a camping eclipse!


We headed up to Idaho, right outside of Stanley, to meet family and friends at a campground to watch the eclipse. We also got to check out lots of fun things to do while the moon was not in front of the sun. One favorite activity was learning to play Balderdash. Players make up definitions for obscure words, acronymns, movies, dates and then the made up definitions are given along with the real one, and everyone guesses which is the correct definition. It was really fun!

Chris and Gavin rafted and kayaked the Salmon River. It was Gavin’s first time rafting and he loved it! It was Chris’ first time kayaking a river and he loved it too. I didn’t go because Lilah had a negative experience recently on a rafting ride, getting too wet and cold and scared and firmly told us she didn’t want to raft. So, we listened to her wishes and hope that someday, maybe soon, she’ll be ready to brave the raft too.

We went to a nearby lake to hike, paddleboat, kayak and paddle board. There were so many fish, little and big, silver and even some red kokanee. It was our first time on paddle boards and Lilah and I had so much fun! Gavin enjoyed the kayak more and Chris preferred that too.

On one visit we took a speed boat across the lake to hike the other side. We found a lovely waterfall.

There were many natural hot springs near Stanley so we visited one at the edge of the river one evening. The spring was hot! and the river was cold! and every so often you’d find a sweet spot where the two mixed together in the right proportions, but mostly the tops of my legs were hot and my back was cold. It was fun to see how different depths and sizes of pools changed the water temperature. Gavin spent the evening on a huuuge log jam, pulling sticks out, tossing them in the river, finding treasure (fishing floats, beautiful sticks) buried in the hill of wood.

And then there was the eclipse. Incredible! Words can’t describe the experience adequately. We had breakfast and then it was time for the partial eclipse to begin. We passed out glasses and watched the moon ever so slowly cross in front of the sun from the top right edge, slowly, slowly toward the bottom left. It was warming up when the eclipse began but it started getting colder again after maybe a half hour or so and by the time the moon completely eclipsed the sun it was much colder. We checked the time and watched the progress and watched the shadows change from rounded edges to crescent shards as the eclipse got past 90%. It seemed to get murky and strange though it was still quite bright until suddenly the light was gone. It was dark enough to feel like night, though not as complete as night, similar to the darkness between twilight and full night.

We took off our glasses and saw the sun black, it’s corona red around it and surrounded by white shining light that was pointed in several directions, like we draw stars. You could see the corona moving, spitting, exploding. We could see other stars. The animals quieted. The humans did too. It was such an amazing experience it was hard to take it that it was actually happening. And then, 2 minutes and 13 seconds later, a shine, and then a burst of light out from the other side of the moon and then the crescent grew and grew into our usual round sun. The warmth returned, the usual activities of the day returned.

After talking with friends upon our return home, many of them watched the partial eclipse, not realizing how amazing a total eclipse really is, or not realizing the difference between a 98% eclipse and 100%. It made me so glad that we were able to realize what an opportunity we had and grab it. It was utterly amazing.

We listened to much of Patricia Wrede’s Lyra series on our way to and from the campground. It’s a fun series though I wish the narrator was a little more sensitive to context and emotion in the material. We arrived home to love from the cats and the first lemon cucumbers ready for picking, some cherry tomatoes and several squash including a pink banana. I love squash and am so excited about our squash plants this year but it may be quite a challenge to figure out how to store and eat all of it.

books, unschooling

hot summer days

The kids harvested a mystery squash, a few cherry tomatoes a pinstripe eggplant (variety chosen by Gavin) and a giant zucchini from the garden. We poked in the boxes and saw so many good things growing and changing.

Dragonflies are zooming over the yard every day around dusk.

Hummingbirds are frequenting our trumpet vine, butterfly bushes and feeder. They visit often when we are out on the deck eating.

We went to a water park with friends, another just the three of us.

We visited another friend’s house for crafting and play time.

Lilah went to gymnastics, working on handstands and vault.

We read sooo many good books.

We had a game night with the scout group at our house. Gavin played Magic the Gathering, Arena of the Planeswalkers. Lilah made up a Pokemon game with stuffed animals who evolved and made loud shrieking and growling noises. Chris and I played Dominion with another group. The deer came into the yard and were admired by our human visitors. It was a fun evening.

