feel it.” meg folds the paper, and a new design appears, having flipped inside-out, and one final fold surprisingly reveals yet a third image of a brightly colored rainbow heart galaxy (quinn’s description). meg murmurs, “not gone, just enfolded.”

when we got home from the movie, i wanted to show quinn what that paper hexagon was all about, so i looked on khan academy for a tutorial on hexaflexagons, and was not disappointed.


vi hart, the author of this, and 49 other awesome videos under the heading “math for fun and glory: doodling in math,” is now a hero to quinn. and between that day and this, he has watched all 50, most of them multiple times. our hexaflexagon journey began that very day, including both trihexaflexagons like meg’s, and hexahexaflexagons which can flip to 6 different faces. i highly encourage you to watch some of vi’s math for fun and glory videos, as they are both educational and witty. some of our favorites from the hexaflex section included her warnings in the safety video concerning possible ways in which hexaflexing can go awry, warning us against, amongst other things, the danger of hexaflexaperfectionism. we started asking each other to please pass the “interdimensional void” when we wanted the black marker. probably the most quoted line by quinn has been, “perfectly healthy snakes may turn into snake loops; or worse, become decapitated. either state is fatal for the snake, as having no head can lead to starvation.”

another favorite safety concern: “a change in chirality could be a sign that your flexagon has been flipped through four-dimensional space and is possibly a highly dangerous multi-dimensional portal.”

we made our own version of meg’s hexaflexagon, as well as a pile of others with rainbow colors, snakes, celtic knots, and mandalas, each enfolded with love, of course. enfolded isn’t just a collapsing of geometric shapes upon themselves… it’s a swaddling blanket surrounding a babe in a mama’s arms, a protective cocoon around the transformation of a youngling, a container underneath the overflowing emotions of a pre-teen whose gangly limbs can relax against the sides after that which needs to spill out has receded and what is left is love.

on quinn’s next foray into math for fun and glory, he tackled spirals, fibonacci, and being a plant, in which pinecones, and other things that begin with pine-, are examined to find that their spirals are arranged according to numbers in the fibonacci sequence. i’m kind of into spirals, but this is all new and magical math to me, so it’s been inspiring to learn about it alongside my kiddo.

i wore a spiral necklace for the last month of pregnancy, and on through quinn’s babyhood. i have a pair of silver spiral earrings i wear pretty much every day. i had a fancier pair of silver spirals made for my wedding day. my wedding ring is also a spiral of sorts, and i’ve explained the meaning behind that. i resonated with midwife ina may gaskin’s descriptive writing about how babies spiral into the world head first, facing down, then turning and facing up. each time i think of spirals, i think of birth and of beginning again, always having an opportunity to return to myself, return to a grounded place. the spirals quinn started drawing when he was barely 2 years old jumped off the page at me, but then having a child is a great way to rediscover everything you know and love about the world as they hand it back to you again and again. this verbose quote from one of the parenting books i read years ago with an emotional intelligence angle uses spiral imagery to describe the normal course of human development.

from: giving the love that heals a guide for parents

by harville hendrix and helen hunt

(quoting edward edinger ego and archetype): “the process of alternation between union and separation seems to occur repeatedly throughout the life of the individual, both in childhood and in maturity. indeed, this cycle (or better, spiral) formula seems to express the basic process of the psychological development from birth to death.”

hh and hh:

“there are two rhythms that move through the developing child at the same time: oscillation from the center that expands and then returns, and progression through stages of growth as the child moves through his preordained evolution toward adulthood. the interplay of these rhythms shapes the spiral pattern of healthy growth.

oscillation begins with attachment, expands into exploration and differentiation and then subsides back into attachment again. the baby internalizes this rhythm during the first years of his life and repeats it naturally as he progresses through the stages of growth. he is born emotionally connected to his mother, and as he feels that this connection is becoming secure, he cautiously moves out (still attached) to explore and connect with his nonmaternal environment, regularly returning to his mother’s presence for reassurance.

if this first and most basic rhythm is supported and allowed to follow its natural course without impediment, it will be repeated successfully later when the child falls in love with a romantic partner- or a job, a cause, an idea, or his own child, when he becomes a parent- and then learns to express his unique self within the context of a romantic relationship or other important life experience.

in fact, all of the primary tasks of childhood recur in coordinated rhythms throughout the individual’s life. the newborn child has within him all the impulses that will later flower at their appointed time. he falls in love with someone or something. he explores it and crafts a new aspect of his identity with it; he develops new skills; he manifests caring for others. he comes to know the rhythm very well and will repeat this cycle over and over again. the degree of his success depends on how well he has completed his basic evolution during the first eighteen to twenty years of his life.

perhaps you are aware of this rhythm in your own life. think for a moment about how it shows up in your experience as a parent. when your child was born, you fell in love with him. with this marvelous and mysterious creature in your life, you began to explore the world of parenting. that may be why you are reading this book. as you cared for your newborn and got used to your new role, you acquired a new layer of identity as a “parent.” with increasing experience, you learned to handle yourself more confidently as you expanded your competence. perhaps you also sought the support and guidance of others who shared your experience, your peers in parenting. and recognizing your participation in the preservation of the race, you became interested in the welfare of others and the quality of life in society. this expansion outward is a natural cycle in our lives.

the child’s growth depends also on the other rhythm that propels him forward, even as he comes back around to revisit previous tasks. this rhythm is not just an oscillation but also a progression through distinct developmental impulses. the seeds of them all are present at birth, but each blossoms in its own time in response to an inner impulse and the readiness of the environment. if his parents have nourished the first flower appropriately, the next bud will open. each time he responds to another developmental impulse that pushes him forward through the developmental stages, he returns to his primary connection with his caretaker for the emotional security to move to the next stage. each impulse solidifies and then dissolves, one into the other. it is as if the child were being blown unerringly toward the gates of maturity by the wise breath of nature. his life flows from one transformation into another and continues to do so even after he arrives at adulthood.”


