art, unschooling

a few memorable moments from midsummer

We watched a quail family wandering nearby

and deer visiting

spotted tiny pumpkins and melon flowers, growing apples

picked apricots to give to Grandma

went to the library and came home with an armful each

played badminton

met friends at the waterpark

found this flower in the yard and wondered what kind it was

brought friends home for air-conditioned playtime

helped clean our old house to get it ready to sell

found that squirrels love apricots and honeydew tendrils, researched deterrents, found that predator urine may keep them away, or not

made cat memes


watched our grapes get bigger

saw a new kind of dragonfly

read so many books

went hiking with friends and on our own

made popsicles

tried blueberry lemonade

made a new Magic The Gathering deck with dad, then tested it

Gavin went to several teen/tween night games, where the kids organize things like capture the flag and go do it without adult supervision

went to Disneyland with Grandpa

visited the beach

went on a quick whale watching trip and saw a tangled humpback that the rescue team was working with and a non tangled humpback diving and breaching

celebrated Gavin’s 12th birthday with cupcakes, board games, Legos, and lasagna

sold a house

went to a friends play (The Three Musketeers)

went to a friends aerial acrobatics performance

(Lilah requested aerial lessons immediately upon hearing we were going)

found a new favorite graphic novel series (5 Worlds by Mark Siegel)

tried out some printmaking with a Tinkercrate set

built some new moving Lego machines and watched them wheel themselves around


Life is full of goodness.





fresh air & surprises

We went for a walk up the canyon a few minutes away and beyond the usual enjoyments like blackberry flowers, birdsong, fresh air and tossing sticks and rocks into the creek, we discovered something new this time.

As we were leaving we went down to the creek in a different spot and spotted a swing across the water. Lilah crossed the logs and swung, and then we spotted a rope hanging from a tree right in the middle of the creek. So we tried that one too.

We left happy, making plans to return soon.


early summer

The kids have been:

slack lining


dragonfly spotting

and moths, butterflies, caterpillars, flies, larvae, ladybugs spotting

watching lizards in the garden (Arizona striped whiptail, I believe)


celebrating Holi


cat loving, drawing and first two photos by Lilah

google searches for Zelda walk throughs (video game help) and wild cats in utah (ongoing cat interest) among many other things

library summer reading program

reading lots and lots

waterpark playtime

birthday party playing

movie watching

a water fight

a Father’s Day scavenger hunt

sick days with lots of resting and show watching


going to a Lego show

flower collecting and pressing

sawing baseboard to fix up our old house

potion making

video story telling

animal watching at the aquarium

looking at Japanese multiplication methods

trying out some new video games


banana grams poetry creating



Grand Staircase-Escalante: a weekend adventure

We headed down to Southern Utah for the weekend, camping in Kodachrome Basin and exploring Grand Staircase-Escalante Monument.

The kids put their umbrellas together to make a little fort at camp.

We explored a few trails in Kodachrome Basin.

The next two days we ventured into Grand Staircase-Escalante.

Out in the canyons and slickrock:

We saw quite a few blooming cacti.

Dinner and exploring in Devil’s Garden:

Walking in the warm water of Willis Creek Narrows:

We saw lots of beautiful flowers and fascinating plants

and some wildlife too.

We really enjoyed exploring new places.


Snowball Fight!

When my family moved to a new house in a new city when I was nine, one of the most fabulous parts was the discovery of a snowball bush in our yard. Naturally we decided a snowball fight was in order. We’ve been having springtime snowball fights there since and it’s a tradition my kids have embraced completely.

The flower clusters are white and grow in round shapes that mostly stay until you throw them over and over and they shed white snowflaky flowers all over the place. They smell good too.

I can’t wait until the next crop of snowballs is ready. In the meantime, the kids have asked that we plant our own bush in our yard. We’ll have to see if deer like snowballs.

Life is good and filled with amazing possibilities, if you’re looking.


Topaz Mountain

We headed out on a rock hounding expedition to Topaz Mountain.

We found quite a few clear topaz crystals, some loose in the washes and some inside cracks and gas pockets in the other rock formations. We learned that a vug is a gas pocket inside a larger rock where crystals grow. We got to try mining with hammers, picks, crowbars. Next time chisels would be helpful too and more time to climb, explore and look for bigger crystals.

We spent some time beforehand looking at other people’s accounts of their visits and what various minerals and crystals are in the area, learning about red beryl, only found in Utah and one other place in the world and only found in gemstone conditions in one mine in Utah, therefore it’s more valuable than diamonds. The kids were quite interested in learning about what is around us, how to find and collect it and how crystals are formed and with what kinds of variations.

“Got one!”

We learned that topaz turns clear when exposed to sunlight but before that it’s light pink or sherry colored.

We also made a short stop at the nearby remains of the Topaz Internment Camp, where the U.S. sent 8,000 Japanese American families and individuals during WWII. There’s not much left to see but there is a museum in Delta that we’d like to go back and visit sometime. It’s fascinating, fun, upsetting and important to look at our history, learn about decisions, politics, cultures. It’s important to me to learn about history and current news we agree with and are comfortable with and those we aren’t. The internment camps are a part of my country history I am definitely uncomfortable with and therefore want to learn as much as I can, so I understand how people came to choose and create them.


After we finished looking for topaz, we finished our adventure with some climbing before the long drive home.


on mother’s day

to my children who are so amazing and so loved that words cannot express the sheer amount nor intensity of love, joy, pride and belief i have for/in you each,
to my mother, who taught me what love is before i knew the word, and who is always with me no matter the distance or time:  a poem by one of my favorites:


i carry your heart with me(i carry it in
my heart)i am never without it(anywhere
i go you go,my dear;and whatever is done
by only me is your doing,my darling)
                                                      i fear
no fate(for you are my fate,my sweet)i want
no world(for beautiful you are my world,my true)
and it’s you are whatever a moon has always meant
and whatever a sun will always sing is you

here is the deepest secret nobody knows
(here is the root of the root and the bud of the bud
and the sky of the sky of a tree called life;which grows
higher than soul can hope or mind can hide)
and this is the wonder that’s keeping the stars apart

i carry your heart(i carry it in my heart)

– e. e. cummings