~a month in the life of a lifelong learner~ holy coprolites, he’s in seventh grade!

~8-23 to 9-23~

Our end of summer family trip to New York!

The cousins absconded with Quinn and were barely heard from. It was neat how at their current ages (9, 11, 12) they do a lot more talking as they play, so there is less action and a lot of times if you observe them they are just standing or sitting and discussing whatever it is they are playing. On day one they spent time outdoors and began a trend that lasted throughout the week of playing dungeons and dragons (LARPing, in other words). Quinn was dungeon master (i heard later) and uncle t was a dwarf cleric (i think i snorted with laughter at the idea of a 6’6” dwarf.) mario was a human wizard, and luigi was an elf wizard, the only one who had named himself was luigi who was “thomas cloudwhisper”. They are able to do imaginitive play on a level I don’t think Quinn finds in many other kids and it is easy to celebrate the kindred spirits that cousins can be.


They played a lot of Mario video games and minecraft throughout the week. We adults were all pretty slack with the screen time limits, but we did shoo them outside regularly. The boys were content and fell instantly into their usual routine and it was easy to let them be.

They piled themselves in the hammock that had been set up between two of the cherry trees, which was hilarious and slightly nerve-wracking with feet and elbows protruding every which way. Nobody lost an eye, though.

They took a few wagon rides up to visit the apple orchards. On one trip, the boys ran back down to the house together when it was time to head back, which was when i was able to get “the picture.

One evening at sunset, the boys were launching a spinning toy they named the “bisquito”. Whoever caught the thing got to launch it next, so everyone got turns. they were all so playful and they kept looking upward towards the sunset-painted sky, resulting in some of my favorite photos of the trip.

Chicken spiedies and black raspberry ice cream are the quintessential central new york foods, and we ate as much as we could of both.

One evening we played a lively game of scrabble with a double set (twice as many letters) so by the end the board was so overloaded it got a little silly and the boys were spelling off the edge of the board.

Uncle T figured out how to make a minecraft server that the boys can play on from each of their computers, even from thousands of miles away, if they get on at the same time. The kids played minecraft in the evening, i think they like being on the “rew family server” together. They were all reading the stack of minecraft diary of an 8-bit warrior books. Quinn has read 5 of them but they had a few more in the series that he didn’t know about so he got caught up.

We went out to dinner with the whole family and ordered a bunch of pizzas. quinn ordered two dinners- cheeseburger and chicken fingers, and ate most of them, plus some pizza…

Mittens the cat is alll about snuggling in bed with a boy and quite a few times quinn had him in bed with him including the first night we were there and the last night we were there. Mario graciously loaned cousin Quinn his bed tent for the whole week, which was really swell.

The boys filled up their red wagon with fossil rocks in the field grampy had plowed up across the road.





First day of seventh grade!

Quinn’s seventh grade schedule looks pretty rad. He starts his day with a lovely person rich and i both admire for her positivity and healthy outlook on life (she is a theater friend) for language arts. He also got his same homeroom teacher as last year, and has her now for social studies as well, which is fabulous. She is the one who said Quinn gets her jokes.

Band now seems to be a foregone conclusion for his schedule, thankfully no more parental marching into the office is needed to arrange it. He is excited to be in the first chair for the percussion section! He is one of three players, one fellow seventh grade boy and a girl who is new to the district who is in eighth grade. He practiced very hard for the audition, which was played on the bells. Their section seems to be a good group, they each have strengths and are happy to share what they know with each other.

The first homework from algebra was spiral-laterals… in which quinn drew sequences of lines according to the algorithm, and discovered that palindromes (at least a subset of palindromes whose inner numbers are lower than the bookends, so 91719 but not 46764) make squares! For math, he also had to create a “myself in numbers” design.

He doesn’t have many classes with friends, but he does have band-lunch-recess-homeroom with Aragorn, a nice section of the day during which they can interact without having consequences for his grades or ability to pay attention in class. Goldberry is in band with them, too, as well as two of the other three girls Quinn says are part of their “friend group”. It seems that 5/7 of the friend group plays in band. Somehow that seems about like my school experience.

There has been zero complaining about homework thus far. He has 100% in 3 classes, the only grades that have turned up yet (science, health, and algebra). I am already seeing some major growth from last year!



In preparation for his upcoming international travel, Quinn is getting caught up on a few vaccinations I chose to postpone when he was younger. He also needed a tdap booster for entering seventh grade, according to the school nurse. He hadn’t been seen at the new hospital facility yet, so he needed to have a whole well-child exam as well, which included a hemoglobin check. He wanted to watch his finger being pricked, and thought it was cool how the blood droplet got sucked into the cartridge. Then he wanted to watch the vaccine, (this was all based on being very anxious about it) though the nurse had been carefully not showing him the needle. She seemed to roll with his questions about the mechanics of the operation, though you could tell this wasn’t her usual experience (I’m guessing most kids just look away or cling to a parent), and what was in the syringe (“but is it a liquid?”). He watched her administer the shot and kept his muscle relaxed just like she said to do, not flinching at all.

