a week of time at home

The kids have been sick with a respiratory bug this week and we have several Halloween events coming up so between feeling ill, planning for parties and trying to recuperate we’ve been sticking close the past few days.

There has been much Lego story telling, Minetest and Minecraft play on the computer, watching some movies.

Gavin dug out his K’nex rollercoaster set and doggedly kept at it despite it being complicated and missing a few pieces until it was set up and working.

Lilah and I tested a gingerbread cookie recipe she saw and desperately wanted to make so we can bring them for the Halloween Carnival we’re going to on Friday. They came out very well, despite having to make over the recipe twice and do the opposite of the directions in one case. This is why with gluten free, vegan baking, we test ahead of time!

There’s been a lot of kitten play time. She likes to play with the kids’ toys which is pretty cute except there are tiny kitten teeth marks on some things the kids really like. No toys have needed to be thrown away after her treatment yet, though. Just a cardboard box or two. The kids are learning so much by caring for her and watching her grow used to our home. Lilah told me a story from Luna’s perspective the other day about how she felt at the adoption center, how she felt meeting us, how she felt the first days in our home and how she feels now in our home. It was a wonderful and appropriate story.

We went to the planetarium for a short, close-by outing. Gavin amused us (okay, okay, me) by trying on the astronaut helmet/robot head in the shop there.


Gavin and I played several games of No Stress Chess followed by one game of Chess.


The kids made stir fry for dinner with Chris’ support. They picked which veggies and what they’d like to put on it (broccoli, snap peas, bell pepper, mushrooms and tofu with soy sauce, rice vinegar and peanut butter sauce. They cut the food and fried it, made a sauce and helped serve it. They felt really great about this and I’d love to try to make it a regular weekly event as cooking and kitchen familiarity is an essential skill for healthy happy people.

Gavin impressed me the other day by relating out the blue to me that he will stop and think before believing what other people tell him! I am SO super impressed by this revelation, even though it came out of watching a movie and not life events. This sort of thing has been a worry of mine for a while because he happens to give people the benefit of the doubt almost all the time and he rarely declares any sort of intention or recognition of the way the world works in social settings like this. I am so proud of him! The growth he’s made since the time when words were not yet a common language for us and every abstract communication was virtually impossible is so incredible and I am grateful every day for every little bit of what we have now. I still love the snuggles and hand holding and lap sitting though. I’m a lucky, lucky mama.



There was some coolmathgames.com time and then an episode of Wildcratts exploring Dolphin language and then, of course, legos.


I offered to help them start Gavin’s new crystal growing kit, but they wanted to play with legos first so I instead snaked our bathroom sink.  I despise plumbing but still prefer to do it myself instead of paying someone if possible.  This particular problem only took about twenty minutes of effort and now the sink is working well again so I’m feeling pleased.

They decided to work on some beading… taking apart some old necklaces and making new things.

We opened a packet of Pop Rocks and sprinkled them in a cup of water; watched them bubble and pop and dissolve.  The kids didn’t want to eat them but were fascinated to watch and listen to them release their gasses.  We talked about carbon dioxide gas and then we ended up talking about the artificial coloring in the water from the candy and how there are natural sources of color for foods too.

Gavin taught Lilah how to play Battleship with Chris’ old set.  “Tell me if F-6 is a hit and then put a red peg on the ship if it is.”


I went to the store to get some supplies for lasagna and some non-residue shampoo for me while the kids played Harry Potter Chess/legos/maze making.

When I got home they were ready to work on the crystal growing kit so Gavin read the instructions, measured out the water and stirred the crystal powder to dissolve it.

He placed the rocks and I poured it over them.  Then we examined it closely.


Then he had to read the clock and figure out what time it would be in an hour when he is supposed to sprinkle an additional pinch of crystal powder on each rock.  It took him a bit, but he got it.

They played some more Chess, this time with the Harry Potter Chess set, while they waited for the second phase of crystal preparation.



After that they worked on some more window art painting.


And then Lilah requested I read some more of Madame Pamplemousse to them before dinner and bed and snuggles and singing.



We are home and back to our routine (if I can call our go-with-the-flow days routine) after a wonderful visit with family in Washington over Christmas filled with jokes, hugs, games of all varieties and lots of good food.  I asked Lilah if she was happy to be home and she said, “Yes, because my green bean bag is at home and I LOVE it!”  It was one of her solstice gifts from Chris and I and it is indeed well loved thus far.


This morning Lilah slept in after being a bit sick still and a long, long drive back from Washington Saturday- Sunday.  Gavin and I started making pancakes and then when she woke up she helped too.

They played with their new lego set and their old lego sets.  They acted out some scenes from Harry Potter and used various lego people parts to make a Dumbledore.

Lilah got out her window suncatcher set and we peeled off the butterfly she made before we left to put on our window.


It looks very bright with the snow coating everything gray and white outside.


While I went outside and shoveled snow from our steps and sidewalk, the kids played No Stress Chess together – a variation on chess where each player draws a card before playing each turn that tells her/him which piece to move (and also illustrates the way each piece moves).  It makes the game more accessible and more random and they both seem to be really enjoying it.


After several games, the chess game evolved.  Animals were added, with new powers.  There was a borrower who borrowed things.  There was a story-teller.  I love watching them create together.


Gavin played with his Praxinoscope animation kit.  It spins and the pictures go around and if you look through the opening on the side it looks like a moving animation of the individual images.  In Gavin’s words: “It has a mirror that reflects the pictures from the flat part.  The (view piece) is rectangular so it blocks out the other pictures and you only see one.”

IMG_3002We read some poems by Liliane Moore and Sudeep Sen.

