New Year’s Eve 2014

We went to the Museum of Natural History for their kid friendly Noon Year’s Eve event.  We stopped first at a dry ice bubbles station.  They even got to see what happened when too much dry ice was put in the bottle… the lid popped off and it tipped over while spouting bubbles all over!


Next Lilah drew on shrinky dink paper while Gavin roped cattle.  Gavin eventually decided to create a shrinky dink too.

They looked at snowflakes through a microscope.


Lilah is explaining to me what she observed in the melting snow through the scope.  I’ve used some Christmas money the kids got on a new microscope for them to use at home.  I’m so excited to try it out with them soon!


Lilah waiting in line for ten or fifteen minutes to get her face painted.  The artists were quite good.

After we got home and had lunch we heated up the oven and watched their shrinky dinks shrink.  Lilah’s is a cat.  It’s her favorite thing to draw for as long as I can remember.  Gavin’s is a sea serpent saying ‘Happy New Year’.

We tidied up a bit before Grandma and Grandpa from California arrived and we spent the rest of the day catching up with them.  There was a game of Chess, a game of Wildcraft, Lilah read a new favorite book If… by Sarah Perry to Grandma.




There was some coolmathgames.com time and then an episode of Wildcratts exploring Dolphin language and then, of course, legos.


I offered to help them start Gavin’s new crystal growing kit, but they wanted to play with legos first so I instead snaked our bathroom sink.  I despise plumbing but still prefer to do it myself instead of paying someone if possible.  This particular problem only took about twenty minutes of effort and now the sink is working well again so I’m feeling pleased.

They decided to work on some beading… taking apart some old necklaces and making new things.

We opened a packet of Pop Rocks and sprinkled them in a cup of water; watched them bubble and pop and dissolve.  The kids didn’t want to eat them but were fascinated to watch and listen to them release their gasses.  We talked about carbon dioxide gas and then we ended up talking about the artificial coloring in the water from the candy and how there are natural sources of color for foods too.

Gavin taught Lilah how to play Battleship with Chris’ old set.  “Tell me if F-6 is a hit and then put a red peg on the ship if it is.”


I went to the store to get some supplies for lasagna and some non-residue shampoo for me while the kids played Harry Potter Chess/legos/maze making.

When I got home they were ready to work on the crystal growing kit so Gavin read the instructions, measured out the water and stirred the crystal powder to dissolve it.

He placed the rocks and I poured it over them.  Then we examined it closely.


Then he had to read the clock and figure out what time it would be in an hour when he is supposed to sprinkle an additional pinch of crystal powder on each rock.  It took him a bit, but he got it.

They played some more Chess, this time with the Harry Potter Chess set, while they waited for the second phase of crystal preparation.



After that they worked on some more window art painting.


And then Lilah requested I read some more of Madame Pamplemousse to them before dinner and bed and snuggles and singing.


Tools we use to deal with conflict

These are some “tools” I encourage the four of us in our family to use when we are upset or when another person is upset.  These are generally based on the idea that people mean well, and people will do well (or kind, or generous, or understanding) when they can.  To me this boils down to the idea that problems arise from lack of skills or lack of coping abilities, not from the intent to cause harm. If I can interact with others while mindful of my intent and recognizing their positive intent while in a conflict, I am able to approach from a very different angle and often solve things more quickly and with less hurt.

These are in no particular order, just a list of tools that might help people maneuver positively in conflicts with others.

Ask “Why”? and listen to the answer.

Name your feeling.

Make a request.

Move to a safe space.

Suggest a solution.

Ask for help.

Choose to let the other person choose.

Take a deep breath and look for calm.



We are home and back to our routine (if I can call our go-with-the-flow days routine) after a wonderful visit with family in Washington over Christmas filled with jokes, hugs, games of all varieties and lots of good food.  I asked Lilah if she was happy to be home and she said, “Yes, because my green bean bag is at home and I LOVE it!”  It was one of her solstice gifts from Chris and I and it is indeed well loved thus far.


This morning Lilah slept in after being a bit sick still and a long, long drive back from Washington Saturday- Sunday.  Gavin and I started making pancakes and then when she woke up she helped too.

They played with their new lego set and their old lego sets.  They acted out some scenes from Harry Potter and used various lego people parts to make a Dumbledore.

Lilah got out her window suncatcher set and we peeled off the butterfly she made before we left to put on our window.


It looks very bright with the snow coating everything gray and white outside.


While I went outside and shoveled snow from our steps and sidewalk, the kids played No Stress Chess together – a variation on chess where each player draws a card before playing each turn that tells her/him which piece to move (and also illustrates the way each piece moves).  It makes the game more accessible and more random and they both seem to be really enjoying it.


After several games, the chess game evolved.  Animals were added, with new powers.  There was a borrower who borrowed things.  There was a story-teller.  I love watching them create together.


Gavin played with his Praxinoscope animation kit.  It spins and the pictures go around and if you look through the opening on the side it looks like a moving animation of the individual images.  In Gavin’s words: “It has a mirror that reflects the pictures from the flat part.  The (view piece) is rectangular so it blocks out the other pictures and you only see one.”

IMG_3002We read some poems by Liliane Moore and Sudeep Sen.

The kids set up Lilah’s new Wildcraft game, a cooperative game about herbs, particularly healing herbs and started a game but didn’t get far before dinner time.

