~a month in the life of a lifelong learner~ existence

Christmas was just the three of us. We were sick so I called off plans and visitors. There was something sweet about it, and though we missed our family we know we will see them soon. For me it resembled Rew Christmases of days of yore; we took turns opening presents and took time to express our thanks. We sank into the slow simplicity, Quinn explored his gifts and learned some html on the side; learning extra as he does when he has a break from school. Speaking of school, this fall has been pretty laid back; comparing in retrospect to sixth grade, seventh grade has been a breeze.

Quinn made me a trio of origami dolphin ornaments, which I adore and will treasure for years to come.


Quinn is rocking the texting this week! I heard from him tonight and the last few days and he’s been gone over a week so this is a big deal. getting closer to italy so the timing is perfect of course. putting in his paleontology camp application tomorrow for the first round deadline, and some of the texting was about getting letter of rec from his teacher and he texted me back “i did it” and I’m just feeling proud of the kiddo.

Quinn had a tearful moment writing his letter of intent for his paleontology camp application. He was bogging down and asking for wording suggestions… a wall went up when I suggested he not only say why he felt the camp would be fun for him, but also why he would be a good candidate for the camp – why they should invite him, why he would be a great addition to the group. It took some time to see behind the wall, but ultimately what was bugging him was trying to say he was any better than any other kid. At first he was phrasing it that he didn’t want to “make the decision for them” with his letter, and then I explained all kids applying would be writing similar letters, and the admissions people would have to make a tough decision if more than enough kids applied… well, he was just hating all of this information, but it was presenting more like anger or just simply aversion to “having to” write the letter but I didn’t go there… and then I finally got it. “Are you picturing the kids who don’t get to make it into the camp?” and the tears spilled over. Oh, not stubbornness, resistance, or aversion. Just empathy. Just intensity of emotions. That’s my kid. I finally got him convinced that most kids got in, that if there were kids who would cause problems, they’d figure it out from their teacher letters or things like that and maybe not invite those kids, and that worst case scenario, worthy kids who didn’t get in this time around get put on waiting list and get in next year. He still had scenarios he needed to cover, “what if this year would have been their only chance?”

“You mean if they’re a senior in high school?”

“Yeah.” We talked through all the scenarios, and how the instructors want for all the kids to go, and that’s why they have been expanding these camps (there are a whole panel of new ones this year- more fossil prep, one on illustration, etc.). I had been giving him words like “positive attitude” and “making contributions to group work” and he hadn’t been able to start typing yet but then I said let’s think of a time at last year’s camp when you showed these qualities… and tell it that way, like a story (finally a good idea) and he ended up using the story of last year’s camp having rainy weather and how he maintained a positive attitude and they still found fossils, and even pitched in to redo their instructor’s tent that flooded.

Since last time he was here, we have been playing lots of double nine dominoes (the game called chicken foot that Aunt Margie taught my brothers and I as kids). I guess I got a set of dominoes at the thrift store a while back and forgot about it, but they have been so fun. Funny when all the new Christmas toys are sitting here and we’re playing the 50 cent game. Hid play with his new stuff too, but playing games together might be his love language.

All the dinners last night. I made pizza for third dinner for everyone. He ate lots of pieces while playing dominoes. I am bragging about winning at point accumulation (which means I’m losing). I had market today, and while I was gone, he ate breakfast and more pizza, and by the time I got home he was back in bed asleep! He never does that. He slept for a couple hours and I woke him up at 4:30 to play more dominoes and eat more pizza.

We giggled a lot about contranyms.

As we played dominoes I would ask him one of his spelling words (on our list from words he had been misspelling that I gathered from his homework) every so often. One was field (he was writing feild). I told him about i before except after c, and then showed him, “except when your foreign neighbor Keith receives eight beige counterfeit sleighs from feisty caffeinated weightlifters.” because that also made him giggle.

He wasn’t ready to sleep last night at 10pm because of his nap, so I left him with headlamp and magic cards (his dinosaur themed deck needed some rearrangement to add in his new rampaging brontodon card from his christmas stocking) and went to bed.

I did a free two week trial of the headspace meditation app. Originally it was to help me kick off my new meditation habit, but it ended up being a help to Quinn in a few difficult moments. One afternoon, overwhelmed about his homework piling up from not being up front with his dad about how much work he had, I encouraged him to take a break and listen to his favorite song. When seven nation army didn’t do the trick and he still wasn’t feeling able to get started, I asked him to come do a five-minute meditation with me. He was still grumpy after that but no longer flopping around refusing to even start, and was able to make some headway on his work. At bedtime I told him that headspace has sleep meditations and he said, “yes!!!” with both arms thrown up in celebration. I let him choose from the options, one of which is “sleepcast” which is “storytelling in a range of soothing voices” and he scrolled through and found one with an owl icon called “sleeper mountain” and he fell asleep that night listening to a 45 minute sleep story about the mountain and meditating with crickets and forest sounds.

In thinking over what to do about Quinn’s homework stress at his dad’s, I do think something will need to be said, but I think it’s going to have to come from Quinn. I am trying to keep my eye on the long term goal of Quinn self-advocating, even with his dad. The short term fix of me bringing it up to coparent could risk a blow up and I already told Quinn I wouldn’t. I’m having an ongoing conversation with Quinn about how preventing his dad’s anxiety attacks is not his job, and that it is causing his own anxiety to increase when it gets in the way of him getting his homework done for a week at a time.

He was doing better a few nights later… mostly caught up, and in pretty good spirits.

I have always sort of figured I should be able to meditate yet I have never done it. On the other hand, I realize I actually do it all the time, just not for very long. I quiet my thoughts, focus on my breath, when I’m feeling like I need to re-center. I also do it with Quinn, so he’s quite familiar. Another morning I gave him another 5 minute headspace one and he just sat on the couch with it and it’s a beautiful thing to see him sitting with his eyes closed just breathing. What do I want for him in life? That. Being ok in there.

Q asked me for a snuggle today after school and he had me sit on couch and laid himself on my lap with two fuzzy blankets over him (he was basically in egg configuration but didn’t play the egg game just then) and then Lisa kitty came right over and climbed up on top of him and curled up and we sat that way for ten minutes. I kind of want to brag on facebook about my kid, but not necessarily that he is in bed reading statistics right now, but, “my son, age twelve years ten and a half months, five foot eight inches tall, still asks to get on my lap.” It’s mildly painful but it is so sweet at the same time.

He is writing something but I don’t know what, and when I asked he wouldn’t tell me but said, “when I’m done you can read it.” I told him I totally get that, I am the same way! The apple doesn’t fall far.

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