Gavin and I (and sometimes Lilah) have been practicing yoga together. He wants to gain strength and flexibility and he likes spending time with me that way. He asked tonight who the first people to do yoga were, so I think we’ll do some researching together to find out more about the beginnings of yoga.

art, unschooling

a few memorable moments from midsummer

We watched a quail family wandering nearby

and deer visiting

spotted tiny pumpkins and melon flowers, growing apples

picked apricots to give to Grandma

went to the library and came home with an armful each

played badminton

met friends at the waterpark

found this flower in the yard and wondered what kind it was

brought friends home for air-conditioned playtime

helped clean our old house to get it ready to sell

found that squirrels love apricots and honeydew tendrils, researched deterrents, found that predator urine may keep them away, or not

made cat memes


watched our grapes get bigger

saw a new kind of dragonfly

read so many books

went hiking with friends and on our own

made popsicles

tried blueberry lemonade

made a new Magic The Gathering deck with dad, then tested it

Gavin went to several teen/tween night games, where the kids organize things like capture the flag and go do it without adult supervision

went to Disneyland with Grandpa

visited the beach

went on a quick whale watching trip and saw a tangled humpback that the rescue team was working with and a non tangled humpback diving and breaching

celebrated Gavin’s 12th birthday with cupcakes, board games, Legos, and lasagna

sold a house

went to a friends play (The Three Musketeers)

went to a friends aerial acrobatics performance

(Lilah requested aerial lessons immediately upon hearing we were going)

found a new favorite graphic novel series (5 Worlds by Mark Siegel)

tried out some printmaking with a Tinkercrate set

built some new moving Lego machines and watched them wheel themselves around


Life is full of goodness.




books, unschooling

welcoming a new year

Today the kids watched Kulipari and Yo-Kai Watch,

played MineCraft while I patched some holes in walls at the other house in preparation for more painting over there.

We enjoyed lots of recently gifted wonderful things. Gavin built a robotics set,


we worked on a puzzle,

Lilah worked on her latch hook rug set, and her painted bowl kit,

I made deodorant with a bit of help from Lilah,

both kids started on new books: The Haunting of Falcon House by Eugene Yelchin and When the Sea Turned to Silver by Grace Lin.


Lilah made cards for all three cats wishing them a happy New Year,

we played Imhotep,


we played Ugly Sweaters,

we stepped outside and saw an owl on the post right outside the house! We took some pictures but it was dark and so they are not the best but it was so exciting! Maybe we’ll get another chance. Gavin remarked upon seeing the owl, “I love our house.” Me too.


We had a curry buffet for dinner and tried some new Indian and Nepali dishes followed by Chris reading Harry Potter and Eragon books at bedtime, cuddles of kids and parents and cats and I sang some songs to finish the night.






science project day at the park, exploding capsules, dry ice bubbles, chromatography and lots more


more pumpkin patch fun with friends (slide photos taken by my friend Teri)

celebrating Diwali at the Hindu temple with music, dancing, rangoli (chalk painting) and good food followed by fireworks


creating Halloween costumes: Minecraft black and orange cats

carving pumpkins with family

at the park


collecting leaves and punching leaf confetti with fancy hole punchersimg_3295

holding snakes and other reptiles with friends at a Halloween party

picking apples in our yard with a long armed picker


sorting jelly beans (thanks Gma and Gpa!)


night swinging


game playing (new favorite this time: Above And Below)


hike for me (with bonus elderberry picking & subsequent cordial and syrup making)

bookshelf assembly with Dad and decorating for Lilahimg_3343

silly dinnertime fun watching reflections in the window

supermoon through our skylight lit up the hallwayimg_3348

phone for the kids to share means lots of cat & owl photos and videos, and lots of texting

img_3351the texts are wonderful and fun, especially so if I am not in the room with them and get to decipher who is writing to me at any given time. So far, I’ve been right about which kid I’m texting with.



park time (I read some poems to the kids and then Gavin picked up the book for more)

civilization (Gavin is playing as China and Lilah as …)img_3354

an epic story being acted out, and then they realize they are being documented and give me a pose




home base

We’re between trips, trying to catch up with friends and relax between heading off out of state again.

