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.

 

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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!

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unschooling

Lilies and Lakes

We took a drive up to the Uintah mountains to paddle on a lake.

We carried our gear about a quarter mile and paddled around a small lake where we were visited by some wandering cattle. It was so calm and scenic and the water was very still for the most part so we could see the bottom in most of the lake. We spotted some fish and many lilies. Gavin opted to read and watch us from a sunny blanket and the rest of us paddled around.

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a little of this, a dash of that

We’ve been playing so many games (here the kids are playing with Legos and making up stories together)

and going for nature walks by ourselves and with friends (and smelling flowers and finding feathers)

and eating grapes and other veggies from our garden.

We’ve been spotting birds and dragonflies and lizards and snakes in our yard

and squirrels who lounge right outside the window

We’ve been staying indoors because of polluted air which makes me feel stuck and unhappy but doing our best to get some indoor exercise and go out when the air is a little better.

We’ve been hiking

 

and inventing games

and reading, reading, reading wherever we go.

Gavin won a drawing at the city library for all his summer reading and got a gift card and book bag and twinkling lights. I bought Lilah a soft animal pillow and a lava lamp because she’s a winner in reading too.

For my birthday we went up in the local mountains and stayed in a yurt and went paddleboarding and kayaking on the reservoir. My parents and sister came up for the afternoon to be with us. I am so grateful for my family and getting time regularly to spend with my parents and sister is such a huge gift! One afternoon we were up there, we paddled around a bend and discovered a small private beach with a swing set someone has made. We decided to land and try it out!

We’ve been painting and drawing and writing

and playing market together. Here Lilah is shopkeeper, with wares such as unicorns, pompoms, gems, and corks for sale.

and making each other laugh.

Gavin had a birthday party with friends where they played Dungeons & Dragons with Chris’ help and then had a nerf battle and they laughed and laughed and laughed. I am so grateful he has good friends who enjoy spending time together.

Here are the potions that were served to the enduring battle heroes.

We took a walk under the full moon which we are hoping to make a tradition. This time we were lucky enough to be up in the mountains and it was so beautiful.

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unschooling

Denver

We took a drive to Denver for a few days so Chris could go to a conference and we could explore. We did a lot of paddle boarding, visited the science museum and some parks. Since we were there for Gavin’s birthday by his request we got vegan donuts and went to an amusement park in the city. It was fun though it is always good to come home too.

 

Newly thirteen years old!

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poetry, unschooling

poetry

We’ve been enjoying some poetry reading. Lilah’s been writing some down and drawing pictures to go with them. She calls them LOL pages because she chooses to draw funny pictures. I’ve been choosing and sharing, some old favorites, some new ones. Maybe soon I’ll ask the kids to look for some to share with me.

love is a place
by ee cummings

love is a place
& through this place of
love move
(with brightness of peace)
all places

yes is a world
& in this world of
yes live
(skillfully curled)
all worlds

“Hope” is the thing with feathers
By Emily Dickinson

“Hope” is the thing with feathers –
That perches in the soul –
And sings the tune without the words –
And never stops – at all –

And sweetest – in the Gale – is heard –
And sore must be the storm –
That could abash the little Bird
That kept so many warm –

I’ve heard it in the chillest land –
And on the strangest Sea –
Yet – never – in Extremity,
It asked a crumb – of me.

This is Just to Say
by William Carlos Williams

I have eaten
the plums
that were in
the icebox

and which
you were probably
saving
for breakfast

Forgive me
they were delicious
so sweet
and so cold

With That Moon Language
by Hafiz

Admit something:
Everyone you see, you say to them, “Love me.”
Of course you do not do this out loud, otherwise someone would call the cops.
Still, though, think about this: this great pull in us to connect.
Why not become the one who lives with a moon in each eye,
that is always saying,
with that sweet moon language,
what every other eye in this world is dying to hear?

Famous
By Naomi Shihab Nye

The river is famous to the fish.

The loud voice is famous to silence,
which knew it would inherit the earth
before anybody said so.

The cat sleeping on the fence is famous to the birds
watching him from the birdhouse.

The tear is famous, briefly, to the cheek.

The idea you carry close to your bosom
is famous to your bosom.

The boot is famous to the earth,
more famous than the dress shoe,
which is famous only to floors.

The bent photograph is famous to the one who carries it
and not at all famous to the one who is pictured.

I want to be famous to shuffling men
who smile while crossing streets,
sticky children in grocery lines,
famous as the one who smiled back.

I want to be famous in the way a pulley is famous,
or a buttonhole, not because it did anything spectacular,
but because it never forgot what it could do.

Still I Rise
By Maya Angelou

You may write me down in history
With your bitter, twisted lies,
You may trod me in the very dirt
But still, like dust, I’ll rise.

Does my sassiness upset you?
Why are you beset with gloom?
’Cause I walk like I’ve got oil wells
Pumping in my living room.

