books, unschooling

fall in the mountains

Lilah’s been finger knitting. She’s made a scarf, two necklaces, some bracelets, a head band and some curtain ties that I know about plus likely just as much that I don’t.

We went swimming and worked on breathing while swimming.

Lilah took a lyra class and has been doing more aerial silks classes. I do yoga while she does aerials which is perfect.

We’ve been listening to the Brotherband Chronicles, The Outcasts by John Flanagan in the car. It’s so good.

Gavin is working with his Odyssey of the Mind team on a Star Wars themed challenge. They are working on a play with various characters and scenarios. It will be his turn soon to be a student leader and bring and support a short activity for the group so he’s been brainstorming about that.

I’ve been working on Halloween costumes. The kids weren’t sure what they wanted to do until just a few days ago so I’ve been scrambling to collect pieces and parts for all of us and to make Lilah’s costume but it’s fun to do even if we are on a tight schedule.

We took a hike up to Fifth Water hot springs with my sister.

It was a beautiful cool day and there were still colored leaves everywhere though a bit less vibrant than the previous week. When we go up to the hot springs the river runs blue and a bit cloudy and there are many small pools with rocks, waterfalls, reeds. We found one that nobody else was using and my sister and I enjoyed immersing ourselves while the kids dipped their feet and legs in and explored. Gavin had brought a book so he read for a while as we soaked.

We watched a Ginormous Pumpkin Regatta, a boat race in giant pumpkins with my family. It was really entertaining. There were some capsized pumpkins and one that was so big it could barely move aside from spinning in a circle. I want to know more about growing those pumpkins. How big are the plants? How much soil do they need? Do you pick off all the other pumpkins to grow one as big as possible? How do they taste? If the growers spend up to 30 hours a week caring for the pumpkin, what is it they’re doing? I may do some research to satisfy my curiosity. However, I doubt we’ll be growing giant pumpkins anytime. The usual size kind took over our yard just fine this year. We got 4 orange pumpkins from two vines and 2 gray-green pumkins from another vine that grew from seeds in the compost. The kids are particularly excited about the green ones.

We’ve been going to a homeschool gymnastics open gym session with friends. The kids get to use the equipment and play for several hours.

One of our favorite places, Red Butte Garden, a botanical center near us and where Chris and I were married has a Halloween activity every year called Garden After Dark that we enjoy. This year it was Alice in Wonderland themed. It was really fun to hunt for gems for our key to the portal to another world, search for white rabbits and enjoy the Queen of Hearts reciting Jabberwocky. They had games like flamingo croquet and giant tea cup decorations and also fun information about plants like there are roses that change color and riddles about flowers and herbs. We had a lot of fun and came home with wildflower seeds and chamomile (tea) seeds.




There was computer play and Strawberry Shortcake watching.

Gavin rebuilt his Lego game, with new pieces and new directions.  They played with that after he was done setting it up.

Then we began painting the costume again!  Gavin and Lilah set to work painting the entire torso piece blue while I put some more brown on the hair and painted the mask/bandana blue.  We cut and glued some black mesh behind the holes for Gavin to see out of and then painted blue over the exposed bits.

We admired a tomatillo husk from the garden that has weathered and is now just the fibrous bits, like a ball of lace.  It made a beautiful shadow in the autumn sunlight.


Soon the torso piece was ready for us to draw the details on in pencil and begin painting them.

I painted the white, black and dark blue and the kids worked on the gold.

While we were waiting for those to dry we went to the park.


Gavin rode his bike and Lilah and I walked.  We brought some hotwheels to race around.

There was monkey bar crossing and hanging upside down.

We looked at how objects make crisp, clear shadows down low to the ground but vague, soft-edged shadows up higher.

And more car racing.

When we got home it was time to put the finishing touches on the costume.  We added the second coat of gold because it was not very opaque the first time and then I painted the lightning on and did various other touch-ups.  Gavin tried it on and it looks great!  He’s very excited!  I am very happy it’s ready to go!

Lilah put on her skates and played tag with Gavin around the house until dinner was ready.



There was computer play to begin the day.

They got out Lilah’s Lego Creator set that builds either a cat, dog or rabbit and put the rabbit together.  They carefully read the instructions, found the right pieces and negotiated who did which parts of the building.


We worked on Gavin’s costume more after breakfast.

A few more holes were cut and then more paper mache was added.  When we finally finished the paper mache process, Lilah disappeared into their room to read for a while and Gavin designed and built a Lego game.  After breakfast, they played his new game together.  There was lots of giggling and explaining.


Here’s a close-up of the game board, all set up.  As a player, you choose a character who navigates around the board, rolling a dice to decide the outcome of various challenges.



After lunch we practiced some Spanish and then painted a little bit on the parts of the costume that were dry enough and that needed the colors of paint we had in the house already.  Brown for the hair and yellow for the face.


There was more Lego play for the kids while I painted the eyes and eyebrows black on Gavin’s costume.

We happened upon a really fun science video: showing refraction.  We all want to try this out!

Then we headed to the roller skating rink.  It was crowded today because the district has off for UEA weekend, but still plenty of room for us.  The kids started without the supports, then skated with them and afterward, both of them skated free and happy and even begged to stay later to skate more on their own!  They are getting better and better and it’s really fun to watch them enjoy it.  They always like to try things too on the rink, like skating backward or turning around in circles.  Today it was skating in a crouch.  I practiced my slowing and stopping and bringing my skates together and apart without lifting off the ground.


