play and living

A contemporary pre-school teacher whose blog I enjoy says that a kids’ work is play. He means, in my understanding, that when kids are playing it is a serious endeavor that enables them to learn and grow and is the important task they are in charge of as kids. I remember this often as I watch my kids as they play together, deadly earnest and growing with each moment of time spent exploring their interests and challenges.

We went ice skating again, for a second time.


Lilah was nervous but eventually got comfortable and was even trying some tricks. Gavin enjoyed it quite a bit and was trying new moves from the beginning. I enjoyed myself thoroughly up until the point where a lace from one skate attached itself to a hook closure on the other and I fell hard, acquiring some impressive bruises but no lasting damage. It was painful and frustrating but I am glad that my kids know that these things happen to me too.

This week we read and we built and we played. Gavin started and finished How To Train Your Dragon #1 by Cressida Cowell. Lilah read several library books to me. Gavin taught me how to play Star Realms, a deck building card game set in space.


Chris pulled out the keyboard and the kids played some music and we talked about notes and octaves and rhythm and all sorts of music ideas and words. Then they tried every single pre-set the thing has. And then, thankfully, they played more music. Afterward Lilah practiced playing her tin flute.


We made tiny treehouses out of toilet paper rolls and cardstock.

We went to the zoo and watched seals and sea lions, a polar bear, a tiger, two lions, a family of burrowing owls, just to name a few. Lilah’s favorite part was seeing a sand cat. Gavin’s favorite was watching the burrowing owls and mine was hearing a lion shout. What an amazing sound they make!

Here is a drawing of a burrowing owl Lilah made with a mealworm in its tummy (they were having lunch when we visited.) She named it too.


The kids played MineCraft, including Lilah buying and setting up her own account and immediately finding a puppy and two siamese cats in the game.

Gavin learned how to do a load of laundry.

Lilah went to gymnastics class where she is learning to do walk-overs and cartwheels on the beam as well as getting up on the high bar for the first time ever.

The kids watched me knitting and carefully looked at both my process and the instructions of the pattern I was using.

Chris and the kids went to Spiral Scouts and began exploring drama and theatre skills.

We met friends at a matinee peformance of various dance pieces in Illusions by Alwin Nikolais by Ririe Woodbury Dance Co. It was a fascinating assortment and the entire audience was wowed by the costumes, the dancing and the imagination of the offerings. This is the first performance offered to school kids that I’ve seen that pushed the boundaries into challenging and possibly uncomfortable experiences. I mean that the material was a bit spooky to some of the kids and the music was not always fun and light hearted. I’m so glad this was offered as I find only showing kids saccharine sweet entertainment and art is such a wasted opportunity. Kids are familiar with fear and love and life too, after all.

After that we spent the rest of the day playing and catching up with our friends through Chess, more MineCraft, our interactive globe and PlayMobil fun.

Here is one of the pieces that we saw performed. It’s beautiful and fascinating. I’m so glad we had that opportunity and to share it with friends was even better.



cold days

We’ve been reading books, of course. Gavin picked out a novel from the library that he says is good called The Mapmaker’s Sons by V. L. Burgess. He also borrowed How To Train Your Dragon, Book 1 by Cressida Cowell. Lilah is reading The Princess Academy by Shannon Hale.

Lilah and I built a canoe and teepee fort with her set of fort building pieces.


Then we had a tea party inside it.


We went to a women’s gymnastics match at the university with my dad

and Lilah’s practicing her own gymnastics in a slightly more challenging class now. Here she is doing a handstand on the beam and then she practiced a round-off dismount.



We all played Civilization on the computers together.

Gavin and I played a game of The Castles of Mad King Ludwig. It’s really quite a good one for kids with longer attention spans.

Lilah watched Song of the Sea again, one of her favorites and mine too.

I baked some oatmeal chocolate chip cranberry cookies and we all ate them.

We pulled out our marble maze pieces and built and experimented and gasped as the cats knocked our creations down and then built them again.