Just like moons and like suns,
With the certainty of tides,
Just like hopes springing high,
Still I’ll rise.

Did you want to see me broken?
Bowed head and lowered eyes?
Shoulders falling down like teardrops,
Weakened by my soulful cries?

Does my haughtiness offend you?
Don’t you take it awful hard
’Cause I laugh like I’ve got gold mines
Diggin’ in my own backyard.

You may shoot me with your words,
You may cut me with your eyes,
You may kill me with your hatefulness,
But still, like air, I’ll rise.

Does my sexiness upset you?
Does it come as a surprise
That I dance like I’ve got diamonds
At the meeting of my thighs?

Out of the huts of history’s shame
I rise
Up from a past that’s rooted in pain
I rise
I’m a black ocean, leaping and wide,
Welling and swelling I bear in the tide.

Leaving behind nights of terror and fear
I rise
Into a daybreak that’s wondrously clear
I rise
Bringing the gifts that my ancestors gave,
I am the dream and the hope of the slave.
I rise
I rise
I rise.

Jabberwocky
by Lewis Carroll

’Twas brillig, and the slithy toves
Did gyre and gimble in the wabe:
All mimsy were the borogoves,
And the mome raths outgrabe.

“Beware the Jabberwock, my son!
The jaws that bite, the claws that catch!
Beware the Jubjub bird, and shun
The frumious Bandersnatch!”

He took his vorpal sword in hand;
Long time the manxome foe he sought—
So rested he by the Tumtum tree
And stood awhile in thought.

And, as in uffish thought he stood,
The Jabberwock, with eyes of flame,
Came whiffling through the tulgey wood,
And burbled as it came!

One, two! One, two! And through and through
The vorpal blade went snicker-snack!
He left it dead, and with its head
He went galumphing back.

“And hast thou slain the Jabberwock?
Come to my arms, my beamish boy!
O frabjous day! Callooh! Callay!”
He chortled in his joy.

’Twas brillig, and the slithy toves
Did gyre and gimble in the wabe:
All mimsy were the borogoves,
And the mome raths outgrabe.

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unschooling

Del Norte camping

We headed over to the redwoods forest and the beach in Northern California.

The salt flats of Utah are on the first leg of the trip and we got out to see for a few minutes. It looks like snow but it is all salt and it is hot out there!

Our campsite was in the redwoods. It was cool and beautiful and so, so green. We even had banana slug and millipede visitors along with sweet singing birds. After 95-100 degree days in Utah, it was lovely to have mid 60s weather there.

The beach we love nearby was closed due to landslides on the trail so we had to adjust our plans. We headed to Crescent beach for some walking and shell collecting.

We really wanted to do some tidepooling so we found a few other possible places and tried one out the next day. The area the rangers were setting up was very slippery and hard to maneuver and we couldn’t find much of interest besides the most common shallow critters like anemones and crabs so we headed to the other side of the beach and we found sandy pools that Lilah could easily get around and so many fun things to see!

There were ochre sea stars in a rainbow of colors

and leather stars

and another kind I’d never seen before except at the aquarium which some research indicates may be a blood star.

There were crabs, both hermit and bigger.

There were barnacles and limpets and mussels and anemones and snails.

There were several types of fish.

There were nudibranchs! We found lots of one type with orange tips and one of another that was beige, flat backed with dark brown polka dots.

There were baby sea stars!

And best of all, we even spotted a small live jellyfish flowing in the currents

and an otter!

I spotted the otter in the ocean looking at us and then as I yelled, “It’s an otter! Loooook!” it swam up toward the beach near us and then galumphed up, rested, then galumphed more into a pond up at the top of the beach where Gavin spotted it! We think it was a river otter.

Here’s the “I just saw an otter!” face on Lilah:

And here she is, looking at fresh otter prints.

We hiked to Hidden Beach, a beautiful walk with wildflowers, ferns, views of the ocean below, a few seals sunning themselves far out on the rocks.

The kids built forts, with Chris’ help.

We spotted more amazing animals during low tide there too. Here’s a limpet that had come off it’s rock.

A couple of things I’m still working on figuring out what they are:

these orangey red blobs, which were further down in the tidal zone, which look like they may be red ascidians (commonly called sea pork) which the nudibranchs above particularly like to eat

and this, which may be a tunicate, but I’m not certain.

We also did quite a bit of hands-on (feet on) research about which seaweed types are slippery, or good for gripping while maneuvering through wet rocks in the tide pools.

In between our beach fun, we played Hero Realms, Yahtzee and Dragon Farkle, roasted marshmallows, explored the campground and while driving we listened to The Land by Mildred Taylor, a book about race relations and a young man with a white father and a black mother finding his way in America right after slavery ended, some short stories and The Land: Founding by Aleron Kong, which is a role playing game themed series with some crude humor that I’d prefer was left out but otherwise is quite entertaining.

 

It was a wonder full week.

 

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