We went to the Utah State Fair with friends. We saw bees and asked a bunch of questions about bees living in a big glass case. We saw butterflies, caterpillars and pupas of the monarch species.


We saw calves, tiny piglets, chicks just hatched and very small goats and were able to pet some of them.


The kids went on rides after rides with friends, thoroughly enjoying themselves until we bowed out, happy and tired.

We hiked up to Cecret Lake again, to spot salamanders and to enjoy the mountainous beauty of Utah.


It’s such a calm place except when the pikas start calling out in their strange squeaky voices. This one ran right out between us to perch above us and watch us.

We went to the park with friends to bike and play and hear from a man who keeps bees in his living room.

We drove up to the high mountain where it’s cool already to see lakes and smell pines. We were incredibly lucky that day… Lilah spotted a porcupine! We watched it clamber through wild raspberries and rocks to a hidden spot underneath several large boulders. She was so, so proud that she spotted the porcupine first! (I often am pointing out wildlife.) The kids started telling me about North American porcupines and African porcupines and how they differ. I think they learned about them on Wild Kratts, a favorite tv show of theirs.

We continued on our hike, passing meadows filled with colored leaves.


We hiked further than the kids have gone before to new lakes and enjoyed discovering new places and coming up with our own names for some of the spots we found as well as referring to the map we had on my phone.

On the way down we passed the hiding spot of the porcupine and it was still there, so we quietly, slowly observed and then continued on.

At the bottom of the descent there’s a lake filled with pond lilies so we went to look for salamanders which were all over at our last visit but we didn’t spot any this time. Lilah was asking why they are in some lakes but not others in the same area so we talked about possible reasons. I suspect elevation and depth of the lakes make a difference. And then, as Lilah is looking at the lilies, I spotted a beaver, diving, eating lily roots, twenty feet away at the edge of the water. We watched for a while and then headed home, happy.


We played some games. Here’s Gavin playing Ghosts with me.


We biked.

We visited the library.

We’ve been looking at new houses and thinking and dreaming about what we might find and how things might be the same or different in a different space. The kids are ready for their own rooms now and are very happily planning what their personal spaces will be like. After much looking and dreaming we fell in love with a house only a block away from where we are now. It has the yard, the deck and the privacy I’ve been dreaming of, the office Chris has been wishing for, the bedrooms the kids have been asking about and many more things to exclaim happily over. We made an offer and negotiated and are under contract for a house with an apple tree with hundreds of yummy apples to harvest. (Gavin has been asking for an apple tree in the yard for years now as it’s his favorite fruit.) We are even allowed to begin picking now!


We played at our nearby park.


We spotted a caterpillar in our garden and the next day it seemed to be getting ready to change form, hanging upside down.


It’s been good!



Del Norte

We drove over to the top of California to camp in the Redwoods, visit with Chris’ parents and visit the beach.


It was so nice to play in the sand, to toss driftwood (or logs!) in the water and watch pieces go out and come back in or sometimes just keep moving out.

The kids made their own game using driftwood, rocks and shell pieces and played for hours.

We collected shells, especially lots of sand dollars.

We caught up with Chris’ parents and had lots of fun with them on the beach, at the aquarium, at Trees of Mystery. It’s always so good to see them and the kids look forward to every visit we get.

We went down the the beach early to tide pool.

As we were about to leave the beach I looked out and spotted something with a fin so we watched for a while as several dolphins, lots of pelicans and other birds and a family of sea otters were catching some fish out in the water. Lilah was particularly excited to see dolphins!

We picked wild blackberries on the trail to the beach.

We saw sea birds, sea stars, anemones, mussels, barnacles, snails, limpets, hermit crabs having a fight over a shell, other crabs, fish, a tiny sea cucumber, chitons, a nudibranch and a gumboot chiton at the beach.

At the campsite in the redwoods we saw jays, ravens, other birds I didn’t recognize, chipmunks, mushrooms and banana slugs.

There are large stumps of old, old redwoods to climb on, in and around all through the campground.

It was wonderful. It’s so much fun to go exploring in types of places we don’t have near home (and types we do)!