~a month in the life of a lifelong learner~ smuggle in a dinosaur

~february 23 through march 23~


The day after quinn’s birthday, as soon as sleepover friends went home we set out for a visit to see/meet our new pancake w. rich had met her on the day she was born, but this would be quinn’s and my first time meeting this new little person, still very brand new at only two days old! Quinn has always liked babies, but i think he has a special even softer spot in his heart for his new niece, born the day before his birthday, and he wasted no time getting her into his arms.

triceratopses and tesseracts

There is a little pisces boy i know who just turned 3 who reminds me so much of quinn. he loves drumming and dinosaurs and is very articulate… when i see him he reminds me a lot of those days. His mom posted a video from his birthday of him opening a present. he gasped, “a triceratops!” then put his little hand out to the side how quinn used to do, “i love triceratopses!!!” studied it some more, found a slot with his finger, “it’s a triceratops so you can put pennies in it!” as his mom elaborated on that, he turned and looked up at the camera with this smile, “it’s for me!”

Quinn and i both watched it over and over. and then we did an anagram of the word “triceratopses” (plural) because, well duh. and i don’t know if it was because we had just re-watched a wrinkle in time that weekend, but one of the first words we found in “triceratopses” was “tesseract.”

he had some poetry homework to catch up on from missing several days of school one week. he was venting about how long the poetry unit had been and how he felt like it was making him hate poetry instead of like it. i told him he should reclaim poetry for his own, and whenever he was assigned to write a poem, smuggle in something he likes, regardless of the assigned topic. we got off on a tangent of smuggling dinosaurs into every poem. To test this idea, he would give me a topic such as “book” and i would say, “the small boy turned to the diplodocus page of his book,” and got him doing it too. all that week i’d ask “did you get a chance to smuggle in any dinos today?”

sand and sea lions

on a wednesday afternoon i picked up quinn from school and took him to the maritime museum. there were tibetan monks visiting, and they were creating a sand mandala all week. They had started creating the mandala on tuesday so by wednesday they had gotten a portion of the work done, and would keep working outward from the center until sunday when it would be swept… it is such a cool concept to me because of the celebration of impermanence, of putting time and effort and love into something in painstaking detail knowing it will all wash away… so much to reflect on there of course. a mystery and a paradox that is central to the human condition, really. i did not know quinn would be so captivated. when we went in, i gave him a tiny bit of background but not much. but he just instinctively knew it was a calm quiet space, he sat down and folded his hands and quietly watched. a woman came over to where we were sitting and watching and showed us where we could make a small mandala of our own and use the tools and get the feel of it… quinn loved making a sand mandala. he was so into it, saying, “we need to do more of this.” and then he was completely fine with brushing it all away at the end! that was the part i was most amazed about, i think. the metal tools for the sand sounded like such a happy sound, and reminded me of frogs. bayou frogs have been vocal the past week so it is starting to feel like spring, but when i said that both quinn and another little girl who was making a mandala thought i meant the wooden musical frogs (she apparently has some at her grandma’s house and quinn has one as well). the monks were all smiling and doing their work but when they’d take a break they were all on their smartphones and ipads. one of them came over to the table the kids were working at and played a video of the dissolution ceremony of the big mandala (another time they did it) to show them the idea of the whole thing, but it was just so funny (to me- the kids were not phased) to have him prop an ipad up and hit play.

something about the calm of those monks, the happy sounds of the metal tools they were using, the beauty and color of the sand, the sun glancing off the bay in through the windows. he didn’t want to leave.


on our way in he had said he wanted to visit the sea lion dock while we were on the bay front, so eventually after an hour went by i suggested a walk to the sea lions and he was ready. so we walked. he held my hand the whole walk to the sea lions, up and down the bayfront and back to the car. i know he doesn’t even really think about it but i just love that he wants to hold my hand.

at the sea lion dock we watched them for a while (there were lots, all sleeping and jockeying for sleeping positions on the floating docks) and we were commenting on their behaviors. one had a strap or collar around its neck looking like it needed to be removed and it didn’t look healthy, and quinn was moderately upset by that (“someone needs to DO something about that”). our other observations were more amusing. one huge sea lion we nicknamed grandpa was situated on the corner of the dock with his face hanging over the edge. he would lift his head enough to breathe but then let his head loll into the water. you could watch him exhaling bubbles into the water as he slept! there were other snorers above water level, whose cheeks/whiskers you could watch as they would shake or flap, and we’d point them out to each other. the way sea lions assert dominance by opening their mouth at each other… sometimes it gets much more heated with barks and bites, but a lot of times it’s, “i open my mouth in your general direction,” and that settles the dispute. we had fun doing behavioral ecology observations.

social studies homework on ancient civilizations

Also this month we played a game from christmas called tiny epic quest, that we hadn’t had a chance to play yet. It is roughly a board game d and d adventure with lots of little props and pieces and spells and quests and goblins. when he was going to school that friday morning i asked him what his best parts of the week were, and he chose making the sand mandala and playing the game.

he spent some time with his birthday present called turing tumble, a fun marble-programming gizmo with an anime workbook full of challenges that build on each otherr in story format. basically a toy made precisely for quinn.

with 2/3 of 6th grade behind him, he attended his 3rd dance (glow in the dark theme).

pie!!! lots of little blueberry pies. i dropped quinn off at the dojo on pi day (march 14th) for jump tag and pi day pie fest.

a dear friend commented on quinn’s birthday post that he might like the book navigating early by clare vanderpool so i immediately requested the audio book from our library. he loved it, finished listening to it before i had gotten to the halfway point, so continued to listen again along with me as i caught up. It’s a book that takes place in maine in 1945 about 13 year old boys, friendship, mothers and sons, and brothers. There is hiking on the appalachian trail, boat building and rowing, and fly fishing. It is also a book about pi, which coincidentally made it a wonderful book to happen to be listening to on 3/14. One of the boys in the book knows pi in colors and textures and reads the digits of pi like a story. He is not only a synesthete, but has other quirks of sensory, intellectual, and emotional intensity that remind me of someone i know who also likes numbers. sock seams and shaking water out of his face; in a metaphor for his friend’s ability to be irrationally stuck on an idea, the narrator likens his brain to a lobster in a lobster trap; literal interpretations and sureness of being right; jelly bean sorting to organize his neurons in emotionally or intellectually puzzling situations. highly recommend.

executive function skills

he remembered at 7:15am on the last day of 6 week term, after completing 2 missing assignments (for days on end) and getting up to speed on how to do his upcoming math homework, that he also had an art project to finish and hand in first period that day. doh!

one day he was getting up to speed on graphing linear equations, y= b+ mx; he knew what all the variables meant and understood what recursive functions are and how to find the ordered pairs that solve this equation and how to graph ordered pairs and find the y intercept. and yet… was getting stuck on how to do it. He did not stay stuck for long. however I spent quite a bit of energy trying to convince him that graph paper would be a good thing to use for his homework this time since it is all graphing which is what graph paper was invented for. one feels one is stating the obvious sometimes. he finally came around. again, the culprit was stuckness. having used blank paper all year for math homework he was in a groove and reluctant to change, but in the end realized it’s ok to change your way and adapt to what is happening in real time. increasing flexibility one millimeter at a time!

i distinctly recall feeling thankful for spring break on the horizon!


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