“these two rhythms of oscillation and progression move together in a pattern that is both circular and progressive, suggesting, as edinger says, a spiral. think of a spiral staircase: each step is a progression upward in space and is also a revisiting of a particular point around the circumference of a circle. we spend our lives walking up our own spiral staircases. at each turn, we get the same view we had before at the same spot, but because we are higher up, the view is broader.


the beauty of the spiral is that we will always get another chance. encountering the step again at the same place on a higher level, we can learn to do it better the next time. we can become more surefooted as we get older.

so, having fibonacci spirals delight my eleven-year-old is not so out of left field, and serves to bring me back to myself yet again.

one of the delightful revelations of the fibonacci videos was that music notes also correspond to fibonacci numbers, and it is beyond me whether this is mere magical coincidence or something more tied to the rules of nature or mathematics. what was magical coincidence, was that quinn and i were exploring the piano keyboard at nearly the same time, as it relates to his percussion and musical training. while we watched rich’s son play his alumni basketball games, i taught quinn how to draw piano keys and he kept busy for many octaves. recalling the miles of piano key doodles of my own youth, i was yet again returned to myself, this time to the sound of basketballs dribbling down the court, sneakers squeaking on the polished floor, and the scratch of a pencil across a piece of graph paper.

when making math doodles, it’s hard to avoid sometimes making a don’t-dle, but i’m excited for quinn to be launching back into drawing, a form of creativity he has always ebbed and flowed with a bit, due in part to perfectionism. the math doodle genre seems to have really struck a chord with him, and he bounced from pascal’s triangle to sierpenski’s triangle and soon he was inventing quinn’s triangle.

the compass and protractor set he got for his birthday from his aunt and uncle have been handy during this math drawing phase. one of our new favorite math shapes is a cardioid. as vi explains, a cardioid is the inverse of a parabola. but i just learned from wikipedia that a cardioid is also an envelope of a pencil of circles (enfolding them!) and, get this, a cardioid is also part of a family of curves known as sinusoidal spirals!

starting to embrace nerd metaphors: parabola, because i cardioid you. (translation: smile, because i love you.)

after watching vi hart’s story about wind and mr ug, a tale woven along a mobius strip, quinn began to ponder the interesting form of a mobius strip in a more abstract sense – he postulated that the shape of the universe might be a mobius strip, and that there is always an alternate reality for every reality we experience.

another most-frequently-watched candidate was how-to-snakes! (one greeted him in his car seat at pick up time, cradling a fibonacci pinecone… more were hiding in his room when he got home. that way he could make an oroborus; snake knuckles; baby snakelets, supersnake; borromian ring snakes; snake spirals; and a many-headed hydra snake! of course, all of this led to graph paper drawings of many different configurations of snakes.

if you peruse the list of videos, it is easy to see how a guy like quinn got sucked in, given such titles as “doodling in math: dragon dungeons” and “infinity elephants” and “are shakespeare’s plays encoded within pi?” i was finding phi angle-a-trons tucked into his homework folder that he had ostensibly constructed during class time, and he spent the duration of his parent teacher conference drawing this:

quinn even watched every episode of thanksgiving math multiple times, learning about such culinary wonders as green bean matherole, borromian onion rings, apple pi and pumpkin tau, and turduckenen-duckenen.


speaking of food, quinn has helped me immensely in the kitchen recently, cheerfully offering help or asking if he can be involved in meal preparation on a pretty regular basis… some things he has been up to: prepping and making pancakes; making broccoli soup (operating the blender); meatball/sauce prep (can opener, garlic press). he became a certified muffin baking technician, because after he got past being “not good at eggs,” he decided, “i’m going to do all of the steps in the process myself,” right down to putting in and taking out of the oven. the filling of cups with batter got frustrating, and he was getting increasingly agitated, but i made jokes. he said you could smell the frustration in the air, and i said, no, that’s just the fish frying you smell – our neighbor had given us a lingcod fillet, and we were having fish and chips for dinner. i said, “it’s confusing because they sound alike. fish frying, frustrating…” and then i’d purposely use the wrong word in every sentence thereafter. he giggled, worked through the fish fry, got a cup of water to put the rubber spatula in after each cup was filled so the batter wouldn’t be sticking to the spatula so much. problem-solving in action.

vi warned us about hexaflex-mexican-food-cravings…

quinn had bought a goose egg for $1 at farmer’s market, and he had requested that we use it for something very special involving lemon (that was after i broke the news that he could not incubate this egg and hope for it to hatch, that these were for eating.) on a saturday morning i told him my idea was to use it to make lemon filling, which we would roll up into crepes and top with whipped cream.

“ooh, can i help?”

this was after his muffin adventure of the previous evening, so i was pleasantly surprised that he was ready so soon for another kitchen marathon.

he got to work, beginning with zesting an entire lemon, about which he was extremely thorough (the recipe only called for half, but we like it zesty). then he measured all of the lemon filling ingredients into the saucepan. while he stirred, i whipped up the heavy cream, and by then the filling was simmering. i took over stirring it while it thickened, and quinn measured crepe ingredients into the blender. he sliced strawberries and then arranged them on our plates while i sliced oranges and flipped crepes. then we worked together to enfold lemon filling into each crepe, top them with whipped cream (and a sprinkle of sugar, he settled on as a final touch) and he arranged everything on plates to serve.

