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




summery week

We went up to play at Red Butte Garden.


After really enjoying some picture books we checked out of the library with a raven character who says, “Nevermore”, I read Edgar Allan Poe’s poem The Raven to the kids.  Here’s the first stanza with the raven quoted:

Then this ebony bird beguiling my sad fancy into smiling,
By the grave and stern decorum of the countenance it wore,
“Though thy crest be shorn and shaven, thou,” I said, “art sure no craven,
Ghastly grim and ancient Raven wandering from the Nightly shore—
Tell me what thy lordly name is on the Night’s Plutonian shore!”
Quoth the Raven “Nevermore.”

They enjoyed it, though I’m sure there was a lot of they didn’t grasp.  I don’t worry about that very much as long as I think (or find out) that they can enjoy things on some level, if there is vocabulary or concepts too advanced for them, all the better to be exposed now.  I’m sure they can catch things I can’t because my brain is too busy with the fancy vocabulary and tricky abstract concepts.  It was fun for them to know that the character in the picture books came from that poem.

Gavin and I played Ticket To Ride and he won, after deciding to change strategies toward the end of the game.  He even built the longest route!


We baked double chocolate muffins.


Lilah painted over her glue resist design.  And added salt.

They read Fox In Sox together.



Lilah worked on walking backward on the beam (among many other things) at her gymnastics class.


At the park, they climbed trees.  This is happening all the time recently and it’s new.  I’m not sure why they never had much interest before but they sure do now and I’m so glad.

We tried out our new sun umbrella (necessary for all those summer play times at parks with no shade) and the kids staked it down.


The kids vacuumed the car.

We visited a recycling center and took a tour and brought some recycling items with us.  I learned a lot about how hard it is for many things to be recycled.  The take away was compost, don’t use plastic bags, and don’t use styrofoam.  We’re already fairly aware of materials we use and trying to use less and recycle/re-use more but we can improve here and there.

We went geocaching, with friends this time and had fun but didn’t find the cache.  We thought we found it once and were very excited but it wasn’t the cache.


I’m going to have to go back myself and look again if the kids don’t want to.  Maybe I will scout out some caches ahead of time to bring the kids and our friends to so we have better luck, at least until we know what we’re doing more.  A GPS unit other than my phone might help too.

A friend came over and they made up stories with lego characters and made designs with pop beads.

We took a weekend trip to Bear Lake.


Chris and the kids haven’t been before and it’s been years since I was there.  It was beautiful and fun, though the water was pretty cold beyond the sand bar it was very warm on the shallow sand bar protected side.  There were lots of tiny snail shells and clam shells, pelicans and killdeer, other waterbirds I couldn’t name.

Maybe we’ll make another trip there later in the season.  As Chris said, it’s not nearly as satisfying as the ocean, but it’s pretty enjoyable anyway.  We talked a lot about how lakes and oceans are different, especially tides and waves and animals, because the kids were really fascinated on the way there trying to picture Bear Lake when they have most beach experience in California.

We have a trip to the ocean planned later in the year though.  I can’t stand the idea of not visiting the ocean at least once and the kids apparently feel the same as they’ve already begun asking over and over to go.


locations & destinations

We went geocaching for the first time!


It was a learning process, and a fun one.  We downloaded an app on my phone that allowed us to look for caches nearby and then we headed up to the Capital grounds where we used the compass and map on my phone to move toward the cache until we were in the area.  Then we had to use our eyes to find its hiding spot. We found two caches and tried but didn’t find a third.  I think I need to do more research before heading out and we need to choose carefully.  We’re hoping to do this with another family over the summer.

We played on the playground with friends before heading back here for more play, goodbyes and then soccer for Gavin and Broken Age playing for Lilah.

Broken Age is an amazing narrative computer game where you solve puzzles of various kinds and difficulties. Gavin has been playing it with his dad when Lilah does gymnastics and recently Lilah requested to play too so we’ve started another game, she and I.

Gavin had soccer games and practice.

They played Small World.

We visited the Wild West playground which is a really fun set up with local places of significance represented in a unique playground.  When they got hot and tired we had a picnic lunch in the shade and I read a few pages of Castle in the Air before they ran off to play some more.

We happened upon an article about the old Wasatch Warm Springs Bath House history, which is now abandoned and in our local park so we read about it and looked at some old photos.

The kids built various things out of K’Nex.   It’s fun to watch the complexity of their creations grow along with their building and planning skills.

We spread mulch over our vegetable garden.  We need a bit more but it’s a good start.  We haven’t tried mulch before this so it will be interesting to see how it does.  I think I spotted a pumpkin sprout and possibly a dumpling squash as well this morning.  Lilah was thrilled that there was a pink strawberry on one of the plants.  Today it was ripe enough to pick and eat! It’s such fun to watch the changes and help nurture the plants along and then enjoy the harvesting and feasting.

We puzzled.


We read more of Castle in the Air.  It’s a delight.

We met with other unschoolers at a new to us park in Ogden called Ogden High Adventure park.  It was full of ropes play, spinning things and other challenging equipment, plus there’s a river flowing right behind it.  What a fun park!  I’m going to play more on it next time too!

Lilah counted up the money she’s earned (with my help) from doing chores and then when we went to Target, she bought herself a Lego Hero Factory set.


We visited the aquarium.  It had been quite a while so that was fun.  Gavin particularly likes the river otters and Lilah enjoyed seeing the caiman alligators.  I always like the cuttlefish and octopus especially.  The penguins were all nesting and we watched them carefully picking up small stones and carrying them to their nests and arranging them while their partners lay on the top of the rock nests.

