unschooling

Nashville

We flew to Nashville for a bit of fun and a bit of work that was fun. None of us had been to Tennessee before. Chris went to a conference and spent some time with colleagues and co-workers while the kids and I explored and then we all explored a bit together too. It was Lilah’s first time on a plane and Gavin’s first in a looong time so they were a bit nervous but did just fine. The waiting in the airport and on the plane was the hardest part. Lilah watched that Trolls movie that I really don’t want to see (so now I don’t have to!) and Gavin watched part of Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find them and part of Doctor Strange on the flights.

We went to the zoo. Lilah loved seeing the red pandas and the clouded leopards. Those red pandas are so fluffy and cute. Gavin liked the snowy owl and the goats which were pretty entertaining characters. I liked seeing their huge collection of frogs, especially tree frogs of all different kinds, colors and sizes and I liked the lorikeets who came to perch on people if they felt friendly enough. Gavin enjoyed the lorikeets and Lilah enjoyed them on other people, but after one landed on her head and left again, she pulled her jacket over her head to keep them away.

We headed out on a forested trail a few miles out of the city by a lake and enjoyed some exercise (me walking, kids jumping from log to log and then climbing along the fence) and spotting some turtles and a blue heron. The kids were interested to see there are many kinds of trees, plants and animals we have in Utah, but also some that we don’t.

The Adventure Science Center was packed with fun and interesting things to do. Lilah and I loved playing with the magnetic sand and liquid inside of other liquid with strong magnets. There was a space exhibit area and a train and lots of games and fun things to try. Chris and Gavin tried the space challenge and the kids went on a moon walk simulator several times. Chris was really disappointed that the computer with the program to show how you might look in the future at various ages didn’t work for him. The tinkering lab was fun too. Gavin made a car and subsequent ramp to test it on and Lilah made… you guessed it… a cat.

We all visited the Johnny Cash Museum and some nearby parks.

We also played games and read at the place we stayed. Here’s a drawing Lilah and I made one evening. We each add something and then pass it to the other person who adds something and so on. It still makes me laugh.

I wish we had been able to do some swimming and boating but those warm weather activities weren’t available in December.

Chris and I got together with many of his coworkers from North America plus several from other areas who were in town for WordCamp for dinner one evening. It was really fun to meet people he works with and get to know some of them a bit as they are all spread across the world and so I haven’t had the chance before. I am always impressed by what I hear and see of Human Made’s ideas and people and so glad Chris is part of it.

We went to the Frist Art Institute and enjoyed seeing an exhibition by Nick Cave that was absolutely amazing and the kids quite enjoyed looking at it as well. There was also a hands on art room for kids (and big kids) to create some of their own things so we spent an hour there as well, making prints, doing fractal art on the computer and various other things. One of my favorites in the Nick Cave exhibit was this room with a room of painted bamboo curtains that appeared to change as you moved and that was so many different things and also, nothing specific. Fascinating!

We visited the replica of the parthenon they have and it was impressive but also not very fun for longer than a few minutes. There were some huge trees and some fun swings to try nearby though.

It was another good adventure.

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unschooling

Wild Wonders animal sanctuary

We drove south a bit to Genola to go to Wild Wonders animal sanctuary with friends. Before we arrived we stopped at a park to picnic.

At the sanctuary, first we helped wash bowls and pull weeds, then we went in to visit the animals.

They have so many animals, some from accidents in wild lives and some were pets who couldn’t be kept and some were from zoos or other similar programs who were too stressed in their busy environments.

We were met out front by a cat who helped give us the tour. Mouse stayed by us the whole trip. Lilah had her in her arms in approximately two seconds after spotting her.

We saw and fed dandelions to a tortoise who’d just come out of hibernation. We learned tortoises are much better predictors of spring weather than groundhogs.

We saw pygmy pigs, a hedgehog, rats, lots of rabbits, more cats, a peacock displaying for the chickens, an emu, a chinchilla.

There were coyotes who’d been rescued and couldn’t be released.

There were foxes who might be released at some point and some who cannot be. We got to watch their enrichment which this time was a box of plastic balls for the fox to cache all around her enclosure. They have many tunnels in their spaces to hide and sleep and play in as well as things to climb on. She was so excited to open the box and was obviously ecstatic about the balls. She ran frantically from the box to her many hiding spots to bury her treasures in many places.

We got to to inside two fox enclosures and meet the foxes who love to play, sort of like dogs. They sniff and lick and climb and tug and make lots of fascinating sounds. They loved smelling the kids and one took a fancy to Gavin and kept trying to pull his arm and pull him into her den because she liked him so much. We learned that red foxes are not always red (We met two black colored Red Foxes) but you can identify them by a white patch on the tips of their tails.

There was a ringtail cat (not actually a cat, they are a relative of racoons, but look a bit like a cat) which I’d never seen before though they are native to many parts of our state. They’re nocturnal and experts at not being spotted. We’ve seen evidence of them while camping but not actually seen the animals so it was fun to see one.

A marmot came out and chirruped for cookies from the kids which she loved begging for as they held them out to her. The high-pitched noise they make is rather ear splitting.

The raccoons were showing off their climbing skills, maneuvering upside down from the tops of their space while waiting for treats from the kids. The kids held them out and the raccoons used both paws to scoop the food off of their palms and into their mouths. They have an excellent sense of touch and prefer to explore their environment that way, we learned. Our host did a great job of telling the kids why it is harmful to feed wild raccoons.

We met a cockatoo named Wallace and another named Cocoa. Many of her birds had plucked many of their feathers off due to stress from their prior homes and that’s why they are living at Wild Wonders now, where they have more space and less people in their environments all the time.

The kids got to see many animals you don’t usually see up close and learn so much about them and actually help out a bit. It was a thrill for all the kids to see coyotes and foxes up close, especially. It’s important to me that the kids know about our wildlife and learning about them through animals that need special care or are not able to be wild again for one reason or another is a valuable thing!

 

 

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