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

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

time traveling back to the end of april….


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

baby dragon book; more drawing research.


quinn made some linocut stamps and sent grammy a card.


grammy correspondence also included his newly learned skill of email!

more artwork involved a new card game he is designing.

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

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


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

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

he found an owl’s face in the driftwood

tidepooling always makes for wonderful lifelong learning.

certified hummingbird feeder filling technician.


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


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

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

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

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

certified pancake flipping technician.

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

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

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

historic flood levels on a humungous cottonwood tree.


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

i digress! the overnight field trip, continued:


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



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


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

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