We met up in the canyon with other unschoolers for “Forest School”, which was a bunch of families meeting in a forest meadow and exploring and we scouted a creek and found bones and climbed rocks and hauled a rusty car hood over to make a bridge.

And in between all of this, reading and story making and researching and experimenting and hula hooping and painting and giggling and cuddling and cleaning and negotiating.  It’s been good.


Late February

Enjoying the park and the sun.  Spinning is such fun.


Harry Potter – listening to the books in the car, making it their own with their legos, trains, etc., watching part of the 6th movie.

Spanish game playing.



Train track building.


Watching several TedEd videos.  Learned about Hatshepsut (a female Egyptian pharoah), simple levers and bats.

Visiting the Museum of Natural Curiosity, exploring the maze, pushing building posts into the ground, spinning.


Dressing up and acting in winter scenes.  You can see what they are doing in the room and then how they are projected onto the film clip on the screen.  They also spent a lot of time making stop motion animation films with astronauts and octopi.  The animation room is a favorite.

More Spanish game playing.  Enjoying the quests and practicing numbers from twenties through one hundred, simple conversational phrases.

Admiring the city at night from the sky bridge downtown.


Spiral Scouts, learning songs and playing games.

Rainbow loom creating; trying a new design, getting frustrated, persevering.

Trying out some chinese jump ropes.

Writing a letter. (It was an excruciating proposition, but after empathizing and cuddling, the process and result were alright.  I’ll take it.)


Planting seeds inside and making labels.  “How do you spell cucumber?”


Roller skating.


Reading Dr. Seuss in an impromptu read-a-thon.  (It was snowing huge flakes and I mentioned oobleck.  A few minutes later, Lilah had located Bartholomew and the Oobleck.  Then Gavin pulled out a few other Dr. Suess books.)

Hula hooping.



Working on cards for Grandpa.




There was Animal Jam playing.

There was lego Hero Factory building and rebuilding.


There was knitting.


We went to the Tracy Aviary and saw lots of birds as well as things to climb on and spin and read.


There were pelicans having fish.

And flamingos in swirling white waters.


We climbed giant bones.


We measured our wingspans.

And  much more.


After we finished exploring the aviary, we had a snack in the car and decided to play at the playground in the park surrounding the aviary.  There was climbing and hide and seek and sliding and musical exploration.


After we came home the kids watched The Triplets of Belleville, a French film.  Lilah did some more knitting and Gavin helped with one row.

Then the kids decided to decorate our tree before dinner and cuddles and Julie of the Wolves and singing and sleeping followed.





There was Animal Jam on the computer together.  Then more lego Hero Factory play.

We visited Gilgal Gardens, a local historic outdoor sculpture garden depicting LDS founders.


It’s quite strange and marvelous.  I captured some portals in Ingress while we explored.

Once we got home Gavin and I baked snickerdoodles which he’s been asking about for days while Lilah finally got started on knitting on her circular knitting loom which she’s been wanting to do for months and months.

She needed quite a bit of help to begin and support along the way while dealing with accidents and whatnot but she spent at least an hour straight working on it and has an inch or so of a lovely purple hat to show for it.



Gavin arranged the word and letter magnets on the fridge in a visual poem.


Gavin read a few pages of George’s Marvelous Medicine by Roald Dahl to us while Lilah continued to knit.


I amused the three of us by putting Lilah’s sunglasses on our pug.


Then we adventured to the park to enjoy the last of the light and the kids played at the playground and hid behind trees.

Our Spiral Scouts holiday party was next.  We had some great time with friends capped by a game of Settlers of Catan, which Gavin is always jumping out of his skin to play with our friend who is equally obsessed.



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…



There was lots of play with hexbugs this morning as well as quite a few conflicts between the kids.  Both kids wanted to play with the same bug.  Both kids wanted to use the same track piece for different things.  I had to step in and ask them to resolve things when it got too heated.  I reminded them that words are our best tools for resolving differences and that unless they resolve things not only can they not continue their game but also they would both continue to feel badly.  I asked them to help solve things.  Eventually they came up with a lovely compromise and proceeded with their game happily.

They have been more conflicts lately and  I think the cold weather keeping us indoors has been hard on all of us.

We read some library books together and played Chess and Rat-A-Tat-Cat.  Gavin read some Brambly Hedge stories to himself.


A friend came over to play with Lilah and Gavin went to his friends house to play.  It was wonderful here and from what Gavin’s told me, wonderful there too.  There was playground building, singing, stuffed animal playing, math fact sharing, a walk to the park and swinging here. Then Gavin was dropped off, Lilah’s friend was picked up and it was just the three of us at the park enjoying swinging, hula hooping, hoop rolling and the sunshine.

When we got home we made some pumpkin pies together for Thanksgiving tomorrow.

While the pies baked, we watched Nausicaa of the Valley of the Wind together, a Hiyao Miyazaki animated film with a beautiful story about peace being stronger than force. It features a princess who I can actually say I adore because she works harder than anyone in her village, she advocates for others, she is not invested in her appearance, there is not one mention of her marrying in the entire film nor is she ever in need of rescuing, in fact, she is often rescuing others.  Hurrah!  Both kids really enjoyed it and Gavin proclaimed it one of his favorites even though it features a female main character.

It was a cozy evening before the holiday.



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.