later that afternoon, quinn’s 5’1” frame was enfolded into my lap, curled into a ball. he pulled the fuzzy owl blanket up over his head, and said, “you find an egg.” i laughed… and said how surprised i was to have found an egg, i had only ever found one billion other eggs since giving birth to quinn. “you find an egg” is the beginning of one of the most-frequently-played pretend scenario games of the boy named quinn, a boy who has played a higher than average number of pretend scenarios in his time on earth. i never know what creature may hatch out of the egg i find, and the main narrative arc of the game revolves around my suspense and anticipation of the secret that awaits me curled inside the egg. it could be a puffin, a penguin, or an owl. it could be a dragon or a dinosaur. it could even be a pokemon character, as it was today, once we finally got back on track after my teasing about always finding eggs i’m not even looking for. that day he was spheal, and i hope my teasing did nothing to discourage him from going on having me find an egg one billion more times, even though he can’t sit on my lap curled in a ball anymore without inflicting some small amount of pain.

the following day was sunday, so i made pancakes, which we topped with strawberry rhubarb sauce and maple syrup. quinn’s weekend consisted of studying math for fun and glory and computer programming on khan academy, adding turrets and reinforced walls to his minecraft fortress (i love finding the page in the book open to portcullises), making math doodles, dabbling with his robotics kit, planning out how he is going to make a bb-8 and a lin-v8k droid after i showed him a make magazine video of a homemade bb-8 using many cheap hacks (like old speaker magnets and cut off tops of roll-on deoderants for parts of the mechanisms; making the body out of paper mache using a dollar store beach ball). he couldn’t fall asleep by bedtime. he is just in one of those spongey phases, absorbing absolutely everything and asking for more and blowing me away with how much he already knows.

quinn: tau is bigger than pi! it’s 2 pi! it’s approximately 6.28!

me: um, ok, if you say so…

quinn: mo-ommmm, you didn’t know that?!?!

continued in part 2

~rainbow mondays~ may wei

there is a whooshing sound that always seems to accompany the passage of the month of may.

i spend my weekdays pouring large volumes of water from one vessel into another, and while that is an oversimplification of what i do for my paycheck, it is how i choose to look at it when i am in good spirits about my employment. somewhere between the zen wisdom of “chop wood, carry water” (read: rich, me), and the taoist concept of wu wei or purposeful non-doing, i am most in the flow when i am doing the least amount of overthinking and pouring the largest volumes of water back and forth.

now that it is june, a photo recap seems in order; a pause to reflect on the poetic beauty of a month heralding the coming of summer. so take off your overthinking caps, and put on your heart-shaped lenses.

white: in may i sprinkled lots of flower seeds (and leftover wedding favor seed bombs) all over the yard like an overgrown fairy. dried poppy seed heads are particularly satisfying magic wands for seed dispersal.


white: snowballs!

pink: speaking of fairies, my dusty rose fairy gown columbine survived a deer eating all but one of its flower buds this spring (exposed as myth: deer don’t like columbine) and put out new buds and flowered beautifully.

pink: i’m not the only one who thinks so. i’ve caught sightings of hummingbirds enjoying the fairy gown flavor, but this is (so far) the only photo i’ve been able to capture.

pink: right after that image was captured, i discovered that hummingbirds also drink from bleeding hearts! i had no idea, and it was so captivating to watch her reach into each of the hearts and drink in the sweetness.

red: the red native columbines have been feeding sweetness to the hummingbirds lately, too, as well as providing a fun snack for the local deer pests.


orange: caledula, its vibrant color a balm for the eyes as much as its medicine heals the body.


yellow: western tanager eyeing up our cherry crop from the top of a locust.

yellow: the blooming of yellow roses reminds me that at this time last year i was trying on my wedding dress that was just arriving in the mail…

…and doing selfie photo shoots for the benefit of bffs and mom while my fiance wasn’t home.

yellow: symbolizing friendship, something i’ve been feeling particularly grateful for lately.

green: following up on her fairy gown/bleeding heart feast, my hummingbird friend sipped from the comfrey flowers for a while. the bees are also quite fond of the comfrey, which have grown up a nice weed barrier zone around two of our apple trees.

green: maple suncatcher kaleidoscope.

green: trout lily seed heads bobbing in the bayou.

green: i brought home a stray strand of shepherd’s purse in my bunch of beets last week from farmer’s market. i have a special place in my heart for this little plant with its heart-shaped seed pods. it aligns perfectly that i was buying beets to juice in order to combat anemia, when a tincture from this little stowaway played a key role in stopping my post-partum hemorrhage. i replanted this one in my garden after snapping this photo. such a trusty botanical friend could never be a weed in my book.

green-blue: violet-green swallows have taken up residence once again in our nesting box.

green-blue: i love their masks. “it’s just that they’re terribly comfortable. i think everyone will be wearing them in the future.”

blue: a house finch has been visiting the forget-me-not patches as they go to seed.

blue: i bet 0% of my readers will be surprised that a “magic fountain” delphinium found me just after my previous rainbow post entitled delphinious.

blue: it has found a home in the blue level of the rainbow terrace garden.

blue: these blue pansy seeds i planted last spring have become a thriving patch of vibrant blue flowers.

blue: this knapweed volunteered in a corner of our yard where my husband has been diligently reclaiming space from overgrown shrubs, ivy, and blackberry. last year it produced one flower, and this year it has several blooms so far.

purple: the resident fairy has been known to wave a columbine wand or two around each fall, and i think my efforts are starting to pay off in the purple columbine patch in our front yard. there is a single (not pictured) and a double ruffled variety whose areas have expanded substantially.

purple: my husband got me a new spray nozzle, and when faced with color choices, he knew just what to choose.

purple: comfrey flower spirals, love.

red violet: the honeysuckle dragons have bloomed this past week! they foretell of a whole season’s worth of sweetness to drink in.

