We tripped up to Oregon to go to our first unschool conference and see friends and the ocean.
The conference had so many fun activities but was kind of hard for us introverts to make connections without knowing anyone beforehand. Lilah spent most of her time in the art room, drawing, painting, making a masquerade mask, a leather gauntlet and bracelet. Gavin spent most of his in the game room. Gavin did a self defense workshop. Chris and I got in a few hours of listening to panels and speakers as well as accompanying the kids. Most of the speaking was geared toward new or prospective unschool parents, which was bit disappointing. It was so nice to be surrounded by educationally like minded families. Lilah was delighted to see many other kids sporting tails and ears and both fit right in with their candy colored hair. It seemed to me that if we went again, we’d do well to find friends to go with or wait until the kids are teens in desperate need of other teen group connections.
Seeing friends was fun. The kids picked up right where they left off, playing games, petting cats, swimming and putting on impromptu performances at the open air amphitheater in the Rose Garden. Chris made a new friend at the garden.
The ocean was lovely. I terribly awfully wish we lived near it. It’s my happy place, along with many other nature scapes. We dug in the sand and watched birds and crabs and spotted animals in tide pools. We also found a local shipwreck that is now part of the beach scenery at Fort Stevens.
During all of our driving hours we listened to The Hobbit by J.R.R Tolkien, Ali Baba and the Forty Thieves, Norse Mythology by Neil Gaiman and got a good start on a new favorite: Children of Blood and Bone by Tomi Adeyemi.
We’ve been gardening. We planted an area with nothing growing, we’ve watched our carrots and beets sprout up and the strawberries start to flower. We planted lettuce and a whole bunch of flower seeds of lots of kinds. It’s fun to go to the garden store with the kids because just like the toy aisle, they are excited about everything we come across. We came home the last time with some early planting veggies, columbine, catmint, tri-colored ice plant, yarrow and phlox, purple and red pansies and seeds for chocolate colored sunflowers.
We got to go see Hamilton, which the kids both loved and have been talking about and singing about since. It was entertaining for them and even though it was three hours of sitting they really enjoyed it.
We drove out to an old mining site, Mammoth Mine near Eureka, for a rock hounding trip. We found a group that does field trips and has permission to go many places that we otherwise couldn’t because of private property concerns. So we dug through mine tailings piles and found some amazing rocks! It was really fun and rewarding! I found a book about rocks and minerals at the library and they’ve been reading through that ever since, making connections about their finds and experience at the mine site. Also, you never know what you might come across out there in the desert. We found two abandoned police cars stuffed with all sorts of things, a fridge, a couple of old fake holiday trees and a bunch of other interesting dumped junk.
We went to the aviary and saw lots of birds. We watched a peacock displaying it’s feathers and shaking them to attract a female. We watched the golden eagles staring at the crows flying over and cawing. We saw a wetland plover on a nest and Lilah spotted a chick hiding under a pheasant. Lilah collected a peacock feather and even though it wasn’t one of the biggest ones she was very pleased. One of the barn owls came right over to watch us when we were very still and seemed quite curious. Gavin collected one of their feathers from the grass in front of the enclosure.
The kids have been playing games together every morning: Phantom Society, Istanbul, Above and Below and lots more. They sometimes follow the rules and sometimes take new directions together.
We tried making horchata for the first time. It’s one of Lilah’s favorite things and we wanted to try making it ourselves. We soaked cinnamon sticks, blanched and toasted almonds and rice overnight, blended and strained it, added a touch of maple syrup for sweetness and then chilled it. It was delicious.
We went out owl hunting and didn’t find any but have researched some other places to try. We did see some pronghorn antelope close on our owl hunt though.
We’ve been enjoying chive flowers… very strong flavor!
Gavin built a huge, three tiered race track out of Lego for his toy cars. I didn’t get a picture of the finished track before it got smashed, unfortunately but it was really amazing! Here it is in progress:
Gavin recently ordered a kit to make your own chewing gum. He made cherry and grape flavors. It was a sticky process!
We’ve been working on terracing a hill in our yard with huge cement blocks, lots of dirt and lots of sweat. Gavin’s been helping bring up blocks as they have to come up a lot of stairs from street level, one by one. Lilah’s been helping spread out the dirt that I’ve carted up and dumped. We all picked out some flowers for the lowest level which is all done and planted them together.
Lilah’s been fort building and today Gavin got in on it too.
She’s also been sewing some pouches for holding precious things for herself and everyone else in the house.
Gavin and Lilah have been working on designing some nature based Lego creations for a contest by a local arboretum. He’s started a barn owl and a park with trees. She finished an orange pansy.
Lilah made some origami pinwheels on the fly, her own creation with no instructions or guidance. They even spin when she blows on them!
There’s a brand new women’s professional soccer team in town and we are fans! Go Royals! We’ve been to several games now and it’s so great for both kids to see women out there doing amazing things. Lilah’s favorite player is the goal keeper Abby Smith who we get to see up close from our seats often.
Both kids have been interested in dying their hair for a while now. This week they asked again so we picked out some colors and went for it. Gavin chose aquamarine and Lilah chose purple. We just did a test strand of Lilah’s so far but we’ve got plans to do the rest soon. Gavin’s came out great!
We’ve also been doing a lot of hanging out with friends. Since the weather has been lovely we’ve been meeting in parks and wild areas lately. It’s such a great feeling to be out in the sun, surrounded by plants and animals and smell those lovely earthy spring smells. All the better to do it with friends!
Lilah’s been wanting to make an ears and tail set for a while. This week we took the plunge. We visited the craft store, a very dangerous place if you like crafting and knickknacks. We bought furry fabric, pink fabric, hooks, and headbands.
The next day we fired up the scissors and glue gun and made wolf ears and tail.
We celebrated Mother’s Day with my mom and dad and sister. The kids made and bought beautiful things to give me but what I really care about is that I get to have them in my life. As I venture through my own motherhood journey, I have learned and am learning more about what it takes to be a parent, all the love and excitement and fear and time involved and have so much more understanding and appreciation of my own mom. It’s not an easy thing, but oh, so full of joy.
We got to have our annual Snowball fight with flower snowballs, since they were ripe. It’s very dear to all our hearts and the kids desperately want us to have our own “Snowball Tree”.
Here’s Gavin’s finished owl Lego sculpture:
We got together with friends to look at bacteria we grew in cultures from our bodies and houses with microscopes. We took samples from our hands, our cheeks, our toes, our sink, a cat’s paw pads, a moldy strawberry. It was fascinating to see what grew up close! Some of the bacteria were smooth looking, some furry, some were much smaller and bigger.
We went out to see birds near the Great Salt Lake. It was a really lovely afternoon!