a month in the life of a lifelong learner ~ green eggs and herring eggs

2-23 to 3-23

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herring embryos under microscope; it’s bring your child to work day more often than once a year in my world.


the new hatchlings under my care; tiny eyeballs with tails!

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in the body cavities of the adult herring who supplied the gametes for our experiment were many worms of the genus anisakis, which made my former employer (a parasitologist who works down the hall from my current lab) very happy. quinn acted as her personal assistant while she observed and preserved some specimens to identify later through genetics. he’s getting to be legitimately helpful at this age…

anisakis video (click only if you like to watch parasitic worms move!)


pokemon chess; our housemate got quinn 144 or so pokemon figures for his birthday, and he quickly invented a new game, of course.


birthday grace periods are lengthy around our household, so this is how he looked opening his birthday legos (minecraft ender dragon set) from grammy and grampy.


grammy and grampy were featured in his “thankful list” written one night on a page of his journal. i suggested this as an “assignment” because he was a bit stuck on a negative thought spiral concerning one of his classmates. he readily embraced the challenge and quickly had a list of ten items written down… and more importantly, was thoroughly centered and cheerful once again.


the last time we played dungeons and dragons, quinn took me through another dungeon and reminded me that my dragon opalonyx was granted a power of blue fire by the old man of 189 years of age. i have in turn been creating a new dungeon for him that contains a dragon skeleton dig site, and a dragon egg for him to discover. we also obtained a set of story dice we could print on card stock and glue together (they are filled with rice to give them heft). these have been a fun enhancement to our adventures.

we accidentally discovered a defunct series of star wars adventures books and cards that comprise a role play game, somewhat more basic than d and d, but we’ve been able to grab a few of the books and print some of the cards online in spite of this series having been out of print much longer than it was ever in print.


that sam i am

do you like green eggs and ham on dr. seuss’s birthday? he just kept shaking his head while taking bites of his breakfast, saying, “this whole thing is just great.” his school did a whole week of  funky socks, hair and hats in honor of the good doctor, but i think i blew his mind with my breakfast surprise.

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pinewood derby

we had a winner this year! quinn’s red car (built with his dad, since it was a dad week preceding the race, and oh yeah, dad has more power tools than mama) placed first in his division, and also won an award for “sleekest.” he enjoyed his giant almond joy prize!


holding a future pinewood derby champion.

training other kids one of his karate forms during an open mat session… back to working hard on earning his next black tip, and bringing smiles.

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drums! i sat in the basement with him and sang “the mighty quinn” along to his drum beat… he was playing a basic 4/4 time standard beat, but when i started singing a song in 3/4 time (the rowing song by patty griffin, one of his favorites), he was able to quickly adapt what he knew so far to come up with a 3 beat rhythm to match the song.

he was telling me one day that he thinks about when he is grown up and that he wants to be a parent “but i also don’t want to do it like you and dada. like, you know, be broken up.” (sad face). i asked, “oh you want to have a partner you stay with?” “yes.” i know i thought a whole lot about those big things as a kid, so it’s not that surprising to me that he goes there. not surprising… and yet, it rather takes my breath away to realize he is tackling such huge concepts. i am glad to be providing a positive example of a “together” relationship with rich that, whether he realizes it yet or not, will probably have some influence on him in his future relationships.

he also recently requests “a sibling” with some frequency. other kids might say “brother or sister” but quinn and his vocabulary choose the word “sibling” instead. it’s a big opportunity for me to offer empathy (i felt the same way about wanting more siblings even though i had two perfectly good ones) and yet not alter reality according to his desires.

i got a sense of how he spent his spring break from a chat with coparent at karate: the highlight was fishing; he is really excited to fish in the lake in the new boat they fixed up together, frog. it’s named after frog girl, quinn tells me, which is a conservation-oriented tale of youth empowerment. they fished 3 times, and the first time caught 7 fish, one of which was a cutthroat trout quinn reeled in himself, the biggest of the lot. the next two times, they had one that got away, and nothing else. coparent says quinn seems to have a certain zen about that, and seems to understand that you have to go fishing a lot and will only sometimes have a good catch.

i also heard about how quinn picked out a totem in an antique store that he simply had to buy (enough that he was willing to use his own money for it) of a bear with a salmon in its mouth. quinn decided, “maybe it’s the fish god!” reverence and gratitude training, courtesy of fishing. they’ve also been having some fly tying fun, with bunny mammoths and woolly buggers.

walk-to-read and walk-to-math were completed for the school year by mid-march, in order to accommodate all the testing the kids have to get done before the end of the school year. i notice quinn seems not only unfazed by testing, but maybe even seems to like proving what he knows. he doesn’t always take tests seriously, and it is interesting to me to realize he seems to have a sense of which tests “matter” and affect his placement  (such as for walk-to classes, about which he proudly spoke of having to walk all the way to the other end of the school to the fifth grade rooms). and yet, i have watched him completely hack a test that he was taking, when it was a quiz in his raz kids reading app on the classroom ipad. he went through and answered all 10 comprehension questions “a”;  without reading any questions, he then went back and answered all the ones that still had red x’s instead of green check marks “b”; by the time he got to “c” most of the questions were green checks, so the last couple he changed to “d” and in the amount of time he would have needed to answer just a few of the questions by reading them, he had moved on to the next book to read. somehow he seems to have a handle on exactly when he needs to apply himself and take a test seriously, and when a simple hack will do. partly, he seems to like to prove himself, and other times he just wants to get back to the stories. as his mama, i have a few lessons in zen left to learn about all this testing and letting  go of my beliefs about how tests can be detrimental. this kid has always been one of my best teachers, though, so i am just holding on for the ride at this point.

3 comments to a month in the life of a lifelong learner ~ green eggs and herring eggs

  • Holly

    Hmmm…a sibling, eh? You’re definitely not too old (just ask me)! I was a sort of only child, my sister and brother were so much older that I had to pretend to fight with imaginary siblings in the back seat on long car rides. Even though my childhood was mostly wonderful, I do have a lingering feeling of loneliness that follows me from not having siblings. Also, I was pretty far into adulthood before I toughened up in relationships with friends. So, I say, go for it!!!

  • ahahaha. lucikily for rich and i, the votes of quinn and of all of our friends do not count. maybe i am not being completely clear when i mention quinn’s longing, when i omit the part about how we are definitively opposed to intentionally having more children. we are both in a place of contentment with the children (and grandchildren!) we have, and no amount of sibling rationale would sway us. the funny thing is, the logic doesn’t really hold up anyway, because if quinn had a sibling, it wouldn’t be one he would fight with or be toughened by, it would be a baby to him, and then he would leave while that baby was still a kid, just like i imagine happened to you. also, that baby would have other siblings… that are going on thirty years older than it would be… and would have the fun of nieces who are older by 4-plus years. we’re not afraid of unconventional family structure around here, but we’re also… done with having babies. that is our stance, and only if the precautions we take should let us down, would we ever welcome another baby. the precautions are neither surgical nor chemical, so we have to know where we stand on that, but the precautions are also very strict and we are very committed to them, for both of our peace of mind. i understand the ache and loneliness for siblings not had, i had two brothers but no sisters, and always longed for a sister, so i’ve added them to my life artificially as needed. as you and all my friends and sisters know, i’m not afraid to verge on the t.m.i when it comes to family planning, so there you have it! in four part harmony. my sexy grandpa and i are happy with the kids we’ve got!

  • Holly

    Darn. I hoped you’d miss my glaring error in logic. Your logic, on the other hand, is so air tight all I can do now is pray for a happy accident. 🙂

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