~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

~two months in the life of a lifelong learner~ percolator

a long and winding hodge podge of learning and living that i have decided to stop editing and move on from… read at your own risk (warning! verbosity ahead!), and probably pour yourself a cup of tea first.

science fair! i had the privilege of being the science fair mentor for quinn’s 5th grade class. his teacher had a very clear plan and it made it very easy to guide the kids through the process of gathering their data. they worked in groups to build worm compost bins, and then ran experiments based on, in most cases, food preferences of the worms. quinn’s group chose to compare the worms’ preference for raw potato to cooked potato, by adding equal amounts of each food at the start of the 4 weeks, and weighing what was left of each type after each week passed.

after i got done doing science with the kids one afternoon, i had a great conversation with quinn’s teacher. i opted quinn out of the state smarter balanced testing this year. it’s a matter of filling out a form, and since the detriments to quinn seemed to be outweighing the benefits, i filled out the form. his teacher had emailed me about another test called oaks science, that he will take as a 5th grader, and letting me know that if we wanted to try to opt out of the OAKS, it required a religious or learning disability reason and apparently involves a great deal of writing on the parents’ part.

this is all aside from star testing which actually provides some insight on specific skills; in quinn’s case the insights are limited based on how far out of range he scores. he still takes a star test at the beginning and end of the year.

i had emailed her back explaining our reasoning for the SB opt out was that Q was showing signs of stress last year and that all the rest of my misgivings about standardized testing aside, that particular test doesn’t even seem like it offers teachers any feedback on how to help kids learn. i have seen the results for the past two years, which aren’t returned until fall (when quinn wlil be a 6th grader with a different set of teachers) and seemed fairly useless to me.

i asked her what her take on the OAKS was, whether it was like SB, whether she felt some other way about SB, acknowledging that i’m not the teacher, and want to know if i am missing some truly helpful aspect of it. i said i’m happy to write something though i could prove neither religious nor learning disability for quinn.

she eased any potential worries about the science test, said she thinks he should take it because it’s far less involved… 40 science questions with definite answers, not open-ended essays. she doesn’t think it will stress him out the same way the other one did, she sees that he gets hung up on writing answers, he percolates in his mind and it takes him a while to start writing. i loved that she has such an accurate observation of him, and also that she phrases it in such positive terms; she says she is fascinated by his differences. if she saw any sign that he was experiencing stress from the science test, she would “find a glitch” and that would be that.

she ended up sharing her own dislike of the sb tests, is glad i’m opting quinn out of them, encouraged us to opt out all the way through high school, and even finds the star only so useful for his level. she feels what he might really benefit from is tag testing, and even moreso, pre-sat testing when he gets to middle school. she told me she thinks i will really need to advocate for him over there, because she feels he really needs more tag programming and isn’t getting it. i’m so glad i shared my reasoning for opting out, because i think it freed her to share her take on things, and it turns out she is a pretty incredible ally in terms of seeing clearly what is needed with this boy’s education.

we planned what he will do during testing week, and while there were several good options for students opting out, we agreed the best was for him to do an independent project. she liked the concept of genius hour that google uses to foster ingenuity, and she felt quinn could handle an open-ended project on a topic of his choice. she wanted it to entail some sort of end product that he could then share with the class (a presentation, animation, essay, artwork, etc.)

she was also supportive about us going to new york for a week, saying he will learn a lot from traveling!

“percolating” is such a perfect word to describe quinn’s thinking process, especially when it comes to getting ready to write something. he does most of his work inside his head, then it comes pouring out in the eleventh hour, spilling onto the page in a form that requires little editing. what wonderful images and memories the word “percolator” brings to mind: from recent fourth of july camping trips, enjoying breakfast around the campfire, to long ago visits with aunt margie and uncle george in their cabin in the adirondacks. again, it’s amazing to find someone who has the capacity to observe such things about my kid so thoroughly in spite of the fact that he is “number 27” out of 30 kids in her room. seen, known, valued for who he is; sense of belonging, connection. see also: educational priorities.

this story has been percolating along, about a page every few weeks or so…

mapping was a big topic covered in recent weeks. quinn’s imaginary land of canith has realistic longitude and latitude lines, a legend, and all the physical features of a map that you could want!

his tag class also included some compass and map work. another week involved animal tracks. one week, they worked outside and made miniature shelters. at the end the instructor let them all destroy their structures, but quinn had built his off to one side by a rock and said he was the only kid who decided to leave his up in case a squirrel needed a place to hide.

i picked quinn up from school one afternoon, and he was his usual one-word answer, surly after school self, which i’ve come to think of as “feed me” and so i didn’t start asking a bunch of questions (i’ve learned to wait until later for the most part). he was coming from a dad day and therefore no lunch leftovers to eat, but i had a tangerine. i did ask if he had remembered to bring his state book home (because when i was in class for science fair on thursday, his teacher had mentioned he still needed to finish it up). he said no. then when i asked if we should go back in for it, he provided self-defeated answers, “no, we can’t, because…” and “it’s raining” and “we’ll get hypothermia.” in the meantime, i had showed him the pack of brightly colored paper i had picked up (including martian green and cosmic orange) for making more of the origami octahedron project he liked doing the previous week at school. i had gotten a smile out of him with the martian conversation (because he read it aloud and then i said oh, like marTEEans, from martia?) but he was still mopey, so i re-parked and started peeling the tangerine, and then handed him a slice, calling it a marTEEan orange power pack, and said it would protect him from hypothermia as we returned to the mother ship… and also from scurvy. and by then he was laughing and walking in the rain into the school to get his stuff. and he said they were cosmic orange power packs, duh.

so, handling moody tweens is easy. just be a goofball. and provide snacks.

in his homework folder, he had a handwritten note from a friend saying to please bring himself and his family to go bowling at 3:30. (no bumpers). no date was specified, so i asked quinn, and he was pretty sure it meant the following day, saturday. luckily, i had background info that this boy’s dad is a fb friend of mine and rich’s due to being in one flew over the cuckoo’s nest with rich, so i did some parental fact checking, and sure enough, it was legit. the response i got was, “i had no idea the Quinn he was talking about was your Quinn!”

