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.




Computer play time was followed by lego play time in the morning.


While I cleaned up in the kitchen they used the magnetic poetry words, letter magnets and various other magnets on the fridge to tell some stories together.


In the afternoon, we went out to our garden to get it ready for winter.  I asked the kids to help since I have a sore tailbone and it’s really too much for me to do the repetitive bending that’s needed to pull out the dead plants and cages and markers.  I was surprised by how willing they were (after I explained I needed help) and though they did things in their own way instead the way I would have done it, they did what was needed and enjoyed it.  I am very grateful they are willing and able helpers and I am glad to give them opportunities to help with important tasks in our lives.

After that was done we pulled up our crop of carrots together.  They loved seeing all the different sizes and shapes and we’ll have some yummy carrots and carrot greens to eat.

We cleaned ourselves and the carrots up and then we did some Spanish together, lessons and then games.

Lilah and I went outside to try the helicopter seeds from pinecones in the breeze.  She tossed them up in handfuls and watched them fly.  It was beautiful fun!

Chris showed the kids a short film he made in college and then they talked about how he made it and what goes into making a movie.   There was a lot of excitement about the idea of making our own movies, writing scripts, filming…  Sounds like a great project for us!



There was computer play time and lots of Lego play time.

We read some poems about weather together, from a collection of many poets, all about weather.  The kids kept asking for more.  This was one of my favorites: I’ll Tell You How The Sun Rose by Emily Dickinson.


We also looked through and talked about the book A Street Through Time by Anne Millard which illustrates a street (piece of land) in different time periods, explaining some of the differences.  It was fascinating!  Gavin especially liked the Roman town page.  We were all very interested in the different boats and how they changed.  Lilah was interested in the different kinds of shops in different time periods and couldn’t quite get her head around the idea of no shops in the very earliest time period shown.

We went to the library to return books and choose new ones.  They enjoyed the ice cavern reading room on this visit.  On the way home, Gavin read three or four new books and Lilah read one or two.


Lilah and I picked up her friend for a playdate.  They were very excited since it had been about two weeks since they last saw each other.  There was Lego playing and dressing up as ninjas, flamingos, Green Lantern and just in fancy dresses.



The kids watched the storm outside this morning, with lots of lightning and thunder.

After breakfast they played with tangram blocks. They are some of my favorite things to while away a morning with.

So I played too! I made a self-portrait and then got to share that vocabulary concept with the kids when Lilah asked “What is a self-portrait?”


They thought it was silly and they played with what I’d made, making the mouth open and giving it a tongue.


The car tracks were brought out and built.IMG_0836

We had a three-way game of Magic the Gathering.

Someone unearthed an old fortune teller, so then we worked at making some new origami fortune tellers with new fortunes. “You get a diamond.” “You get a gem.” “You get to go to work.”  (Notice the positive language there?!)  “You find a gigantic seed.” “You have to wear your pajamas all day.”  It was fun to see what they came up with!

After lunch we headed to the planetarium where we played with perpetual motion displays, played with their huge new infrared monitor, looked at cloud forming, played with static electricity and a display showing how magnetism effects orbits.

We came home and watched a fascinating video of bowling balls moving in phase.

There was computer play.  And then gymnastics for Lilah and I and Civilization for Gavin and Dad.


After dinner we read a handful of Gwendolyn Brooks poems.

to the Diaspora

you did not know you were Afrika

When you set out for Afrika
you did not know you were going.
you did not know you were Afrika.
You did not know the Black continent
that had to be reached
was you.

I could not have told you then that some sun
would come,
somewhere over the road,
would come evoking the diamonds
of you, the Black continent–
somewhere over the road.
You would not have believed my mouth.

When I told you, meeting you somewhere close
to the heat and youth of the road,
liking my loyalty, liking belief,
you smiled and you thanked me but very little believed me.

Here is some sun. Some.
Now off into the places rough to reach.
Though dry, though drowsy, all unwillingly a-wobble,
into the dissonant and dangerous crescendo.
Your work, that was done, to be done to be done to be done.
Gwendolyn Brooks