unschooling

snow days

We’ve been snowshoeing and cross country skiing, most recently with my sister and Mom!

We’ve been sledding.

We celebrated the New Year with Chris’ parents who came all the way out to see us!

We’ve gotten back into the ninja class and our nature classes. Here we have Gavin doing the spider jump/climb, Gavin running up the curved wall, Gavin swinging on the giant wheel, then Lilah swinging from the smaller wheels, Lilah doing the spider jump/climb up to the bar at the top, Lilah hanging upside down.

It’s been snowy and cold out but still beautiful. I have been enjoying getting out, even though it’s hard to get motivated to get out the door unless we’ve made plans. So we’ve made lots of plans to get out!

We’ve been tracking animals by looking at prints in the snow. Here are tracks from a rabbit, tunnels from a vole, another vole track that looks like it just leaped into the snow and made a print of itself before tunneling away, a deer print and a squirrel print.

 

We’ve been reading The Complete Farside and the Wings of Fire books.

We’ve been looking at the golden ratio in nature and drawing it with our compasses.

Gavin’s been working on setting up a raspberry pi with camera on his 3D printer so he can watch and adjust it remotely.

Lilah’s been drawing a portrait of her new Dungeons and Dragons character, a deer ranger character.

I’ve been dreaming of sunshine and warmth but enjoying the sparkling snow and the quiet of winter.

 

Standard
unschooling

December things

We’ve been going to our nature class:

trimming and planting willows,

working on bows and bow drill kits,

throwing sticks at targets,

looking at animal tracks in the snow,

working on a shelter made with sticks, leaves, reeds and more leaves & other outdoor fun.

 

We’ve been hosting Dungeons & Dragons,

reading,

doing yoga,

playing & story telling,

 

working on special holiday projects,

going to aerial hammock classes (Lilah & I),

playing games,

baking cookies,

spending time with friends.

Here’s a painting I finished for Chris for the holidays of the Egyptian goddess Isis.

Today we went snowshoeing in the mountains. It was the first time for the kids and they loved it though we’ll make sure we bring hand warmers and hot cocoa next time. I brought my macro lens and took some close ups.

 

The world is new again, every day, and I’m so grateful to be here and see.

 

Standard
unschooling

To St Louis and St George

We flew to St. Louis so Chris could go to a conference and a work meet up. The rest of us explored some of the city.

The old buildings and big parks were beautiful. The city was very friendly and relaxed feeling. We went to the science center, planetarium and the zoo, all in a huge park together.

When Chris had a free day we all went to the city museum which was by far our favorite place, a huge building converted into art and an endless playground, much of it made of recycled building or factory materials. It had so many fascinating details as well as climbing and sliding opportunities everywhere. Even the birds enjoy it!

 

It truly was amazing and the kids were quite sad that we couldn’t go again while we were there.

Chris and I got to go meet with a bunch of his coworkers in the evenings and that was really fun! He works with great people.

We flew home, went to nature class and then drove down to St. George to meet my parents and sister for a few days down there.

We hiked a lot, went to a botanical garden, explored the ruins of an old mining town and the museum there and celebrated Chris’ birthday. There was an old charcoal kiln to see, along with a fascinating mining town museum. We found a hike that had a section where you hold on to a rope mounted above to traverse a big rock with footholds, some of them made by native peoples ages ago. It was very challenging but fun.

 

We ended our trip to Southern Utah with some dinosaur footprint spotting. There are so many in the area you probably walk past them all over but this one was marked for us just next to the trail.

Standard
unschooling

Lilah is 12!

Lilah’s birthday was celebrated happily with both sets of grandparents and my sister at our place. She picked out a special red sequin dress for the occasion and paired it with a red velvet cloak though she took that off pretty quickly so she could do handstands. She requested root beer floats and brownies. We had a lovely afternoon playing and chatting together.

Several months later because life has been so busy and full we had a handful of friends over for a dungeons & dragons tea party. It was Alice in Wonderland themed and everyone had a lovely time playing animal characters getting bigger and smaller and meeting a cheshire cat and then having tea of many kinds afterward with peanut butter chocolate cookies. Chris had help running the game from Gavin. It was just what Lilah wanted with her friends.

Lilah, at 12, loves cats. The real thing as well as pretending to be a cat and drawing cats. She loves all kinds and sizes of cats and nothing would make her happier than spotting some big cats outside one day. She loves chocolate and fried rice. She is very active, doing aerial silks, hanging upside down practically anywhere, climbing on boulders, playing on her new balance board. She spends quite a bit of time crafting and can make the most beautiful things. She loves all animals and hopes to rescue animals when she’s grown. Her favorite color is turquoise, favorite flower is lilac and favorite animal is of course, her own cat, Luna. She loves comfortable clothes, graphic novels, sequins, anything fluffy and everything cute.

She’s a wonderful, amazing person and I am so grateful to get to spend a lot of time with her, learning together and exploring together and enjoying each other.

 

Standard
art, books, unschooling

so much goodness

We’ve started some new classes: a ninja skills class where the kids do hanging and swinging and running up walls and an outdoor education class where we all learn about animals, plants, tool making, tracking and survival skills. They’ve been a lot of fun so far in both. Gavin has made progress in ninja class on hanging onto bars longer and swinging from bar to bar. Lilah has made progress in running up the curved wall to reach the top and swinging on 10 foot diameter wheels to the next huge wheel in recent weeks.