our two families got along quite well, and the boys are a lot alike. two smarty pants stick figures.

after bowling, we had dinner with rich’s mom and some friends, which was fun and fancy. quinn did well with the fancy factor (napkin in the lap, multiple forks and spoons and courses). he is fun to be around, which i’m glad i can say about my ten year old. here he is at home the next day eating the leftovers of his herb chicken, still painstakingly scrubbing his sprig of rosemary and slice of lemon over each bite before consuming.

it’s been a time of ups and downs with friendships for quinn. while nothing major has taken place, i get the sense that things are shifting a bit for him and he is finding that he values certain things in friends, some of which he hasn’t quite found yet. one friend he has thought of as a best friend named another boy as his best friend while he and quinn were playing one day. i had a chat with quinn after overhearing that, deciding to risk bringing up a touchy subject rather than let it go untalked about. it did definitely come up on his radar, though he didn’t give it any energy with the friend. he got his feelings about it out with me, and though it didn’t feel great, he also realized it didn’t have to mean anything terrible, either.

we talked more about what he values in a friend. one thing he likes about the bowling friend (he’s going to need a pseudonym soon, i can tell) is that, “he understands what i’m saying.” i probed further to find out that what he means by that is, the vocabulary and language quinn uses are understood and do not need further explanation with this boy, do not need to be simplified or defined. they keep up with each other. they have a compatible sense of humor in that they both like word play, and they can get pretty complicated with their discussion topics without needing to slow down.

there’s a lot going on in social development. some intriguing correspondence from a female karate friend inspired quinn to respond in cursive to her letter. i’m glad to find that: he is eager to fill me on the details and let me read both his and her notes; that he seems to have a sense of the appropriate level of friendship at this age level and kept it all in friend terms; and that he writes with good reciprocity, both sharing some of his ideas but also asking her likes and favorites.

i just wanted to mention/appreciate that i love my dojo. sifu and mrs. todd have been so supportive of working with quinn in the limited time they have with him (to date his dad has remained insistent that he cannot bring him to class during his week) and they’ll even refuse to charge me full price for quinn since he is there only half of the time. meanwhile, they work hard to catch him up on his techniques when he is around, and they see who he is and what his strengths are, and emphasize those while helping him in areas where he is not as strong. they recognize things like perfectionism (they ease up the test pressure and focus on the fun), they recognize his desire to one day teach, and his cognitive abilities to retain all the details about each move of each technique, and they put him to work helping other students. i talked with them about how i feel he will become less tolerant of his dad’s refusal to bring him to activities, as he becomes a teen, and sifu was in agreement that time would come. it’s what i hope for with everyone who enters quinn’s life in any meaningful way, that the focus will be on quinn and what is best for quinn, that quinn will be seen and known and valued for who he is, and that the connection is alive and foremost between him and anyone in a teaching capacity. (once again, see educational priorities.)

they constantly express how happy they are that we’re a part of the dojo, so i know the feeling is mutual!

he has been reading up on egyptian mythology, and requesting books on hieroglyph translation! he also read riordan’s greek heroes tome, now that he has read pretty much everything else the man has written.

cats are sacred in egyptian culture, right? this one expects to be worshipped… the past few months she often helps quinn fall asleep at night and wake up in the morning.

one morning the day of his music lesson, i got him up a half hour early and he played a full third of the drum section of his book… he has much better focus in the morning. we have had some discussion about how he may need to work at the bells harder (the snare drum just comes so easily to him) but that it will be just as rewarding or even more so to get better at the bells, since he will have to work harder. i’m trying to do things to keep practice fun for him, and continue to help him when he gets stuck in perfectionism mode. rich helps by furthering his musical education, putting beatles cds on the stereo. i mix up what instruments we play (recorder, guitar, piano, miscellaneous percussion), rename his tunes, play along with him on a drum, piano, or recorder, and inform him of silly lyrics trivia.

quinn and i went to the talent show at his school, because his friend (of the bowling invite) was in a skit and also playing his guitar in the show. we ended up sitting right in front of his friend’s family and that was cool and random. he came to sit with us and they got to chat. after we left i was musing with quinn about the band they’ll form together, and quinn thinks they need more players, “like maybe a flute and a trumpet?”

we try to fit in a few of the “art fridays” classes offered through the visual arts center, and the one called mayan metalsmithing caught quinn’s eye this session. he loved the owl image he saw in one drawing, and ended up borrowing from that idea to make a very intricate pyramid with symbols representing four elements and other details. he certainly had fun using this new and different medium for creating.

we had a fabulous family visit in new york, complete with lots of learning about: wizard chess, drums, winter olympics sports, shelter building practice, plane de-icers, and the origami yoda series his cousins had out from the library.

i got quinn on friday from school, and took him to his “mayan metalsmithing” art class at the visual arts center. we went home, ate pizza for dinner, and got ourselves packed up.

before the trip, we got to spend the afternoon with rich’s daughter. she had on hgtv show called fixerupper, which was impossible for quinn to pull himself away from. still, he manages to learn things, and while we were waiting in the airport he told me that he wants a fixer-upper and to fund his paleontology research by flipping houses. his exact words were that he would “use the money for more expeditions and plaster”. i encouraged him to learn all the building skills he possibly can from his dad, so he can put them to good use. i think it’s an excellent plan, better than trying to compete for grants. the part he loved the best was taking a “blank” room (his word) and deciding what to do with it and putting all the things in it (he will also have a warehouse… to hold the optional items.)

we took a red-eye flight there as usual. as we were landing in newark, quinn and i were able to see the empire state building and the statue of liberty from the plane. flying to syracuse, quinn spent a long time looking out the window at the view of snowy new york countryside – i can picture him gazing out with his with hands folded in his lap.

