unschooling

We went for a walk in the rain that turned to snow yesterday.

It was a short walk, maybe a half mile one way, then back.

We each had an umbrella, boots and jackets. Our hands got cold from holding umbrellas and Lilah’s feet got cold from snow falling inside her rain boot gaps. Perhaps we could’ve done better with clothing choices.

But we enjoyed it. We listened to the stream and the plops of rain, then snow on our umbrellas. We noticed animal tracks. We looked at leaves in so many different stages of decomposition. The kids pointed out all the different colors they spotted: dark red bark, golden seeds, light green reeds. We watched water collecting and then moving across the path in a stream. We gazed up and watched the snow falling, from as high up as you can see a single flake, watching one fall, then watching the swirls of movement in many flakes together.

I was worried that the kids would be miserable. I was worried they would leave without any enjoyment. I let them choose how long to walk and turned around when they wished even though I could have happily gone several miles. They enjoyed it.

I’m so glad we went.

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unschooling

turning year

Burning the Old Year by Naomi Shihab Nye
Letters swallow themselves in seconds.
Notes friends tied to the doorknob,
transparent scarlet paper,
sizzle like moth wings,
marry the air.
So much of any year is flammable,
lists of vegetables, partial poems.
Orange swirling flame of days,
so little is a stone.
Where there was something and suddenly isn’t,
an absence shouts, celebrates, leaves a space.
I begin again with the smallest numbers.
Quick dance, shuffle of losses and leaves,
only the things I didn’t do
crackle after the blazing dies.
To the New Year by W.S. Merwin
With what stillness at last
you appear in the valley
your first sunlight reaching down
to touch the tips of a few
high leaves that do not stir
as though they had not noticed
and did not know you at all
then the voice of a dove calls
from far away in itself
to the hush of the morning
so this is the sound of you
here and now whether or not
anyone hears it this is
where we have come with our age
our knowledge such as it is
and our hopes such as they are
invisible before us
untouched and still possible
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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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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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