Gavin got out his master builder books and has been making and remaking various different things with his Legos. Today he built a drawbridge that moves up and down.

Lilah made a horde of adorable paper cats and angels and cat angels. She even decided she wanted to make a chain of them and figured part of the process out and asked for help with the rest but did it all herself.

Gavin’s been working more (in tiny bits) on his book.


He and I spotted a bird up close in the parking lot.


The kids made a few different automatons from a kit that came in the mail as a gift. They were fascinated.


So I introduced them to the Strandbeest, amazing huge automatons made by Theo Jansen, and they were even more fascinated. If you haven’t come across these already, you’re in for a treat!


Lilah and I have been hula hooping and working on new tricks.

We went to the natural history museum and learned about DNA and watched videos about Native American history and culture. This was the first time that the DNA has sparked Gavin’s curiosity apart from solving the puzzles they have out in the area. He looked carefully at a display of all the protein pairs in human DNA compared with about twenty other animals and then we talked about how two strands fit together and apart again, creating the spiraling shape.

The kids reconnected with some old friends at the museum who we haven’t seen in years and who play a computer game Gavin and Lilah like so they have been playing a bit together now and then and having a lot of fun sending “letters” to each other and showing off their in-game creations.

I have been thinking a lot about parenting with empathy and reading many articles about how to support kids when they feel anger, in expressing and feeling and then moving forward and if helpful making things right with others.

We’ve been chatting and dreaming about where we’d like to visit this year; Southern Utah, California, Arizona are on the table.

I talked a bit to the kids about yoga and mindfulness and we practiced a few very short meditations together. I found mainly bedtime meditations for kids and I am hoping I can find some more that involve both movement and relaxation and are a little more playful.

We read a few books about Martin Luther King, Jr. and talked about how things are similar and different than when he was alive.

I learned how to knit cable twists and made a pretty good looking hat in a color I call mermaid. Gavin put in a request for a similar one in deep blue.

Chris served on a jury for a trial the past two weeks and so afterward he talked with the kids about what he did and how things work. They were both fascinated and a bit worried about it as it was a pretty serious criminal trial.

Today, Chris was home all day so I got to take a snowy hike on my own. Beautiful!





This Week

I’m still working on writing about all the holiday fun but I’d better get something up about now before I am further behind!

The three of us went to the hot springs with our unschool friends and enjoyed the cold air and the warm water, a few raindrops, lots of steam. It was relaxing and the kids were okay in the warm pool this time, enjoying some pool noodles to paddle around with. On our drive we listened to the end of Starry River of the Sky by Grace Lin. It’s such a beautiful, rich story. I highly recommend reading this one and Where the Mountain Meets the Moon to anyone, at any age. Next we’ll be listening to the the third in the Redwall series by Brian Jacques. Gavin is particularly enjoying the stories about animal societies and heroes.


We spent quite a bit of time sorting Legos and trying to find pieces for a few sets that we are putting away to make room to display new sets. The kids enjoy the process but need a lot of assistance from me because we have so many little pieces. We’ve made a lot of progress and are trying a new storage system, keeping the tiniest pieces in smaller drawers to find more easily. We’ve rediscovered some treasured bits and inspired some new building fun in the process.

We went grocery shopping and then went to the Indian convenience store where the kids helped pick out some snacks and some lentils and beans. Then we visited the library and picked out some new books. I picked a few, each kid picked a few and we came home and read. And when it was bedtime they were still reading.

We started a new puzzle, a holiday gift to the kids. It’s a puzzle of our neighborhood with our house in the middle! It’s very challenging but so, so fun to piece together the streets we drive on and the condos we pass and the traintracks near our house.


We scheduled a trip to Southern Utah, to Best Friends Animal Sanctuary to volunteer taking care of the animals there. We will help with cats, bunnies and parrots this trip. I’ve been dreaming of going there for years and am so excited to go and take the kids too! We watched a video today in preparation for volunteering to learn about expectations and safety.

I also shared this video of a dog unwrapping his gift with the kids:

They loved it as much as I thought they would. Life is good.