i will also be able to picture quinn’s cute upturned face when he finally hugged grammy.  their bond is like nothing else in the world.

after some soup and corn muffins for lunch, the boys began dueling with lightsabers. as soon as that got rowdy, i strongly suggested we go sledding before the snow melted all the way, and we had a fun afternoon sledding, tobogganing, and generally playing in the snow.

we had a picnic dinner, as is the christmas tradition of the rews, and since we haven’t all been there for one since quinn was just shy of 2, we observed the christmas picnic tradition together.

by the time i woke up the next morning, uncle t and grampy had already left for work, and quinn had gotten up and was on the loveseat snuggling with grammy, just the two of them, just chatting. lots of cousin play time happened, and quinn began drawing a game on graph paper in his spare moments. quinn and i talked some about being a person who needs to do some recharging in between being with people, and i see how self-aware he is in this department nowadays.

we had so much fun watching the olympics. we mimicked the vocalizations of the curling athletes and feigned understanding of the subtle intricacies of the sport. we cheered on the men’s bobsled teams who incredibly tied for gold, and reminisced about olympics of yore when germany was still divided into east and west. rich and i had recently learned that the berlin wall has now been down as many days as it had been up, and grampy remembered having written an essay about the berlin wall in his younger days.

quinn got up  before me again the next day, but it was because he had fallen out of bed (from a mattress on the floor, so no biggie) and he immediately went downstairs to grammy, who tucked him into her bed for another 15 minutes so he could have a gentle wake up. my favorite thing is that he doesn’t bother to wake me up, because why would he when there is a perfectly good grammy to go to?

the paper airplane shop began in earnest on this day, and lasted through the rest of the week. mario’s design for an airplane called a scooty was a big hit, and many prototypes were made. the living room was a big mess after a while, but i grabbed a brown paper bag and named it the “airplane garage” at one point, said it was time for the boys to park their airplanes in the garage if they were ready to go outside, and they were, so they did. it got called “the garage” the rest of the week.

luigi made himself a parachute and wanted to do an egg drop, and i encouraged him (he was inspired by quinn’s parachute which he had seen in oregon) and then he and i went up to the barn to drop it off the hay loft, and it worked great! he was so thrilled.

in the world of olympics, it was the day lindsey vonn was doing her downhill skiing and we were screaming our heads off just as though we actually care about skiing.

that afternoon the kids played outside in the 60 degree weather for hours on end: swinging on the tire swing, climbing trees, building shelters, riding bikes, trying to jump on the pogo stick… and generally running around in the breezy mild weather.

before dinner, boys were hanging around the table so i put a pile of place mats and napkins, a stack of plates and a pile of utensils on one end of it and asked who would like to help with setting the table. quinn and schroeder (quinn’s newest cousin) handled the whole thing. quinn made a comment that he can’t refuse because he is a certified technician, and the tone of what he said was so cheerful and positive (instead of “i’m obligated” it was more like “i feel compelled to and proud to do it.”)

quinn did so well with bedtimes and routine, possibly motivated by the fact that he then ended up being the first cousin up every morning to monopolize grammy time.

i got up early and went to see my friend the next morning and when i got home, quinn was playing chess with uncle t (who took the day off wed) and i guess they got a few games in before the other boys woke up.

we all cheered on the olympic short track skaters because… well, because!

then rich and quinn and i went to visit uncle b, and got to see his baby goats (bowie and pixie, boy and girl, so cute!) and then go to his practice space so quinn could see his drums and he could show him some stuff. i took video of each of the beats he showed quinn so i can put them on his computer for him to play back and try to replicate… he had this look of awe listening to uncle b on the drums. he was kind of shy once he got behind the drums himself and it took him a minute to play anything, but he did do the basic rhythm he knows, and then he ad libbed a little bit and it was pretty cool. uncle b said, “he’s got that rew music gene” and seemed proud to have a nephew following in his drumming foorsteps. i am so glad they got that time together. he encouraged quinn to listen to certain drummers, and named several bands who have inspired him… quinn was soaking it all in.

that night i happened upon a scene in which quinn, luigi and mario were trying to make an origami cat using a you tube video, and uncle t was trying to help them. i sat in to try to help as well, but it was a difficult one, and we ended up watching the second half and realizing we should bail. then the boys helped quinn make an easy 5-fold origami yoda they had learned, and then i put quinn to bed.

the next morning at 8:00 i started seeing snowflakes… quinn came downstairs a few minutes after 8 and it was snowing in earnest, and the sound of him gasping… priceless. he told me he never saw it snowing before, only had woken up to snow being already on the ground, so he was feeling the magic. i asked if he wanted to go out right away, but he said no, he wanted to wait until there was some on the ground and then go out and play. it just kept falling and falling all day! 8 hours later there were 6 inches on the ground, and many giant snowballs, snow people, the base of an igloo, and ski tracks. quinn’s snow person had a big base, and tapered to a very small head, and he called it the security guard.

skiing was such an intense emotional experience for him. i found all of my gear from when i was his age (miracle… shoes in attic, skis in barn. poles in cellar…) and we realized the boots fit him fine! so we snapped him into the skis, and he was excited! and then he was frustrated! and then he was angry at me! and then he was angry at skis! and then he was on top of the world again! like that, for the whole time. he was so happy to be doing it (i mean, olympics mania was not lost on the boy) and yet it did not come easily, and he fell and it didn’t feel great, and he didn’t think i was right that falling is an essential part of the learning process with skiing. later on, we had yet another conversation about how sometimes we can be perfectionists…. and i think he is gaining insight about that all the time. so all in all, i am very glad i put him on those skis, and put that good challenge in front of him, and though it was not easy, it was enjoyable and a memory he will love forever.