They’ve both learned about how to make stone tools, how to construct the kindling and wood for a fire, how to listen and look to the sky to navigate and how to be good stewards of the land in our outdoor ed. class. We are beginning on making bow drill kits which will allow the kids to start a fire more easily in the winter months.

We went to an amazing dance performance called Traces including a piece by David Charon and a piece by Ann Carlson, which opened my world up a little bit. At the end, the cast welcomed kids onto the stage for popcorn and dancing. Lilah is up there on the stage, thinking about dancing, which she eventually did. It was really special for the kids.

We’ve gotten out for quite a few hikes. One of the most recent was mainly to pick elderberries and the kids were a huge help spotting and picking them and in one case carrying them across a log eight feet above a stream! I made some elderberry syrup for the coming cool months. It’s this amazing magenta color.

We took a quick trip back to California so Chris could speak at a conference there. The kids did lots of bodyboarding and we found some shells and some critters. We found a spot where there were hundreds of washed up sea urchin spines right at the edge of the water, washing in and out. That was exciting. Lilah and I spotted something we initially thought was trash, stuck between rocks in a tide pool. It turned out to be a spiral shark egg case. We looked it up and it belongs to a horn shark. I wish I had gotten a picture of it but I was too worried about getting it back where it belonged once we realized what it was.

Then we met my parents and went to a beach with them for an evening and then spent the following day at the Monterey Bay aquarium, an amazing place. It was really a lot of fun and special to be able to go to the ocean with my parents.

We went on a trail nearby to an abandoned mine town called Bonanza, which interestingly has a lot of buildings still intact even though it’s on a ski resort’s land. We went in a few and resolved to come back (but probably next year because skiing will begin anytime now) because there was so much to explore.

 

We’ve been doing lots of reading as usual. Sometimes in cloaks.

Gavin’s been working hard on designs in TinkerCad for a 3D printer that will be on it’s way soon. He is so excited to work with it!

We’ve been hanging out with friends as much as we can fit in. Gavin plays online a lot with his buddies and Lilah does occasionally. We also meet them at pumpkin patches and museums and up the canyons for fall festivals and so much more.  Most weeks we host a Dungeons and Dragons campaign for the kids and their friends at our house. Chris runs the game and does a fantastic job and I play and try to support the kids and Chris as they figure out how to navigate the game’s challenges. They are slowly but steadily getting more competent and comfortable in their roles as both character and player. It’s so fun to watch!

I’ve been painting some and will have two paintings in an Autumn/Spooky themed show at a local vegan tattoo shop next week. I’m a bit nervous and also feeling proud of my minor accomplishment.

Life is beautiful.

Standard
unschooling

mountain outing

Me and Lilah and my sister went up to the Uintahs for a hike today.

It was beautiful, cooler and so fun to be together. We passed ten lakes on our way and took a few minutes to enjoy several. There were still some flowers in bloom though it’s looking a bit like fall already up there.

We spotted a frog and a salamander and tried out “the elevator”, our old nickname for a floating island of grass, moss and dirt on one of the lakes. We walked out on it and enjoyed it sinking and spraying and moving as we walked.

I also made good use of the opportunity to try out my macro lens some more. Here are a few of my favorite pictures taken with it from the day.

Standard
unschooling

Southern California

We took a week and made a trip to California, to visit the ocean.

On the way we stopped and explored Zzyxz, an old mineral springs spa town which has been taken over by a school for wildlife research but still has some abandoned buildings to roam. It was so incredibly hot, but still worth a short detour. The bath house was there, with an outdoor pool and some window frames looking away toward the mountains.

Here Gavin is “swimming” in the pool.

Nearby is a lodging house with tiny rooms in a long row. We found the whole area fascinating.

We also spotted some bighorn sheep along the road there.

The tide wasn’t super low for tidepooling when we were at the beach but we looked in them anyway and found a bunch of creatures roaming. We saw anemones, an urchin, a few ochre stars, mussels, barnacles of several types, hermit crabs, bigger crabs, fish, sea hares ranging from the size of a finger to the size of a melon, periwinkle and moon snails, a keyhole limpet, and some serpula.

 

The kids spent a bunch of time bodyboarding and wading and Chris and I got in a bit too. One afternoon we spotted a small bunch of dolphins off shore.

I had a lot of fun trying out my new macro lens that attaches to my phone! It was tricky to use on tidepools because it needs to be so close the subject so I mostly used it on dry or recently washed up items. These are a lobster tail, a crystalline iceplant seedpod, kelp, driftwood, seaweed. I really enjoyed messing about with it and am looking forward to doing much more. Thanks, Mama and Daddy!

Several nights, Chris and I got to take night walks on the beach as there was one a block from the place we stayed. It was lovely. We watched the waves and the birds.

On the way out of town we stopped at a sculpture garden to see “Bunny Henge.”

Farewell for now, Ocean. We’ll see you soon.

On our drives, we listened to the first two books in the Chronicles of Prydain by Lloyd Alexander, The Last Dragonslayer by Jasper Fforde, and began Rivals, Frenemies Who Changed the World by Scott McCormick.

Standard