Playing outside

The kids played Heroica with my sister for an hour or so and then they took the dog for a short walk.

Lilah worked on some perler bead making.

Gavin helped Dad pump up his bike tires.  Then he biked while Lilah and I walked to the park where there was swinging


and climbing

and biking on the hills


and spotting some tiny fish in the creek that has trash in it and isn’t taken care of well at all.  But there are fish living and growing!  We saw at least ten the size of Lilah’s fingers, darting over and through the shadows.


The kids taught me how to play “Chinese War”, a variation on the card game War, that my cousins taught them over the holidays.  Gavin got very frustrated when he was losing and decided to stop playing.  I’m not sure how to help him deal better (faster?  more easily?) with the frustrations of games that don’t go the way you wanted them to.


Lilah and I went to gymnastics class while Gavin played Civilization with his dad.


On the way home we passed a UPS store and Lilah asked me if we order things from UPS.  I said no, and explained how people and companies pay UPS (or USPS or…) to pick up and then deliver their packages for them.

We started a project making hearts out of paper.  It involves stapling and cutting with a paper cutter so the kids practiced their safe and effective stapling and paper cutting.  We made a huge heart but don’t think it could stay up that way so we might just string them as a garland.

I read a chapter of The Wizard of Oz to them.  We talked about what cowardly means, since we just met the Cowardly Lion.

There was coolmathgames.com play together.

They played several more hands of Chinese War, often getting really frustrated but continuing or playing again later.  It’s hard for me to decide whether and when to step in and say, “This is causing too much frustration” and whether and when to let them keep hitting the same wall and trying again.  Sometimes they deal with it alright and sometimes they get mad, yell, throw things, refuse to do anything for twenty minutes, Gavin more than Lilah as his expectations are often higher.  More and more I think I need to say aloud what I notice happening, maybe say what I would feel or choose if I were in the same position and then let them work it out.  Solving problems for others doesn’t work for kids any better than for adults.

The perler beads came out again.  A ninja star was designed by Gavin and a lace circle by Lilah.

We went to Lindsay Garden park and the kids spun on the merry go round for a long while while I used the swings.

Then we went on a short walk through the cemetery.  There is supposed to be a nesting owl who comes every year about this time but I have no idea which tree they call home.  Maybe sometime we’ll happen on an owl nest.

After lunch we watched a bit of the 5th Harry Potter movie.  We’re listening to the 3rd audio book when we’re driving around.

Then it was time for Lilah and I to pick up her friend from school.

All three kids played with K’nex, Legos and pop beads together, making up an epic tale involving ninjas, queens and magic ala Harry Potter.  There was scepter building, underwater place building, cat drawing, cafe visiting and everything else they could toss in.

In the morning the K’nex were used with the pop beads to create this home for the pop bead characters they are designing and playing with.

We took a drive out to Promontory, Utah to visit the Golden Spike National Historic Site.


It was a long drive and so we were happy to get out and balance on the rails, inspect the replicas of the old locomotives, check out the large collection of tumbleweeds hiding behind the railing at the visitors center and admire various old tumbling down buildings (more me than the kids).

The actual gold spike was not at the site, it’s at Stanford University, but they had a replica there.  So Gavin learned that word pretty solidly and has been using it since, at least twice that I’ve heard.


There was a crew working on restoring the locomotives, one coal burning, one wood burning.  They were welding and scrubbing.  The guide kept referring to Gavin as a girl and he never chose to correct him, so I followed his lead.  Afterward I told him that he’s always free to point out he’s a boy if he wants to in these situations (happens shockingly frequently!) or ask me to if that’s more comfortable.  He answered that he didn’t really care, which surprised and impressed me.  The last time he was not happy about it at all.  So we left it at that.  It didn’t really matter enough to make a fuss over.  If he’s comfortable, that’s what matters to me!   A cat visited us while we were admiring the paint on the trains.  She’s in charge of the mice, the guide told us.  It seemed to me she was also an expert in visitor relations.   She came right over to us and Lilah knew she’d like some petting.  And she did.

We learned that the trains had to stop every 15 or 100 miles, depending on what they burn to produce steam.  We learned that hooking the trains to the other cars was a very very risky career with injuries and deaths likely.  Here’s Lilah trying her hand at using the link.


Afterward, on our way home Lilah spotted a playground and shouted, “Mama, PLAYGROUND!”, in a sort of desperate plea/command.  So we circled around and tried out another merry-go-round and teeter totter, climbing bubble, and finally the play structure.  That seems to be how the kids rank the various options – older and probably more dangerous first, then new and plastic and (possibly) safer.

I’m glad to know a merry go round is still something that can occupy hours and endless combinations of movement and experimentation.  I remember it the same way from my own childhood.  There aren’t very many left in our city – only one that I know of but in smaller towns like where we stopped today there are probably many more older playthings left.

I’m working hard to get us outside every day and take advantage of the spring time weather we are having in the beginning of February.  It’s gorgeous right now, even while it’s obviously a sign of climate change.