puzzling and patterning and owls

It’s getting colder and darker and we are feeling inclined to do things like go through our board and card game collection and give away those we are done with, make designs with our pattern blocks, and drink tea. (“Whatcha making?”, I asked him. “A track for the hotwheel cars!”)

We got a brand new puzzle that Chris got for us because he knows how much we love puzzles and we haven’t done one for months but we were so excited to get down to matching designs and colors and letters and creatures today! It’s a really fun puzzle with monsters of all kinds and monster stores of all kinds. It’s fun to hear the kids sounding out “calamity” and “scalawag” and “wriggles” from the monster store fronts on the puzzle.


We put on some glitter tattoos.


We’ve been having some fun doing math puzzles on the whiteboard. One of us writes a question and someone else solves it. Gavin’s learning it can be much harder to write than to solve! He tried some simple algebra this week and enjoyed that. Lilah and I talked about multiplication in terms of muffins and cookies on baking sheets. That was fun!


We got out a Crime Catchers Spy Science kit that Gavin has had put away since last winter and started doing science experiments to solve the case. Here they are testing the pH of different solutions and checking for secret messages with red tinted glasses and then writing down the message clues.

Lilah made me this wonderful love note. It’s a cat thinking of cat love and saying “meaw”.


We went to visit some Great Horned Owls, collect their pellets and dissect them. There were two owls, high up in the pine trees looking down at all the commotion from time to time. I couldn’t take a picture worth anything of them with my phone camera but a friend took this one! We were able to see them pretty well with our eyes and binoculars though.


We found dozens of pellets, and dissected them to discover lots of rodent and possible mole and shrew bones.

In addition there was a whole lot of playtime with friends!


a whole bunch of Halloween fun

We spent most of our day with other unschoolers at a Halloween Carnival at the park! There were lunch and treats, crafts and games, running and exploring, costumes and friend making. It was lovely!


Our cookies were a hit and the kids made lantern jars and decorated masks. They raked leaves and played in the trees and by the stream. Lilah hula hooped and I painted her whiskers and nose and Gavin helped a bunch of younger kids try to get a ball down from a tree with a giant branch. For me, it’s the moments where kids of all ages come together in some spontaneous purpose or play that really make my heart full at our gatherings. There’s just something so special about it!

Gavin hit it off with several other kids around his own age and that was huge for him and for me as he’s been struggling with getting through that first barrier of introductions moving into play and fun. I think he’s at a hard age to make new friends. Anyway, he made several today and I’m so excited for him! I think he’ll feel so much better about going to events if he’s friends with more of the kids in the group already!


On Halloween we went over to my parents’ house where we carved jack-o-lanterns.

Then we dressed up and went out trick or treating around their neighborhood, ending at their house! After that the kids picked out a few pieces of candy to eat and picked out all their milk chocolate for Grandma and we headed home. The Great Pumpkin came and took their leftover candy and left Gavin a Minecraft toy and Lilah a pony toy.


This year, Gavin dressed up as a ranger from the beloved series Ranger’s Apprentice by John Flanagan and Lilah dressed up as a cat. Chris and I dressed up as Vikings.


While we were out trick or treating we came to a house where there was a still figure sitting on the porch who began to move and make spooky noises as we approached. This kids stopped immediately. We told them that it was okay if they wanted to go up and trick or treat. They said they didn’t want to; they were scared. So we walked to the next house. After that Chris and I were talking about how great it is that they don’t feel obligated to do things they are scared of and feel fine saying so. I mean, I do want them to be able and willing to do scary things if they want to or need to, but otherwise, it’s good to recognize that something is uncomfortable and feel okay saying that and stopping whatever it is. Seems like an appropriate thing to talk about around Halloween.


a week of time at home

The kids have been sick with a respiratory bug this week and we have several Halloween events coming up so between feeling ill, planning for parties and trying to recuperate we’ve been sticking close the past few days.

There has been much Lego story telling, Minetest and Minecraft play on the computer, watching some movies.

Gavin dug out his K’nex rollercoaster set and doggedly kept at it despite it being complicated and missing a few pieces until it was set up and working.

Lilah and I tested a gingerbread cookie recipe she saw and desperately wanted to make so we can bring them for the Halloween Carnival we’re going to on Friday. They came out very well, despite having to make over the recipe twice and do the opposite of the directions in one case. This is why with gluten free, vegan baking, we test ahead of time!

There’s been a lot of kitten play time. She likes to play with the kids’ toys which is pretty cute except there are tiny kitten teeth marks on some things the kids really like. No toys have needed to be thrown away after her treatment yet, though. Just a cardboard box or two. The kids are learning so much by caring for her and watching her grow used to our home. Lilah told me a story from Luna’s perspective the other day about how she felt at the adoption center, how she felt meeting us, how she felt the first days in our home and how she feels now in our home. It was a wonderful and appropriate story.

We went to the planetarium for a short, close-by outing. Gavin amused us (okay, okay, me) by trying on the astronaut helmet/robot head in the shop there.


Gavin and I played several games of No Stress Chess followed by one game of Chess.


The kids made stir fry for dinner with Chris’ support. They picked which veggies and what they’d like to put on it (broccoli, snap peas, bell pepper, mushrooms and tofu with soy sauce, rice vinegar and peanut butter sauce. They cut the food and fried it, made a sauce and helped serve it. They felt really great about this and I’d love to try to make it a regular weekly event as cooking and kitchen familiarity is an essential skill for healthy happy people.

Gavin impressed me the other day by relating out the blue to me that he will stop and think before believing what other people tell him! I am SO super impressed by this revelation, even though it came out of watching a movie and not life events. This sort of thing has been a worry of mine for a while because he happens to give people the benefit of the doubt almost all the time and he rarely declares any sort of intention or recognition of the way the world works in social settings like this. I am so proud of him! The growth he’s made since the time when words were not yet a common language for us and every abstract communication was virtually impossible is so incredible and I am grateful every day for every little bit of what we have now. I still love the snuggles and hand holding and lap sitting though. I’m a lucky, lucky mama.