unschooling

bits and bobs

It has been a long, long time since I’ve written here. Life has been carrying on in new directions, good ones and hard ones. We’ve had a bunch more birthdays, several trips and many days of time together with loved ones.

Lilah met a fox.

Gavin got his driver license.

Chris & I celebrated twenty years married.

We got close to some sea lions.

We bought a house and sold a house.

We enjoyed some very precious visits from family we don’t get to see often.

We did some swimming and boogie boarding in the ocean.

Lilah and I started learning lyra as well as continuing with aerial silks.

This week, Lilah’s been working on playing music, drawing and making a costume, usually supervised by a kitty.

Gavin’s been working on a writing class, making a costume and writing a story for a dungeons and dragons character.

We made ghillie suits to camouflage us while getting close to animals and playing stealth games in our outdoor survival class. Here’s Gavin hiding in plain sight under his ghillie and then unveiling himself and the whole class hiding and then standing.

We took an amble to see some colored leaves in the canyon.

Sometimes when one of them takes out the trash, the other goes along to continue chatting together. They like each other. They care about each other’s opinions.

I’m so grateful for all of it.

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old & new

We met some friends for sledding. It was hard packed but beautiful. We all had a good time. Lilah found a downed tree over the creek and made her way across it. I found some elk prints.

We snowshoed on several recent warm winter days.

We started reading Divergent together, to discuss and relate to. It’s fascinating to all of us so far. We’ve been visiting Grandma and Grandpa on Sundays to hang out and usually to play a board game.

Lilah and I were doing silks classes but have stopped until it seems safer to be in a room with a bunch of people again. We’re trying to work on our splits and chin ups in the mean time.

Here’s some interesting ice I found on a walk.

Things are ever changing into something new and rearranging in familiar patterns. As my kids and I say to each other often, there is always another way of looking. (This points back to one of our favorite book series, Frontier Magic.) I like looking. Looking can be just as creative and important as creating. In fact, it is a form of creation.

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still

Sometimes it seems like time has been paused for a really long time. So many things have been paused while things keep moving along, full speed ahead. We’re still going on adventures, around the house, around the city and state. I haven’t updated in a long time. It’s been hard lately, worrying about getting sick, passing illness along to others, risks and responsibility. We’ve been doing some things and foregoing others as we think is right but it’s hard to be living under that cloud that covid has been hanging over our heads for so long now.

Halloween came and went. We did some carving at Grandma and Grandpas and we went trick or treating with friends this year, which was really fun.

Lilah has been drawing a lot and writing stories. Gavin’s been working on 3-d printing, engineering projects and coding projects.

We’ve been getting outside for classes, walks, adventures of all sorts. I have learned to start a fire from friction with a bow drill kit I made, transfer it to a nest of kindling and blow until it ignites. There’s been lots of hikes, tree climbing, trap setting (or trying; it’s so, so hard!), and some snowy adventures.

Gavin built us a beautiful advent calendar of his own design with Lego to count down to the winter solstice. Lilah drew pictures of her friends to give them for the holidays and I’m hoping she will do one of the four of us soon! Gavin printed some really neat geometric ornaments to give.

Our winter solstice hike near home to decorate a tree with orange slice ornaments for the birds was good.

We went up to Lakewood for Christmas this year, masked, vaxxed and testing twice a day. It was so good to be with family, but hard that it can’t be as easy as it used to be. We missed those who couldn’t be there.

We got home just in time for a visit with Chris’s parents. We talked and played games and on New Year’s Eve we went to Evermore, a fantasy park with quests and costumed characters. It was cold but fun.

Here’s another new year already! I look forward to the many more good moments it will bring. Juniper and I are enjoying watching the lettuce grow in my new Aerogarden hydroponic grower and she already taste tested it. I’m still waiting.

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Lilah is fourteen!

Lilah celebrated her birthday three times. Once with family while camping amid the fall leaves. Once with the four of us and the cats. Finally with her friends over for a playdate and sleepover with her bestie.

We put some crepe paper up around the campsite and a happy birthday banner on the tent and my mom sprinkled rose petals around the benches after dinner. We ate red velvet cupcakes that Lilah had made and she opened some gifts. Then we roasted marshmallows and made s’mores.

We spent her birthday morning at home, working on projects then she and I went on a wild walk hunting geocaches together. We found a handful and it was really fun looking for them and leaving our names in the logs. Later we got her favorite for dinner, fried rice, and we watched The Secret of Kells together, a gorgeous animated movie based on Irish scenery and the illustrated manuscripts.

A few days later we had friends over and they played with bamboo in the yard and nerf guns and ate pizza and cupcakes. Then most of them went home while her best friend stayed over and they stayed up very late giggling and playing with the cats and were up early to do more.