schroeder came over, and quinn and mario went sledding with him and they had tons of fun. the snow kept falling… then at 4:00, it stopped and the sun came out! so we retired to the indoors for tacos! it was a wonderful, snowy birthday eve.


there has been much written on the subject of this day already, a cold and rainy, paper folding, family gathering, peach pie eating, wonderful day of celebrating with his whole family all together on his birthday for the very first time.

in the morning we went to the cider mill and got to see andy and molly. they had been out of town visiting family for spring break, but it was so good to get to see them again. we got apples and donuts and went back to the house for play time until we had to leave for the airport.

quinn used his new birthday present book on star wars origami when he got home to create r2d2 and c3po. he had a frustration at one point and as i was trying to talk him through staying with it and staying calm, he told me, “i’m a perfectionist.” his increasing level-headed awareness of this inner challenge will help him so much in overcoming the associated obstacles!

he has been exploring more game programming using scratch. on one occasion he looked at trying to make a dinosaur bone digging game in scratch, and he played some other peoples’ games about dinosaurs.

he also started making a game called kashyyyk battle. one of the books i gave him for his birthday was about making star wars games in scratch. he read a bunch of it on the plane ride, and it is amazing to me how he started with making the (someone else’s icon design) whale swim across the screen to now googling “how to make gravity in scratch” and implementing all this crazy code and designing these characters himself (drawing individual pixels). yoda has a lightsaber that appears if you press space bar, to kill the clones… it’s a work in progress, but he got gravity working… and he knows exactly what he is going to do, he just needs more time to implement it all.


one afternoon, he thought of an idea for a new “story mode” game, after experiencing “scratch – story mode” and given some prior experience with “minecraft – story mode.” he worked in his graph notebook that bears the label “quinn’s games” to develop 3 characters (they bear striking resemblance to quinn himself, and his cousins mario and luigi) and began percolating some ideas about the story line of the game, in which he knew the heroes would encounter at least one dragon.

on time management… i’ve had him start using a white board to plan his time. one non-school friday he woke up just before 9 and he had until 2:30 when he’d leave for his dad’s, so i had him plan out his day in segments of 30 minutes. he got to choose when to have breakfast, lunch, music practice and homework, and then see how many other half hours were left for free choice (a game of bone wars, time to himself, time with me; i gave restrictions on my own time such as needing the time slot before his lunch free for making lunch) and he followed the plan pretty much to the letter and with only a little bit of grumbling/processing and a growing awareness of the passage of time (we used a timer for each 30 minute segment). i haven’t asked him to plan every evening, but some evenings i do bring it up, so he does less leaving things until the last minute or skipping them entirely (music practice is hard to fit in without some intentional planning, with all the karate and trying to get to bed on time and lengthy dinner and bath processes). this seemed like an area that could do with more scaffolding and coaching, and it seems like the right time to get some practice in before middle school.

one small victory in this area was that he got caught up on a whole week of reading summaries in one night. typically, he struggles against writing even one summary, and he is required to write four of them per week. he didn’t write any while we were in new york, believing he did not need to, but found out when he got back that he actually did need to. he set a goal for himself to have it done by wednesday, and worst case scenario friday, so he wouldn’t have to miss any recess to finish it at school. (that would take place after the one week grace period, so the following monday). he got home from karate one night and set to work and got 6 summaries written; not only did he get the back work done, but got himself up to date on his current homework for that week. all without a single mention from me, he just did it.

also in the department of planning ahead, he knows that he wants to do a comparison of the various mythologies he has learned about- greek, roman, egyptian, norse – when he spends his week opted out of testing.

for his karate birthday, i brought mini cupcakes and sifu gave him an amazing gift of throwing knives that quinn has been ogling in sifu’s weapons case for a while now. it’s so neat how he pays attention to what the kids care about. i brought cookies to school for his birthday on the monday he went back, since he had his actual birthday while he was in new york.

hat day ~ guitar and other instruments keep him interested in music even if his principal instrument is causing frustration ~cracking crab

“look out, snack shelf, because here comes winter storm quinn!” we had to laugh that winter storm quinn came and hit new york the week after we visited.

we celebrated st. patty’s with our local family. corned beef, green jello, plasma cars, and all the usual fixings!

quinn’s class took a 3 day field trip to outdoor school at the local omsi site known as camp grey. i chaperoned for two out of three days, so i got to photo document as well.

on day 1, the topics were marine mammals and birds. after stretching out a rope and visualizing the actual lengths of various marine mammals, from sea otter to blue whale, the kids got to cycle through stations, checking out bones, retrieving “food” out of water using different tools to represent baleen (strainer) and teeth (chopsticks), donning a blubber glove to see how much warmer it makes the water feel, dropping slinkies from their ears to the ground to test out echolocation, and designing their own marine mammal based on the adaptations they’d learned about. after lunch, they hiked to the jetty and did some great bird watching, spying an osprey nest, many cormorants, and a few other species, in addition to some harbor seals.

on day 2, our group went on a nice long hike to the beach! to warm up our brains before we left, we did an exercise using a crumpled up piece of paper to represent a watershed. the kids drew waterways where they seemed likely to exist based on the paper’s “topography”, and then the leader used a squirt bottle to demonstrate how the water would flow around the watershed. the hike involved some plant identification, a fun game of tag to represent the food web, and a fair amount of free time to explore and play.

and one certified cursive signature writing technician!

pi day!

quinn had his half-purple belt test! he tested alongside two of his peers who were receiving their green belts, so it was a pretty intense and thorough test, in which each kid was truly taken to their edge and made it back safely. each kid also had a chance to showcase the areas in which he shines, and while the other boys were both very strong in sparring, quinn’s talent for memorizing forms and for understanding theory were also displayed.


