unschooling

lately

We’ve been bowling.

And having friends over.

We made lanterns and had a lantern walk with friends.

The kids have been playing online games with friends.

We’ve tie dyed and ice dyed.

We’ve raked leaves and picked apples.

We’ve drawn with charcoal.

Lilah has trained her cat to cuddle with her in a hammock in her room.

Gavin has made several manga portraits of friends to give as anytime gifts.

I’ve been reading.

We’ve been playing Gloomhaven and Photosynthesis and Tiny Epic Galaxies with which Chris got for his birthday.

We made lemon poppyseed baked donuts by modifying two recipes and they were delicious.

We have plans to make a Lego advent calendar, though it’s likely at least one of the kids is mostly interested in candy eating and not building.

We’ve been reading about Egyptian mythology and history.

 

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owl & owl burrows

We went out to Antelope Island and found an owl. It wasn’t it it’s usual spot but we wandered around craning our necks and found her? him? half a mile away in a tall tree. The owl was very interested in the sound of the camera shutter and was wide awake for our visit.

Then we went burrowing owl hunting. We didn’t see any owls (they migrate south around this time) but we found some burrows that we will go check again in spring.

 

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unschooling

california

We drove down to Southern California to meet Chris’ parents at Disneyland and Universal Studios. We had two totally fun filled days at the parks and a little bit (but never enough) time to just hang out and talk with family.

Chris played Ninja Tag with the kids at the hotel. Rules: each player makes one move at a time, chopping with hands or feet and if you hit another player’s limb, it gets cut off and that player has to continue without that limb. The last ninja with limbs wins.

Afterward we spent a few days at the beach. Even though it wasn’t prime tide pooling tides while we were there, we did spot some fun creatures and plants. Lilah happily spent hours looking through pools and joyously exclaiming over every discovery. Gavin loved to build and play in the water and engineered villages from rocks and driftwood.

We also went out on a boat to look for dolphins and whales. The whales were not showing themselves that day but we saw a whole school of dolphins.

And, here’s a bit of fun Lilah and I had at the place we stayed. It reminds me of Greek drama masks.

Life is good!

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painting and drawing

We’ve been trying some online art lessons together. They’ve been really fun, open ended but covering some approaches and materials the kids haven’t tried before. I’ve enjoyed them and I REALLY enjoy watching the kids creating and feeling great about their processes and finished pieces. The lessons talk about colors, perspective, light and shadow, how to use different mediums. So far we’ve used pencils, block and stick crayons, liquid and solid watercolors, and colored chalks. It’s been a good, positive experience for the three of us together. Gavin loves to add science fiction details to his and Lilah likes to add some of her own notions in terms of scenery too. I think the quiet pastoral scenes (that the guided lessons build) with faintly ominous and otherworldly ships and creatures and extra moons Gavin thinks up are hilarious and fantastic!

We’ve also been trying to learn about Japanese animation drawing styles, specifically manga, as requested by Gavin. We found some videos about it and then starting looking for books about manga. Here are a few of the kids’ experiments:

Gavin’s manga drawings

Lilah’s manga drawings

“Art enables us to find ourselves and lose ourselves at the same time.” -Thomas Merton

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owls, bison and ghost towns

We’ve been heading further out lately to enjoy the fall weather and look for wildlife and ghost town remains and beautiful views.

Antelope Island is an amazing place to see bison, antelope, birds of all kinds. We found an owl but missed the burrowing owls and plan to go back soon and look again. We had fun looking at the old farm machinery and buildings and spotting so, so many animals.

We drove south to see if we could find the ghost town remains we’ve heard rumors about. It took us two separate trips to find what we were searching for but we got lucky and found a great spot with old mining town remnants. Most of the structures we found were collapsed but Lilah found some pottery, we found some old metal mining cable, and this that was still upright.

I love ghost towns. I love the mystery and romance of them and knowing that what I see today may be gone by next year, or not. I love watching nature regain her territory, root and branches, wind and snow and time.

I love exploring and I love watching my kids enjoy exploring. This Earth is such a beauty filled place!

 

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mandalas

Life took us up into the canyon, into the fall leaves, to make mandalas on her birthday and perform a very short play.

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Ponies and Pony Express

We drove out to Simpson Springs today to look for wild horses and visit an old pony express station at Simpson Springs.

The drive was long and warm but beautiful with many flowers along the side of the road.

We lucked out, spotting the horses crossing the road not far in front of us. We stopped, took out the camera and binoculars and watched as several groups of horses crossed the road and made their way up the hills to a really big group quite a distance away.

They were close enough that we could hear their hooves as they crossed and some whinnies. We saw a few playing, running and chasing, and there were several young ones which was really fun to see.

It brings me so much joy to know there are big numbers of wild horses in the world, not far from us at all, and to actually watch them was amazing!

The pony express station was fascinating, with an old cabin, lots of information about the service and some old foundations from a long time ago. Pony Express was a mail service between Missouri and California which used lone riders, riding 10-11 days, stopping for water, food and fresh horses along the trail. Each rider would change mounts every 10-15 miles and handed their mailbag off to a new rider every 75 to 100 miles. It was more than twice as fast as the alternatives: stagecoach and ship. It was a fairly extreme and dangerous journey and lasted only 19 months in 1860-1861 before the transcontinental telegraph made it obsolete. 35,000 pieces of mail were delivered by riders before the service ended. History is endlessly captivating!

Down the hill from the pony express cabin there’s a watering hole. We ventured down and saw lots of birds and then an antelope who stopped when it saw us. We stopped and waited as quietly and still as we could manage and after a minute it made its way back toward us and the water for a drink.

We didn’t make it further this time, out to the geode digging beds, but soon we will go again.

I hope the horses will be around when we do.

 

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