She’s gotten taller this year. She adores all animals, loves to be outside, loves to move. She spends a lot of time reading, drawing and listening to music as she goes about her days. She has just become interested in creepy things in the past few months. She has her own colorful style and she is excellent at fake angry glares and giggling. She loves her friends, stories about animals, climbing trees, dressing up and making things. She’s our resident cake baker. She’s such an awesome person and it’s so much fun to see her make her way through life!

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wild adventures

We took a quick trip to the California coast, to MacKerricher beach near Fort Bragg. It was lovely. We had a series of unfortunate events at the beginning but nothing that lasted or caused big problems: our car was making weird noises before we left so we decided not to risk driving it so far and rented one for the trip, we couldn’t find the small propane tanks for our camp stove the first night and had to drive all over, asking, we forgot to close the stopper on the cooler so had a few damp items when we arrived. It was frustrating but we solved the issues and enjoyed our time there. We found tidepools and waves and seals and acorn woodpeckers. We made towers and fires and sand drawings. We walked and climbed and sat and talked.

Here the kids are trying to direct the waves into the blowhole beneath us.

Doesn’t this anemone with snails look surprised?

A week or so later we headed up a local canyon called South Willow to camp with my parents and sister and her boyfriend. We celebrated Lilah’s upcoming birthday and went on a few hikes and chatted and enjoyed the warm and cool fall weather. There were some wild turkeys hanging out around the camp which was fun.

Life and it’s changes are so beautiful!

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Lately

In the past little while we’ve started our school year again. We are doing Making Tracks again, a nature and survival skills class. Here Lilah is working on making cordage.

And here Gavin is explaining to friends the steps to holding and twisting the material.

Here’s some of the cordage we were working on up closer.

We are reading books and discussing them with the help of Brave Writer. Lilah is doing art, on her own, with Makercrate and through classes on Skillshare.com. Gavin is working on improving his driving, engineering with Eurekacrate, his own projects and classes on Skillshare. We are using Brilliant.org for math this year as well as games, logic puzzles and Khan Academy.

We are also going adventuring, picking raspberries, playing with the cats, tie dyeing, doing aerial silks, baking, gardening, hosting D&D at our house, and getting together with friends as well as playing and chatting with them online regularly. Whew! Here’s one of our latest batch of ice dye/tie dye that I particularly like.

Chris has done an outstanding job of running D&D. We all enjoy it so much! He puts so much effort into it: researching and planning story and encounters, creating magical items for each character, printing days and days on our 3D printer to create the players’ characters as well as all the creatures and beings we come across, finding music and sound effects to heighten the experience. He even has scented candles to set the mood. Think leather and pine, not vanilla jasmine. The kids LOVE getting together and playing their characters and just goofing around. It’s been so wonderful! Here’s one of the creatures we’ll be fighting in the game soon. Chris printed it and I painted it with his advice.

It’s been a weird and hard few years with the pandemic and managing both our own safety as well as trying to maneuver through relationships with other families some of whom have very different outlooks and practices during the pandemic. I think we are finally finding what our new baseline looks like, which is quite different than it used to be but not what I stayed up at night worrying over either. We have found a group of families who are operating under the same set of understandings about the virus that we are and are getting together with them and limiting our time with others but still trying to maintain friendships. The kids have really struggled with this, as have I but we are finding ways to show people we care about them even when we cannot do things the way we all really wish we could by getting together wherever without masks.

Here we are adventuring in the Uintahs where we found a few rainstorms and sheltered under the pines and found many colored mushrooms. Lilah and I tried some handstands and bridges and I admired the way the fallen pine needles made swirling patterns in the quiet stream, following the patterns of the water.

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Inside Passage

We went to Alaska! It was something my parents had wanted to do with us for years and had been postponed due to my dad’s cancer and postponed due to covid travel restrictions and dangers so I sighed out a huge breath of relief and thankfulness when we stepped on board the ship.

We traveled from Juneau to Sitka, stopping to kayak and hike and ride in zodiacs. We saw glaciers up close and calving. The colors of the ice were astonishing. The sound of the ice breaking and falling was amazing.

We saw lots of wildlife: humpback whales and orcas, birds of many kinds, seals, sea lions, sea otters, bears, moose, deer, and water creatures like anemones, seastars, hermit crabs, periwinkles, sculpin as well as beautiful, intriguing and sometimes dangerous plants and fungi.

We were always busy, with morning stretch class and meals, watching whales out on the deck, going on excursions and listening to naturalist presentations. We even got to do several hikes and one very exciting bushwhack hike!