unschooling

A whole lot of Holi

We celebrated the Indian holiday Holi with friends in the middle of the week at a park and then again this weekend at the Hindu temple nearby with thousands of people. Both were so much fun!

In preparation for the day with friends we tried making our own color powder and while it was interesting is was so time consuming I don’t know that we’ll try it again. It took hours to dry and then it wasn’t as colorful as we had hoped. Traditionally during Holi, a spring holiday, you throw colored powder at friends and family until everyone is very brightly colored. When you throw color at someone, it is seen as an act of love and blessing. It also symbolizes a victory of good over evil. The kids loved running around and getting messy and coloring each other.

Before the color throwing, the kids roamed the park, climbing trees and fighting with foam swords Gavin brought.

Gavin also got out his Magic The Gathering board game and happily played that with his friends for an hour or so.

There were a couple of huge hawks building nest right above us and we watched them fly overhead and bring sticks back to finish off their huge nest.

We also tried some Indian dessert recipes at home and made laddoo with chickpea flour, grain halwa with oat flour and carrot halwa. They were all quite delicious!

At the big temple, they had yummy Indian food to eat and music and dancing and a huge color throw on the hour each hour where so many people throw simultaneously that it creates a rainbow cloud for a few seconds. We try to go every year because we enjoy it so much. Lilah was thrilled that her favorite dessert, the halwa, was mango flavored this year!

 

We went home rainbow-colored and happy, twice.

 

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unschooling

another week of living, loving, learning

Gavin read poems from Where the Sidewalk Ends by Shel Silverstein to Lilah. He stopped to eat a bite of pancake and Lilah immediately requested he read more.

Lilah and I made some fairy wings and skirts for our May Day event.

We tested out a new giant bubble recipe.

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May Day/Beltane festival with our unschooling group including fairy and knight dress up, boffer weapon making, sidewalk chalk drawing, flower crown designing, may pole dancing and singing. Lovely!

We’ve had friends over for Lego building and restaurant pretending and snack eating.

I dug holes for some lilacs to create a hedge in our back yard and dug up the garden in anticipation of planting vegetables.

Gavin and I played Chess.

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Lilah saved up for a new Lego set and the kids put that together after a great discussion about how Gavin could help but in a way and amount Lilah was happy with.

We saw the first oriole of the year and put out nectar for them.

Gavin and I made a boffer sword (foam covered for play without injury) so he could meet friends who had boffer weapons for a battle at the park.

A new tinker crate arrived and the kids put together an earthquake table and buildings to test on the table with much gusto.

Lilah drew a lovely cat.

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We watched documentaries about owls and hummingbirds.

Gavin mowed the lawn in order to save up for a Lego set he would like.

We planted most of the garden. The kids picked out potatoes, corn, chiles and helped plant those. I also planted tomatoes, eggplant, squash of various kinds, tomatillos and lemon cucumbers. Still to be put in are carrot seeds.

We met friends at the farm and enjoyed antique machinery, climbing trees, animals and a large pile of hay bales for a slide.

 

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unschooling

Kanab: animals & wildnerness

We’re just home from Kanab, Utah where we went to volunteer at Best Friends Animal Society’s Sanctuary. We went early so we could spend the weekend visiting a few of the beautiful areas nearby with Chris.

On our drive we listened to the last chapters of The Railway Children by Edith Nesbit and on the way home we began Jeremy Thatcher, Dragon Hatcher by Bruce Coville.

We stopped at the Coral Pink Sand Dunes the first evening and explored. It was beautiful, though my color senses would classify the sand color as orange, not pink. Maybe right at sunrise or sunset the dunes would look pink. We saw animal tracks and wind patterns and sunk our feet into the dunes, slowly climbing to the top of the tallest dune we could find and then ran and slid down the steep sides.

The next day we went to Zion National Park and made our way up Many Pools trail where thanks to lots of snow and rain there were many, many pools.

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We spotted lizards and birds, chipmunks and frogs, tadpoles and eggs in the upper pools which was so much fun! We did a little research at home and think the frogs are Canyon Tree Frogs. There was lots of paintbrush in bloom and a few bushes with flowers the bees were enjoying.

We saw tracks of rabbits, lizards, and deer or possibly great horned sheep. There was lots of climbing rocks and playing with sand. It’s a beautiful place and I want to go spend more days there soon.

On Monday & Tuesday, Chris worked while the kids and I headed to Best Friends Sanctuary. We cleaned rabbit houses and filled their water bowls and said hello to any inquisitive rabbits on Monday morning. Gavin watered grass outside for the rabbits to play on and Lilah and I refilled the outdoor areas hay supplies. We each held a rabbit for a few minutes too.

After lunch we went to one of the cat houses, for older and special needs cats. There were forty to sixty cats in each house, split into four rooms of 10-12 each, every room with an indoor area and huge outdoor area. We visited all the cats, petting, feeding, grooming, lots of playing with and talking with them. Each one has a story and unique personality. Gavin particularly enjoyed playing with the cats with toys. We fed one bunch of older cats baby food which they loved. One of the cats jumped on my shoulder and stayed there, purring in my ear for quite a while. We took some cats for walks in cat strollers and Lilah decided we need one at home right away!

Tuesday we visited the parrot area, cleaned up the cockatiel room, scrubbing windows, tables and cages clean and putting fresh newspaper out, then scraping and sweeping the floor. The birds were interested in what we were doing and even flew down on the floor to check out the sweeping process.

We also said hello to the parrots, macaws and cockatoos there and heard about how they care for them from a caretaker.

One of the wildlife caretakers took us on a walk to visit all the wild animals who are permanently living on the grounds and showed us a barn owl’s warning dance and turkey mating dance tracks in the sand. It was fun to see the animals there and even more exciting to hear about the wild animals in the clinic who they are caring for and hoping to release back into the wild when they are ready: a baby hummingbird, four baby cottontails, a pygmy owl, a screech owl. Most of the animals permanently at the sanctuary were there due to human interference; either wild animals as pets gone wrong or car accidents.

In the afternoon we headed to a different cat building and met more cats, mainly healthy cats in this one. Lilah made friends with a shy tortie while Gavin played with many cats very excited to enjoy toys to chase and jump at. I visited with some of the shyer ones and petted any who were interested. There was a beautiful cat who jumped on my lap and stayed there for the next 45 minutes until I had to go. Lilah asked about a kitty who wobbled all over the place and we learned she has a neurological condition that makes her balance off.

It was an amazing experience and we are already planning to go back! It was fun and interesting and the kids were able to help readily and didn’t complain or bystand at all (which I’d been a little worried about, having no first-hand experience with what tasks we might be given.) It made a big impression on all of us and I felt that we were making a difference for the animals and the caretakers both. One of the cat caretakers told me that they are often so busy taking care of all of the animals immediate needs; food, water, cleaning, medications, etc. that they don’t get much time to interact otherwise, but that volunteers doing just that makes the cats more adoptable by increasing and extending their comfort and experience with people and therefore helps find animals homes.

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