unschooling

to see the sea

We drove out to Mendocino with my parents to visit the ocean. We stayed in two cabins next to each other on a natural preserve, filled with trees, ponds, plants and animals. It was lovely and we spent a bit of time exploring the preserve, but what we really wanted to spend most of our time doing was going to the beaches.

We explored several different spots nearby, each with their own attractions.

One day we watched a whole lot of jellyfish drifting and spinning in the water from high bluffs.

We scrambled up and down bluffs, played in the sand, sat and watched the waves and the seals, went looking in the pools.

In the tidepools we spotted sculpin, sea urchins, crabs of several kinds including one munching on a squid, anemones of several kinds, ochre stars, snails of many types, bat stars, six-rayed stars, a leather star, a sea lemon nudibranch.

We admired some impressive blowholes (areas where the ocean has worn away tunnels in the rock and creates huge splashes or eruptions of water when the conditions are right), arches and caves.

Back at the cabin between ventures, this is what downtime looked like.

The kids rolled and threw a bunch of driftwood into the waves and watched the pieces move with the tide.

We collected some shells.

One day we took a sea cave kayaking tour.

On our last morning in town, we went to the beach one last time. Chris and I watched the waves while the kids created a landscape out of sand, rocks, feathers & shells while telling stories about characters they’ve created.

I’m so grateful.

Standard
unschooling

Eagle Eye & Camouflage

In our nature classes we’ve practice using wide angle vision like animals do to observe ourselves and what’s around us more fully. One way we’ve done it is in a game where one person (the eagle) closes their eyes and counts to 100 while everyone else hides in plain sight. Then the eagle looks for people, using wide angle vision. After they have found all the hiders that they can, they hold up a number of fingers and finally tell everyone still unseen to come out. The closest person who remained unspotted AND who saw the number wins and is the eagle for the next round.

This year in our class we increased the difficulty by adding camouflage into the equation. The kids painted themselves with mud, sand, leaves, sticks. I did too. I enjoy participating even while the other parents preferred to sit and watch. It’s more fun for me to join in! The kids are getting good at holding still, and at hiding with the environment. In one picture below, it looks just like an empty landscape at first glance but there are at least five kids standing up from their hiding spots. If the picture was taken while they were hiding, they would probably be completely invisible.

Standard
unschooling

Lilah turns Thirteen!

She started her day with homemade chocolate mint donuts with vanilla glaze by request.

We chatted with Grandma and Grandpa in California on the computer and she opened packages from them. Then we had a party on our deck. Gavin did a great job of decorating to make it feel festive.

I organized a scavenger hunt by request for the birthday packages. This one I tried to make extra hard! A few of the clues stumped even this very clever birthday girl. This is the trumpet vine bush, which was the answer to There’s a fanfare for your birthday. Go listen! Her favorite was the juniper tree hiding spot; the answer to If you wanted berries in June, where could you look now? We went all over the yard, searching and finding and unwrapping.

We had a lovely afternoon with my parents and sister.

At thirteen, Lilah climbs and climbs and swings upside down. She loves challenging herself. She loves animals and wants to work rescuing them. She practices by taking care of our animals and making friends with any others she comes across.

Her favorite card game is Exploding Kittens and her favorite computer game is Among Us, which she plays with friends online. She loves graphic novels but is also reading bigger books now. Her favorite book is Aru Shah and The End of Time by Roshani Chokshi.

She can often be found crafting something around the house. Her favorite colors are purple and blue. She loves scattering seeds and petals on our walks, solving riddles, drawing, and anything with chocolate. She brings joy with her everywhere and finds it anywhere.

She thinks we should change how factories keep polluting the world. Her choice for president is Hillary Clinton.

Her curly hair is a bit longer than shoulder length and she prefers it down. She’s almost as tall as Gavin, just inches shorter than I am. She goes barefoot as much as possible and usually has dirt colored soles.

She loves to wear a whole rainbow of colors and patterns. She spends a few minutes most days practicing her favorite song on the keyboard. She stays up late reading, hanging out with her cat or drawing. Then she’s slow to get up in the mornings. She’s always excited about a bunch of different things. She likes picking the garden and climbing out of her window onto the roof. She notices things that not many others do. She’s always ready for an adventure.

Standard
unschooling

recipes for late September

Gather a handful of hikes

some chores

many books

a class with friends outside

a dash of wild foraging

a big bunch of polluted air

time with family

a big pour of golden sunlight

some big projects

a few sprinkles of costume planning.

Mix and enjoy!

Standard
unschooling

camping at Red Canyon

We went camping with my sister and her boyfriend and my parents down by Flaming Gorge. It was so lovely to get outside for a few days.

We walked (and some of us climbed in crevices) along the edge of the gorge.

We took a hike in the forest to a lake and spotted deer and elk (and maybe a fox) prints on the way. I walked two miles on a trail with rocks and mud and logs and hills… a first for me after my surgery. I had just gotten permission to put my full weight on that knee about a week before our trip so it was perfect timing!

