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!

Standard
unschooling

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

Standard
unschooling

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!

 

Standard
unschooling

mandalas

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

Standard
unschooling

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.

 

Standard
unschooling

aerial silks

Lilah has been practicing aerial silks, hammocks and sometimes even the lyra for about a year now. She’s spent a whole bunch of time in the last month getting ready for a performance with her class. She was so excited to do her princess drop and to dance with the other girls as a tiki bird, complete with feather in her hair.

 

 

Here’s an edited video, with her climb and drop, set with her choice of music.

Here she is waiting to go up

and going up

and getting ready for her drop

and waiting while pretending to be a sleeping bird

and dropping.

She is already looking forward to the next performance in a few months. I am too!

Standard
unschooling

out to the great salt lake

We adventured out toward the Great Salt Lake with friends. We stopped at Golden Spike Historic Site, where the transcontinental railroad completed it’s route across the western U.S. They brought out the two engine cars and we got to see (and hear) them driving along the tracks.

Spiral Jetty is not too far from there, out on a dirt road. It’s a land art piece that is at the edge of the lake, except with current drought conditions it’s about a half mile from the water line. The kids enjoyed walking the spiral path and looking for lizards who love to sun themselves on the dark volcanic rocks there.

The Great Salt Lake is very salty indeed there, so much so that the bottom of the lake is huge, hard crystals of salt that are tough on feet. It’s pink from the halophilic (salt loving) bacteria and very beautiful and strange looking. The pink waves and white land is so striking! I dug out a few crystals while I was walking around.

They make for sharp stepping and cuts and scrapes.

In a few places there was foam from the waves which was also sparkly with super high salt concentrations. Fascinating!

The kids enjoyed it until the salt began bothering their scrapes and cuts and stinging.

We even spotted some more wild horses!

Afterward we stopped at Willard Bay on the way home which is another part of the lake but is very much less salty so better for swimming. We washed off the salt and the kids played games in the water until it was undeniably late and we headed home.

Standard