The kids set up Lilah’s new Wildcraft game, a cooperative game about herbs, particularly healing herbs and started a game but didn’t get far before dinner time.

I read some more of a new book called Madame Pamplemousse and Her Incredible Edibles by Rupert Kingfisher.  I thought it would be perfect for Lilah and got it for the trip to Washington and we’re in the middle of it, having started reading it up there.  It is charming and empowering story of a girl who likes to cook.




We visited the International Peace Gardens today, wandered around, admiring architecture, the Jordan river, bridges, monuments and playing some more Ingress while we were there.

The kids did a lot of running and were story telling as they explored, imagining themselves as Nausicaa from Miyazaki’s Nausicaa and Kai from the Ninjago series.  It’s been good to get outside more, especially in the sunshine.


Gavin and I played Chess and this time he captured the first piece. I probably was more excited about that than he was!


We had lunch and then headed to the Museum of Natural Curiosity for climbing, running, zip-lining, spinning and more zip-lining.

The moon was coming up as we were leaving; a few drops shy of full.  It was beautiful, even with fences and parking lots in view.


After dinner we listened to some more Ella Fitzgerald, Louis Armstrong collaborations and then headed out for some more holiday light seeing and Ingress playing.  We still haven’t made it to the candy window displays at Macy’s used to be ZCMI.  Maybe tomorrow…



Gavin watched Pokemon and played on coolmathgames.com this morning.  When Lilah got up she played a game on cool math games and Gavin helped her.

We went to the library to return some books and find new ones to borrow.  They each picked a few and I picked a few and they sat down to read while I finished.  Then we stopped to pick up a few things at the grocery store before coming home.


I read some more of Matilda to the kids while Lilah cuddled with me and Gavin built with legos.

Lilah and I played several games of Rat-A-Tat-Cat and she won every time including one time when she managed to get only zeros (the best possible card)!  Gavin read some magazines while she and I played.


After that Gavin and I played Chess together.


We worked on a puzzle with barns, carriages and hot air balloons.


Lilah made a few things out of our tangram blocks.


Gavin rested (he’s not feeling so great today) while Lilah and I did some Bollywood dancing (dance moves inspired by Bollywood films of India) before dinner was ready.



They began with playing coolmathgames.com.

Then they moved on to Lego play, interspersed with a game they made up with one of them as puppeteer and controls the other one’s movements.

We made some mini donuts for breakfast.

We played a few games of Chess an Lilah did some gymnastics.

After that we headed off to the Museum of Natural Curiosity.  Here they are watching themselves appear on a screen in front of them.


They climbed and slid.  They put on puppet shows and made stop motion animation movies.  They explored the Magic Shop.  They spun and zip-lined.

On the drive to and from we listened to a recording of Howl’s Moving Castle by Dianna Wynne Jones, one of our favorite movies as well as an excellent book.

When we got home, there was just enough time for a game of Mermaid’s Island for the kids while dinner was finished up.





We got up and got ready to go to Kingsbury Hall to watch the Big Bad Musical by Univ. of Utah Youth Theatre.


It was a fun story with beautiful costumes, catchy songs and had actors as young as 8 up to 17.  The audience voted for one of three different endings, so it was fun to participate in the storyline.  The kids had a wonderful time watching and then we stopped at the playground between the theatre and our car for a few minutes on the way home.  The leaves are coming down and our feet crunched across them on our way.

When we got home there was Lego play and lunch.

We decided we wanted more park and playground time so Gavin got his bike out and we headed to our local park. There was swinging, sliding, racing, monkey bar crossing and fly observation. (The slide has been covered with tiny flying insects the last several visits.)  When we got home, they worked together to bring Gavin’s bike up the steps.  I watched as they worked out how to do it together and succeeded without any support even though the bike is quite heavy.


Gavin and I played a game of Chess while Lilah watched and made suggestions.

The mice have been coming in since the weather has gotten colder and our live, humane trap caught one of them.  The kids like watching them for a bit before we take them out of our neighborhood and let them go.


Soon it was time for Gavin’s soccer game.  The kids went with Chris to that while I stayed home to squeeze in a workout.



There was Katamino playing and building.  In Katamino you race against your opponent to fill your box completely without leaving spaces.  You each get a certain set of blocks.  It’s a bit like Tetris but with real blocks.  Plus, you can build animals out of the blocks after your game.  Lilah made a pony with mane and tail.  And then there was Mermaid Island playing, a cooperative game.


They played in their world populated today by Lego creatures and landscapes.  They spend quite a bit of time deciding what kinds of pieces to use for what.  Here I think they are looking for parts for a dog they are going to make.


Gavin and I played Chess.  We finished two games and then Lilah wanted to play with me.  In the game with Lilah there was lots of knocking pieces over on purpose along with explaining how different pieces move.  Gavin’s gotten a whole lot better than last year at anticipating moves and seeing possibilities, but our games are still very lopsided.  I will often point out to him that he’s moving into a dangerous position to help us both enjoy it more and give him a better chance.  I have many fond memories of playing Chess when I was younger and often feeling quite frustrated by my own abilities not being what I wanted them to be.

Gavin requested again that we get No Stress Chess which is a set of cards that levels the playing field by telling you which piece to move every turn.  I definitely think it would be fun to do that with the kids when they are just beginning to get the idea of the game.

Then it was time to go roller skating.  Today the kids both skated on their own for about a half hour before wanting the balance supports the rink offers.  They are doing great but I think they get tired and then prefer the supports because it’s more fun to worry less about falling.  Pretty soon they’ll be zooming around me out on the rink.  They’re getting close!  We like to give high fives as we skate past each other.

After skating we came home and had dinner together and then read another chapter of Searching For Dragons before bed.