I read some more of a new book called Madame Pamplemousse and Her Incredible Edibles by Rupert Kingfisher.  I thought it would be perfect for Lilah and got it for the trip to Washington and we’re in the middle of it, having started reading it up there.  It is charming and empowering story of a girl who likes to cook.



Busy, busy, busy

We’ve been so busy and I haven’t been documenting as much because of the holiday season but here’s a glimpse of things we’ve been doing.

We made a wreath.

Gavin’s been knitting after Lilah finished her hat on the loom that’s their size.  She’s very proud of her first knitting project.

Lilah and I have been sewing the cutest owl stuffed animal/pillow for her brother.


We’ve been doing lots of reading.  We started a new book: Prairie School by Lois Lenski.  It follows a family in South Dakota in 1950 and is a really enjoyable exploration of how life in the 50’s in rural America was both similar and different to our current experiences.


Gavin made some gorgeous perler bead decorations and we hot glued them on barrettes for his sister.


We’ve been cuddling up watching movies since the kids have been feeling a bit sick this week;  Spirited Away, Harry Potter, Castle In the Sky.

Soon we’ll be celebrating Christmas with family, Solstice with the four of us and more Christmas with more family in Washington so blogging will be on hold for a while.



There was Animal Jam playing.

There was lego Hero Factory building and rebuilding.


There was knitting.


We went to the Tracy Aviary and saw lots of birds as well as things to climb on and spin and read.


There were pelicans having fish.

And flamingos in swirling white waters.


We climbed giant bones.


We measured our wingspans.

And  much more.


After we finished exploring the aviary, we had a snack in the car and decided to play at the playground in the park surrounding the aviary.  There was climbing and hide and seek and sliding and musical exploration.


After we came home the kids watched The Triplets of Belleville, a French film.  Lilah did some more knitting and Gavin helped with one row.

Then the kids decided to decorate our tree before dinner and cuddles and Julie of the Wolves and singing and sleeping followed.





There was Animal Jam on the computer together.  Then more lego Hero Factory play.

We visited Gilgal Gardens, a local historic outdoor sculpture garden depicting LDS founders.


It’s quite strange and marvelous.  I captured some portals in Ingress while we explored.

Once we got home Gavin and I baked snickerdoodles which he’s been asking about for days while Lilah finally got started on knitting on her circular knitting loom which she’s been wanting to do for months and months.

She needed quite a bit of help to begin and support along the way while dealing with accidents and whatnot but she spent at least an hour straight working on it and has an inch or so of a lovely purple hat to show for it.



Gavin arranged the word and letter magnets on the fridge in a visual poem.


Gavin read a few pages of George’s Marvelous Medicine by Roald Dahl to us while Lilah continued to knit.


I amused the three of us by putting Lilah’s sunglasses on our pug.


Then we adventured to the park to enjoy the last of the light and the kids played at the playground and hid behind trees.

Our Spiral Scouts holiday party was next.  We had some great time with friends capped by a game of Settlers of Catan, which Gavin is always jumping out of his skin to play with our friend who is equally obsessed.



I’m skipping blogging about some days here and there due to holiday bustle but today was a little bit quieter than it has been.

The kids played on the computer and built lego settings for their story telling.

After breakfast they helped fold clothes, pick up and vacuum to get the house ready for friends later.

Gavin pulled out his lego Hero Factory pieces and built some new “guys”.  One of them was named Huge Foot.

Lilah asked me to read The Wolves in the Walls by Neil Gaiman to her.


We took a trip to pick up a gift that we hadn’t already brought home and admired the fountains at the City Creek Center while we did.

The kids worked on some math sheets.  Gavin has forgotten many of his memorized math facts.  I’m not sure how I feel about that.  I think we’ll practice a bit here and there if he is willing.  The concepts he’s picked up, though, those are still there.  He did some reading from Where On Earth (his kids atlas) to me.  He still tends to skip words and tumble over himself because his brain reads faster than his mouth. At least that’s my guess.

Mid afternoon Lilah and I picked up her friend from school and they started playing with the Hero Factory constructs as soon as we arrived home.  As their chosen characters, they visited the center of Egypt.  They talked loudly and quietly.  They climbed the biggest tree in the world (also known as our holiday tree).


After Lilah’s friend left, it was time for dinner, a quick walk around the neighborhood and then reading some more of Julie of the Wolves, which is still starring in their storytelling play in concepts and setting.



We visited the International Peace Gardens today, wandered around, admiring architecture, the Jordan river, bridges, monuments and playing some more Ingress while we were there.

The kids did a lot of running and were story telling as they explored, imagining themselves as Nausicaa from Miyazaki’s Nausicaa and Kai from the Ninjago series.  It’s been good to get outside more, especially in the sunshine.


Gavin and I played Chess and this time he captured the first piece. I probably was more excited about that than he was!


We had lunch and then headed to the Museum of Natural Curiosity for climbing, running, zip-lining, spinning and more zip-lining.

The moon was coming up as we were leaving; a few drops shy of full.  It was beautiful, even with fences and parking lots in view.


After dinner we listened to some more Ella Fitzgerald, Louis Armstrong collaborations and then headed out for some more holiday light seeing and Ingress playing.  We still haven’t made it to the candy window displays at Macy’s used to be ZCMI.  Maybe tomorrow…