When we got home it was time to paint the eye highlights white while Lilah put on her skates and skated around the living room and then it was dinner time.


Chris headed to the craft store to get lots of blue paint while I read and sang to and cuddled with the kids before bed.



Gavin began with the new Lego Creator game on the computer.  Lilah played a princess Lego game.

There was Lego play off the computer, with our blocks.  “Up, up and awaaaaaay!”


There was a disagreement about playing girl characters in their lego play so we had a long conversation about boys and girls and what the difference is, in real life and in tv and movies.  Gavin and I talked about how he likes actual girls, but not girl characters most of the time.  Many girl characters from tv shows and movies are not very appealing to me either.  I hope he and sister can grow to see the difference between actual girls, who are strong and funny and powerful and silly and smart and talented and awesome just like boys are, and caricatures of femininity that are so often full of inability to act or make decisions, and who inevitably need rescuing.  Ugh!

We dug out some good books we own that we haven’t enjoyed in a while and read together and separately:  Monster Hug by David Ezra Stein and Polka Bats and Octopus Slacks by Calef Brown.  I also read to them from Searching For Dragons by Patricia Wrede while they finished up their lunch.

There was Lego store making for  buying spaghetti dinner supplies, with cashiers and costs and change and bags.

Lilah did some drawing.


We did some Spanish practice together – clothes and question words this time.

We measured, cut and glued the torso for Gavin’s costume together, glued on some scrunched up newspaper for hair on the head and then we cut newspaper strips and began paper mache on the head and a tiny bit on the edges of the torso.  We still need to cut eye holes, arm holes, do a second round of paper mache, paint it and find a shirt and pants that will work with our color scheme!!  I don’t have any photos of the paper mache process because Chris wasn’t home at the time.  Maybe tomorrow we can get some when we do another round.

After de-gluing ourselves, there was dinner and books and songs and cuddles.



There was Pokemon watching and playing.

After breakfast there was more Playmobil castle play.

“Mama, will you read us a chapter of Wise Child?”  “Sure!”

We worked on the Lego costume some more.  We realized what we’d done last night wasn’t wide enough so we started over.  We cut the cardboard, added a neck piece, taped it together and then hot glued it.  We held it in place with a ball to keep it as round as possible.  Next we’ll either begin on the torso or we’ll paper mache the head.


We finished Wise Child.


We looked at our new vanilla extract batch, started yesterday, just starting to turn golden after being clear yesterday.  While we were in the kitchen, the kids examined the drawers in the kitchen, noticing how they roll on wheels and comparing them to the drawers in their bedroom.

We went to the skating rink and we found they open later now so we headed back home, sewed some elastic on Lilah’s wings for her hands and then it was time to return to the rink.


We skated for almost two hours before heading home for dinner and bedtime. Every time we go, we each get a little bit better.  Gavin is now enjoying himself and getting along fast with the support.   He can also make it well along the edge or holding hands.  Lilah is able to skate on her own, though she still falls fairly often.   She enjoys using the support too, but doesn’t really need it anymore.  I am getting better at different foot patterns, slowing down and stopping which I never knew how to do.  It’s important when there’s a kid in the way and you need to avoid them or when you want to exit the rink!  So much fun!




Gavin played Chima Online.

There was Pokemon watching.

Then we got our our newly unearthed Playmobil toys from their closet and they went to work building castles.


Gavin had the gray one put together in no time.  Lilah had a harder time with hers so they ended up playing together with the gray one.  Later on Gavin helped her put the white and pink one together.

After lunch we headed to several stores to shop for halloween costume making supplies: felt, paint, a floral wreath, and lots of cardboard.

When we got home we began working on the butterfly costume.  Lilah got out her old wings (We made monarch wings last year) for reference and we printed a picture of the butterfly she picked: the Utah Copper butterfly.


With some chalk, we traced half of the old butterfly wings and then, looking at the picture of the Copper, we altered the outline.  Then I carefully cut it and then folded it in half and cut the other half.


Next we got out red, and various blue felt colors and began making the pattern.  Lilah placed them on the butterfly and I helped her adjust them.  We plugged in the glue gun while we cut felt.  When we were done cutting all the pieces, we glued them on.  Lilah was very interested in how hot the felt was right after gluing and how quickly it cooled.  We finished making the design, but I’ll need to sew on the elastic for her to wear it another day.


While Lilah and I worked on her costume, Gavin researched Lego minifigures on the computer and chose a character.  We printed out a picture and then he made a list of paint colors we will need.

After we finished the butterfly design, it was time for Gavin to go to his soccer game and Lilah to go to Spiral Scouts.  Lilah and Chris dropped Gavin and I off with our bikes and then headed to scouts.


After the soccer game, Gavin and I biked home, about two miles.  It was his first real experience biking on the roads so I think he took a lot in about where to ride, where to stop and where to look for traffic.  We even went across the train tracks and had a very close view while we waited for a train to pass.


When we got home we had a few minutes so we began measuring and cutting cardboard for Gavin’s Lego minifigure costume.  He set up the table for us and got out the ruler and box cutter and we cut a piece out for a cylindrical head.


Then it was dinner time together and cuddles and songs.