We read in hammocks and chatted with family.

We took a raft and kayaks down the river. It was Lilah’s first time on a raft and she really enjoyed it. Gavin loved it too!

We spotted kokanee salmon swimming upstream, bright red and orange.

Lilah worked hard on her fire starting and tending. With some help she started two fires with a fire striker and some cottonwood seed fluff and lint. She got quite frustrated but kept at it and was eventually successful.

We roasted marshmallows and spotted shooting stars.

We spent the last evening around the fire finding animals and other picture in the flames and coals. There were several alligators in there.

On our way home we listened to an audiobook called The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas. It was an excellent listen, young adult fiction about race relations in America today.

It was a beautiful few days.

 

Standard
unschooling

a Wild Storm

A few nights ago there were very high winds here overnight and through the next day. There were gusts up to 100 mph in our valley and not quite so high here at our house. The noise was intense, especially seeming so while it was dark. Our trees all stayed upright with just a few branches down but nearby there were hundreds of big and small trees cracked, uprooted and knocked over.

We saw trees leaning at strange angles everywhere and driving was pretty exciting the next day, the trees blocking entire streets and making wide roads into one lane roads.

We visited our river trail where we saw many trees down and Gavin noticed the water level was extremely high. We think it’s because of all the trees and material in the water suddenly. We hauled some big branches off the trail on our way and cleaned up some trash too on our walk.

The following day we went up the hill from our house about a half mile and visited some uprooted trees on the Capital grounds. It truly is amazing to see how the wind can uproot a hundred or more foot high tree. I wondered why these ones came down and not others close by and if the trees root systems or health affected their chances at all.

 

We played a bit with perspective.

Leading up to the storm the smoke from wildfires states away was making the air terrible here and a strange orange color so I was glad to see blue sky after the wind. I’m grateful our yard and house fared so well and I’m amazed by the forces of nature! It will be fun to go to some of our usual walking areas and see how they have changed.

Standard
unschooling

Gavin is Fifteen!

We celebrated Gavin’s birthday with my parents and sister and her boyfriend. We made lasagna for dinner and chocolate cupcakes with raspberry frosting. We brought Gavin’s nerf arsenal over to my parents and Chris and Lilah and Gavin snuck around and tried to ambush each other with rainbow darts while my sister helped me set up a scavenger hunt for his gifts. I tried hard to make up difficult clues to locations but almost without fail, the kids figured them out so quickly! Lilah has requested a scavenger hunt for her birthday and I will need to make it much sneakier and harder. One of the clues was Search in wintry terrain to lead to the snowball bush and Lilah knew instantly what it meant! Gavin immediately figured out that Imagine you are very tired and need a boost. Where would you look? was leading to where the lawn mower battery is kept.

At fifteen, Gavin’s favorite genre is Science Fiction. His favorite board game is Terraforming Mars. His favorite band is Blacklight District or Gothic Storm. He can often be found with his phone playing music around the house. In fact, I usually know he’s on his way by the arrival of his music.

He loves MineCraft and Lego and Dungeons & Dragons. He loves playing online with his friends since he can’t see them in person over the summer.

Some of his goals for the year are to build a computer, learn how to drive, hang out with his friends as much as he can. In the future he wants to be a programmer, a game tester or game designer.

His choice for president is Not Trump. Maybe Obama again.

Something he thinks needs changing is someone to lead our country who knows what they’re doing and more research about how to stop the Covid pandemic.

He’s 5 feet and 6 inches tall which means he’s nearly as tall as I am now, but not quiiiiite. He has had the same hairstyle for several years now: one side shaved short and the other about chin length.

The pandemic has been very hard for him because he hasn’t been able to hang out with friends. He says that it’s kind of scary to think that friends or family might get sick or die.

His favorite books are End Game, The Calling by James Frey or The Hunger Games series by Suzanne Collins. His favorite movies are Nausicaa and Guardians of Ga’Hoole.

He has a laugh that carries across the house. He loves animals, especially owls. He doesn’t like quiet time. He always gets holes in his socks. His voice is changing. He dances to his music when no one is watching. He gets out board games at 7 a.m. and plays them solo. He likes Beyond Burgers a lot. He can identify a blue jay from its screech and he asks me how I’m doing or feeling several times each day since my leg injury. He’s always ready for a game.

 

 

Standard
unschooling

a long strange summer

This summer has been odd. Partly it’s because the corona virus pandemic has kept us home and away from places we’d go and friends we’d see. Partly it’s because in early June I fractured my tibia and have been recovering since which involves a whole lot of sitting around and waiting to heal.

My family has been so supportive and helpful and I’ve been well cared for but we would all have preferred to do things differently this summer in so many ways.

We’ve played a bunch of board games in my bedroom and read and read and read. Lilah has stitched her unicorn hoodie and painted and knit and screen printed a cat on a backpack and sewn me a special bag so I can carry things on my crutches.

