unschooling

Halloweenish

We had a lovely Halloween! We all dressed up as characters from Harry Potter. I was Luna Lovegood. Chris was Xenophilius Lovegood. Lilah was Hedwig (the owl) and Gavin was either Fred or George Weasley, depending on the minute you asked him. The kids trick or treated and then came back to Grandma and Grandpa’s to share their spoils with Grandma.

We celebrated Chris’ birthday with a first visit to a Harry Potter themed escape room with my sister and parents. We had to solve clues to find six horcruxes hidden in the space, behind locks or secret compartments that open only when you’ve gotten the riddles right. We had an hour to complete it and we just made it with less than a minute to spare. It was really fun! The kids loved it and helped significantly and it was not scary like some of the other escape rooms are. There were lots of different kinds of puzzles involved so we all got to work together. I sense a new favorite pastime coming on.

Last week we drove up to Portland for Chris to go to a conference and to hang out with friends who recently moved there. We visited OMSI where we did some science exploration and the Japanese Gardens and our friends. We got to see our friends’ new place and the Gardens were lovely with fall colors.

We bought a book that Gavin was interested in to bring up to Portland (a four day trip this time) and I briefly thought about getting the next one in the series too but as they are hundreds of page novels, I thought he’d be fine with the one. Well, I was wrong! He finished that in two days and so we went on a search for the next one on our trip. His reading speed has really increased lately! I love that he enjoys reading though robotic dragons and steampunk stories aren’t my cup of tea. I love hearing him tell me all about them though!

I’ve been slowly taking plants out of the garden as it gets too cold for veggies. We still had squash, tomatoes, tomatillos and peppers out there last week though. I brought in a bunch of semi ripe tomatoes to ripen inside.

Yesterday we enjoyed watching a huge hawk just a hundred yards up the hill behind our house, sitting in a big tree. Magpies kept trying to bother it, get it to move but it was happy surveying the autumn grass and emptying trees. Later we spotted another on a utility pole nearby as well. There seems to be one who likes to spend many an hour nearby and it’s lovely to watch it sitting or soaring.

Lilah has been writing songs. She has a notebook where she writes down lyrics and then I hear her early in the morning or late evenings in her room singing and then talking to herself about the next parts. She also has been enjoying playing on our keyboard.

 

 

 

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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.

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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.

 

 

 

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unschooling

around home

Here are a few moments from our week:

Gavin searched for new computer games to play. He’s interested in other things like Plants vs. Zombies or MineCraft. He loves to play Civilization so maybe we’ll look for games in that vein.

We tried a new recipe for peanut butter chocolate bars few days ago. It’s not quite what we hoped for so we tried another today. It was the right taste but a little too gooey, so next time we’ll try it with more crushed rice crispy cereal in it.

Lilah put the harness on Luna and then on Star. Neither of them liked it much. She read more of her book about clicker training cats.

We walked to the library in the rain to return a handful of books and check out several new armfuls of books plus a dvd called The Secret Lives of Cats.

A deer left a gift in our backyard, an antler was sitting by the rose bush today. We did a bit of research and found it’s shedding season, when the deer lose their antlers for the year and begin to grow new ones.

We all watched a video of a bald eagle chick hatching.

We made sushi and the kids did a ninja course with friends.

Chris read Neil Gaiman’s Fortunately the Milk to the kids.

We’ve been working on getting the garden area ready for raised boxes by digging and tilling and pulling out rocks, boulders and so much glass. Here’s some of the various “buried treasure” we’ve unearthed:

I did a huge amount of research about covers to keep the deer out of our raised garden beds. Also, we ordered SO MUCH DIRT to fill our new boxes. The kids were amazed dirt costs so much.

We made brownies and played Race For the Galaxy.

Gavin and his friends swapped MineCraft videos to watch, places to download mods and ideas for making their own character skins.

We played outside with cut bamboo.

We watched the deer visit, rest and munch in the yard.

Life is sweet.