the science fair event was held at quinn’s school. i appreciated quinn’s teacher’s approach once again in that her class did a group effort sandwich board and a nice bulletin board, and skipped the individual displays (aside from worm bins! the actual experiment!)

it was a nice opportunity to talk with his teacher about him, whereas my usual capacity as a classroom mentor or field trip chaperone doesn’t often allow for that. she is looking ahead to middle school and said that she will recommend him for the 7-8 accelerated math class beginning in the fall. even better, she knew more about the teacher than i do, and said “i want him to have her right away.” this bodes very well, coming from this wonderful teacher with whom i feel very lucky he has gotten to spend fifth grade.

i also got to hear about how she feels quinn “thinks so outside of the box” and uses language in “ways i’ve never heard from other students.” she told me, “sometimes i put quinn’s assignment  on the bottom of the pile to save it for last, it’s like dessert!

i looked over at quinn, who was listening in, and said, “it’s story ice cream in a bowl.” and he smiled.

~rainbow mondays~ delphinious

it’s the merry month of may, with flowers brought to you by april showers, and the most likely month of the year in which rainbow mondays will take place on tuesdays.

red: there is now more light reaching the leaves of our little japanese maple tree, because sometimes my husband participates in unauthorized dangerous activities while i am away at farmer’s market on saturdays. he built his bridge and walked out on it with his chain-saw-on-a-pole to saw a few limbs off of this cedar. always trying to let more light into our lives, that guy.

red: red-legged friend in my rainbow garden

orange: california poppies with forget me nots and herb robert flowers.

orange: this bee thinks comfrey flowers are the bee’s knees. you could see her orange saddle bags a little more in some other angles, but i had to choose this shot because i love how she has dived into this flower with such abandon. busy bees are certainly an apt mascot for this busy month!

yellow: the golden chain tree has bloomed its curtains of flowers.

yellow: mustard-covered fields viewed from the passenger’s seat.

green: i got to play assistant chef to the guy in the trex shirt, as he arranged plates of lemon-filled crepes with strawberries, sliced moro oranges, and whipped cream.

green: a bayou friend sipping from the newly bloomed twinberry flowers.

green: rich and i are both fascinated with the dramatic stages of budding and blooming on this chinese snowball tree. one of my favorite stages is when the flowers are still green, on their way to becoming snowballs!

blue: speaking of snow, several fields full of white flowers threw us for a loop under the warm blue sky of may when we drove through the valley. we saw signs for radish seed nearby, and i think radish flowers are white. otherwise, it could be some sort of fun flowering cover crop.

blue: also on our valley drive, we stopped at a favorite place to rest and found the wild delphinium in full bloom.

blue: it was good to immerse myself briefly in their setting; cool, blue, blossoming right where they are meant to be. their name, synonymous with the effortless, gliding grace of a spirit friend of mine, reminds me of my word of the year, streamline. a timely reminder, that i am unfurling my petals right where i need to be, too.

purple: i am grateful today for my husband’s way of knowing when i need a little aromatherapy (when he steers our walking path past the lilacs in bloom), or therapy behind the lens of my camera (making possible this here rainbow post), or simply need to be hugged for a long time and told i am loved.

~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

~rainbow mondays~ winter wishes, spring sunbeams


~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


long after today, i predict that the fragrance of lemongrass will bring me back to taking quinn to buy his first deoderant and my concurrent realization that i should really try to curtail my telling of such stories in public. and yet, i want to remember his assessment that, “i expected it not to be fun to buy deoderant, but it turned out that it was fun, because it’s like a scavenger hunt and you’re looking for your favorite one!”

in his case, that was refreshing lemongrass.

even as he’s educating me on exactly how i fall into the unpopular category (a subject on which he seems to have sprouted encyclopedic knowledge overnight upon turning 11), he is still clasping my hand as we walk down the corridor of his school after i mentored his class for science fair. he’s clear that he is not interested in being popular, nor are his friends, and even seems aware of how these social constructs are largely illusions not worth striving to attain. before climbing into his dad’s jeep, he slides me the index card on which his password is printed for logging into his middle school course registration. i may be embarrassingly unpopular, but i’m dependable, and he trusts me.

several years ago, grammy helped quinn make some soap for me as a christmas present. he added some fragrance to the heart-shaped little soaps, some lavender and some lemongrass. he chose what he felt i’d like best from grammy’s array of essential oil options. ever since then, he has loved lemongrass as a fragrance, maybe because of how it reminds him of the fresh squeezed lemonade he loves to buy at the farmer’s market, but probably because of that special time making soap with grammy.

my favorite scent also comes from my grandmother, my mom’s mom, nana. i am the image of her projected forward through time, i’ve been told all my life; also my expressions and mannerisms liken me to her, and even though she died when i was four, my connection to her has remained strong in my consciousness. i asked my mom recently about the (embarrassingly unpopular) subject of night sweats, and whether this odd temperature experience (traditionally, i am cold, not hot or sweaty) may be an early indication of menopause, she set my mind at ease about her comparatively graceful and smooth transition through the hormonal changes, nicely compressed into a two year period near age 50. my sense of relief quickly dissolved when she went on, “nana, on the other hand, had about a forty-year menopause!” so, you know, i can see that i have a lot to look forward to in the next decade or three.

rainbow polaroid photo credit: nana, 1980

the cherry almond scent of nana’s hand lotion will never fail to make me feel like her soft hands are enfolding mine, sharing the excess with me. i like the way that scent is a time capsule of nana memory, and my own deoderant includes that identical almond fragrance. i make my own, and here is all the tutorial i can stand to type: coconut oil, baking soda, corn starch, and essential oils. right now it only has to be ph-balanced for a polar bear (arctic fox?) since i’m working in a freezer and have ceased to sweat, but it worked pretty well before that, too.

and don’t even get me started on maine wood spice. swoon!