Gavin has done chemistry experiments and done sudoku and planned his computer building class.

I’ve done some painting and lots and lots of reading. We’ve watched the quail families wandering through the yard and watched the apples grow and the beans climb the trellis tunnel. We’ve watched the orioles and the hummingbirds visit the flowers and the feeders. We embroidered a fox and a shield and swords onto some velvet bags to give friends. Most of all of these activities have been in my bedroom to include me in things.

We harvested edible flowers and herbs and baked rolls with dill, chives, rosemary and lavender topped with flowers. We made a mandala with items from our yard.

We watched fireworks with my parents and listened to a sprinkler hitting a pipe and making the most magical noise and slid down the railings afterward.

We went to the lake for an afternoon and the kids swam, Chris and I paddled in an inflatable kayak that I was able to get my leg into and we found and tried to help some baby birds. Lilah carried them off of the hot cement and put them in shady places under the trees nearby.

In the past couple of weeks I’ve finally been able to get out a little bit more and so Chris and I have been up the mountain to see flowers and deer and out toward the lake to see birds. Our yard is lovely but it’s so wonderful to get out into the wider world! I even got to use my macro lens some. Mother Nature dresses well!

On weekends we’ve been able to get together with my family to chat with masks on and from a distance. This week my parents got out this foosball like game and the kids loved it. Another favorite has been a bucket of water with old rags to wet and then throw at targets. Once Lilah was throwing backwards and the rag ever so gently alighted right on top of my dad’s head. It was hilarious. She’s tried since to repeat that magical moment but it’s not so easy.

 

This week I’ve finally felt well enough to try yoga asanas again. It’s been two months and I can’t put weight on my right leg so it’s extremely limited but it feels so good to move my body more. Next week I can begin to walk with half weight on my leg and crutches.

I’m looking forward to a whole lot more adventuring outside soon!

 

Standard
unschooling

up to the high mountains!

The road up to the Uintas finally was cleared of all the remaining snow so we got to head up for an adventure. It was still quite snowy in places and wet and absolutely gorgeous. We heard so many birds and frogs and the flowers are just beginning there. Our shoes got soaked but it was well worth it. I especially liked seeing plants growing in a melted footprint.

Standard
unschooling

late may

We are making great use of the kids new bikes and biking up and down the Jordan River Parkway Trail which is a lovely, shady paved trail next to the river that runs through town. We’ve been going out a couple of times a week and going around 15 to 20 miles total which is so fun! There are so many birds out there and flowers and we’ve spotted some goslings and ducklings on outings too. Our last trip out we happened upon a fledgling owl with a parental escort. Also here are some turtles enjoying the warmth and an oriole nest.

We’ve gone out on some hikes, on less known trails, enjoying fresh air, sunshine and spring.

We went on a fossil hunt locally and found, after much rock inspecting, some teeny tiny sea star fossils.

We’ve been reading, reading, reading.

We celebrated spring by making flower crowns and bracelets, making cookies with edible flowers from our yard and decorating our apple tree and wishing it good health this year.

My aunt sent a few lovely puzzles to us and we’ve been happily but slowly working on them. Sometimes the cats join in, usually by sitting in the box with pieces but sometimes by grabbing loose pieces and trying to throw them in the air or bite them.

We celebrated Mothers Day with my family, outside, with masks and distance but it is lovely to spend time with them however we can do it.

Lilah made some paper with a Tinker Crate project and then made that into the covers for some journals she put together and bound.

There’s a trilobyte quarry down south that we ventured down to with my parents one day. It was hard work but we found quite a few fossils!

Gavin’s started mowing my parents’ lawn and earning money he’s saving up to buy parts for and build a PC next fall. He’s got it planned out and is working hard to make it happen. He’s also been doing chores around our house like cutting down the bamboo.

We’ve played Oceanos and Ravine and Wavelength.

We went on a short camping trip with my parents and sister and her boyfriend. It was so nice to get away from home and be outside. We were careful to keep distance between us and washed and sanitized our hands a lot. Happy Birthday, Meara!

The garden is growing! This year we have two kinds of beans, swiss chard, radishes, basil, tomatoes of four kinds, eggplants of three kinds, lemon cucumbers, zucchini, butternut squash, spaghetti squash, sunshine squash, arugula and strawberries. The tomatillos are just starting to sprout all over and I think we currently have a thousand but we will only keep six or so.

The kids are always storytelling together. Here are some drawings of characters they are working on at the moment.

The orioles are back and visiting the feeder along with the black chinned hummingbirds. There’s a downy woodpecker who I think is nesting in our boxelder tree too but sadly we have no view into the spot where it keeps disappearing inside the tree. Maybe we’ll spot little woodpeckers out and about soon.

Gavin’s been working on a project: designing and building a drop ship. He’s spent hours and hours on it, planning, building parts, finding there are issues and reworking it. It’s really neat so far!

 

Standard