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unschooling

Here to There

“From there to here, from here to there, funny things are everywhere.” -Dr. Suess

We’ve been here and there, near and far lately, with trips to Dinosaur National Monument, trips to the park around the corner, lost of museum play, a birthday and another trip to the beach in California coming right up.

Gavin finished his summer reading challenge and picked out a book. He was very pleased.  Lilah’s read three times the number of books, at least, but is still working on writing down ten.

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We camped near Dinosaur National Monument at Steinaker reservoir with friends and

Gavin started his very own fire

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we roasted marshmallows over Gavin’s fire

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we swam in the lake

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walked right up to amazing petroglyphs

we started boondoggle keychains

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the kids prepared kebabs for dinner

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there were dinosaur bones up close at the quarry and

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both kids earned their Dinosaur Monument junior ranger badges after learning about dinosaurs and then swearing in with a park ranger.

I’ve been working on a long overdue project at home: a big mandala on our wall.  I painted a background for it, a large blue circle with drips underneath, 4 or 5 years ago but never got around to working on the mandala.  It’s been more fun with kids help anyway! (They would have been too young to help much at all when I made the background.)  It’s still not finished but here’s some of the progress.  I drew it by hand and then painted it with help here and there from the kids.  It feels so good to be doing it finally and I’m really enjoying the process and the progress!

Lilah painted another on her own.

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We did some more geocaching with friends and found three caches in about an hour.

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It was really exciting, the mapping, the hunting, the eventual victorious finding and the recording of our names in the cache log.

 

There were games, like Mine Shift.

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Computer coding games for kids have been popular at our house lately.  Chris has been looking into more options for them to keep exploring. This one involves code writing to make designs which they print out and admire.

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Lemon cucumbers and cherry tomatoes are ripe in the garden.

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From there to here, from here to there, beautiful learning is everywhere.

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unschooling

planting & growing

This week, we planted pumpkins, butternut squash and rainbow swiss chard seeds in the garden and admired our rapidly sprouting carrots and less rapidly sprouting but still growing quite nicely kale.

We met up with the local unschoolers again, played hard, and afterward decided to invest in foam swords so we don’t constantly need to borrow them, since they are an essential play item when groups of boys of all ages get together and play outdoors.  Chris and I have been having long conversations about how we deal with toy weapons and weapon play in our household and I think our approach is shifting.  I’ll write more on that soon.

On a Memorial Day adventure with dad the kids noticed some horsetail by the stream, recognizing it from Lilah’s Wildcraft game and told us about its healing properties.  (It’s good for headaches, low energy, etc.)

We went to the Museum of Natural Curiosity where the kids favorites were the bank where there is play money, a teller window complete with vacuum shoot and a back alley where robbers are constantly in action, and the outside play area where they love the cave and spend long periods howling like animals inside the caverns.

We hiked up by Jeremy Ranch, saw wildflowers, deer tracks and droppings, lots of mushrooms and then got rained on and hailed on and headed back down quickly, though not quickly enough to avoid a thorough soaking.

We swam again, working on going underwater, swimming strokes and kicking and propelling ourselves through the water.  Lilah discovered she could somersault in the water and was quite pleased.

All four of us went up to Silver Lake and enjoyed walking on the boardwalk, climbing rocks, spotting a beaver? muskrat? otter?, watching ducks and squirrels and butterflies and maneuvering through areas with snow and areas with spring run-off streams rearranging the landscape.  We spotted a dark colored butterfly with yellow edges on its wings and Gavin wanted to know what kind it was so we looked it up at home and decided it was probably a mourning cloak butterfly.

On all of our drives lately we’ve been listening to the first book in the Brotherband Chronicles: The Outcasts, by John Flanagan.

In between there was lots of building, imagining, reading.  Bedtime and othertime requested stories lately are The Ranger’s Apprentice series (also by John Flanagan) and Castle in the Air by Dianna Wynne Jones. I think Castle in the Air may be one of the first stories the kids have encountered with a genie (and a magic carpet) in it, and they are enthralled.

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