He got home from the doctor and immediately signed on to the Rew family minecraft server and played with his cousins until they had to go get ready for bed (8:30 EST) and quinn had to get ready for karate (5:30 PST). We may institute Minecraft Mondays because i think the cousin connection is so important and even if they are connecting via chat about what kind of barricade to build around their fortress, i think that feels like very meaningful connection to them.


Text life

The paleontology camp group text featured a video from remus of her preparing a cup of tea using her microwave to heat the water. Quinn was intrigued by this amazing “life hack” as he called it and asked her for details on how long she microwaved the water for. (insert laughing emoji).

Also in the group text, Lead challenged them to only use names of rocks in place of any curse words, and quickly they came up with “what the fossil?” “’oh, coprolites.” And “holy shale!” (i didn’t suggest schist as an alternate choice!)

Phone reciprocity has seen a small incremental improvement. Often at the beginning of the week, he is better about checking it, and I may hear back from him once or twice, but then later in the week I get crickets until he is back at my house. Reframing as positive encouragement, I let him know that the goal is that by the end of the year he is 7/7 and right now he is 2/7!



At karate, Quinn helped sifu work with a younger friend who is experiencing some bullying in school, through role play scenarios.

There was Rubik’s cube work this month, and a D and d lego minecraft dungeon that he created and had me play my way through. I am often the test market for his game innovations.

He is still a lover of cartoons; Strange Planet is a new favorite, and he really liked this one that I texted him:

Somewhere between the end of summer and the beginning of school, I taught him the game Taboo. He is incredibly fun with word games, and our first round of Taboo was hilarious. We have continued laughing about some of his ways of getting me to say the word on the card, such as “lots of wood plants” for forest.

baby tending.

bathroom mopping

He got his hands on a piano at a friend’s house and picked out some favorite tunes:


Skills and tools

He is reading the newest rick riordan book trials of apollo (tyrant’s tomb) but when i asked one day if he was reading any books he said, “no, because right now i’m writing books.” he has been working on his “eternal elements” book which is sort of a d and d spinoff. he is typing it in a google doc. He feels he is faster at typing than handwriting, and it appeals more to his inner perfectionist who likes spelling, grammar, and neatness to all be good. Way to use technology as a tool, buddy.

We are also having good talks about organization and executive function skills. note taking; hearing teachers’ instructions (or not); checking the “done/submit/turn in” boxes in google classroom; putting his papers into the binder, or bringing it home thursday nights to do that the night before binder checks; he likes the notetaking set up for social studies because it is in google slides and he has no trouble keeping up; i suggested he remember that for classes he is having trouble keeping up in, and request to do it that way; he threw down the word “advocating” in one conversation and i’m just so proud. He is using his very basic $5 planner (no clutter or quotes or word searches or puzzles in the margins, just dates with lines for writing items. he has not missed a day or even a subject yet… i got it on a whim to give him the option to use it in addition to or instead of the school Avid binder and his homeroom teacher is letting him use it instead, with his four color pen – he is all about the four color pen. I think he is all about the planner just because he had a choice. Buy-in seems key with executive function, and he is starting to be bought-in on the school organization at last. The binder he has been keeping impeccably organized since he was 8? It holds Pokemon cards.

On the executive functioning topic, I learned about Seth Perler on a Tilt parenting podcast I listened to recently, and he seems to have a lot of resources and tips. A lot of it felt like validation of the adaptations we’re already making: uncluttered planners, extra scaffolding on tasks that are hard to execute, then “gradual release of responsibilities,”  and how we have to celebrate the microprogress that is made, helping identify priorities (he has daily plan templates available online), posted visual routines, web browser optimization/bookmarking, creating a sacred study space (we’ve always called it finding a successful spot after his 4th grade teacher’s phrasing), and tricking yourself into executing a non-preferred task (maybe by making it a game!). He also uses the same phrase we do, about how the only way you can eat an elephant is one bite at a time, and extends this metaphor in many ways in his speaking about tackling tasks. One thing I identified from the podcast that I want to work on doing better as a parent is giving more wait time after asking questions. The more I learn about it, the more I think processing speed plays an important role in Quinn’s struggles and Seth Perler’s coaching on waiting – longer than you think you need to wait – when listening to their answers, gave me a lot of food for thought.

He had a lot of catch up to do over the last weekend of this month but he did it cheerfully and fairly efficiently. I am encouraging him to apply some strategies to get things done more efficiently and result in more of the free time he so values. I think he’s almost to the point where he might be able to start generalizing skills he learns in one household to the other one… almost.


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