hearts and brains

This week we’ve been making a lot of Valentines Day preparations.

We built a heart shaped box for Lilah and decorated it and decorated a MineCraft creeper box for Gavin. Lots of hot glue was used to make the heart box and we all helped paint different shades of green squares onto Gavin’s creeper box.

Gavin made Valentines to hand out to friends


and so did Lilah. She made fortune tellers, decorating each corner, and making up several fortunes to include:  you will laugh and will not stop, you will fall in love with a cat and a cat will fall in love with you, you will become a king/queen, you will turn into an icicle, you will transform into a cat, you will eat a lot of candy and not get sick, you will fly on a balloon, you will get eaten by a tiger.

We’ve been talking a lot about the government and elections and how things work, who some of the people in our local government are and some in our federal government and how they got to those roles. We all participated in a Utah March for Refugees to demonstrate our support of refugees and our local city’s stance on people coming here from other countries.


We went ice skating.

Lilah was so fascinated by sign making for protests/marches that she made her own sign a few weeks back. It reads, “Cat’s are better then dooog’s.”


We’ve been hanging out at home, playing, too.


We had a pirate themed play day at our house with friends including dressing up, a scavenger hunt, treasure finding and lots of other play. **Photo of all the kids dressed up by my friend, Teri.**

Gavin made his own hunt for the little ones after finishing up the one I prepared for the group and they were so happy.

We’ve been reading The Wolfling by Sterling North. The kids are really enjoying it.

We spotted cedar waxwings in our yard and watched them eating berries from the mountain ash and apple remains and juniper berries along with the robins and starlings.

The kids are rereading the Amulet series by Kazu Kibuishi on their own and together.

We went on a Valentine delivery run about town and the kids put Valentines for friends we don’t see often into their mailboxes.

We spotted bulb shoots coming up outside our kitchen windows and were very excited to see them and keep watching to find out what kinds they are and watch them grow!

We went to an aquarium with lots of opportunities to feed animals and the kids enjoyed it but I was not happy to see their really small enclosures and think of all the stress that being handled all day must cause the animals. We all decided after talking afterward not to go back. Feeding the parakeets was really fun though.

We’ve been watching the big hawk that sits on a post near our yard.


We went to a Valentines Day party with lots of unschooling friends and the kids loved roaming about in groups, especially enjoying the bouncy balls that Gavin’s Valentines had on them.

I’ve been painting sometimes in the evenings. I am so thrilled to be making and motivated by the challenge of trying a new medium: acrylic paint.

We roller skated and the kids played arcade games, trading in their tickets for a best friends forever necklace that splits into two necklaces. They put them on immediately. They really are best friends and I’m so grateful for their enjoyment of each other.


We went up to the Veteran’s Medical Center to give out Valentines to veterans. The kids were not comfortable giving them to people so I handed them out and then when we were done the kids covered the chairs in the waiting room with Valentines and candy.

We went to the park with friends and climbed trees and explored and hung on bars and talked.

The kids have been spending quite a bit of time playing Roblox and MineCraft on the computer together and separately but next to each other. Even when they playing different games they are chatting about things together.

We went to play at a friends’ house. The kids played all afternoon and the moms worked on craft projects. I’m trying needle felting for the first time ever. It’s pretty fun and I think the kids and I will try making some little critters together.




We spent hours today working on valentines day cards for an upcoming party.



Gavin is making Star Wars themed valentines and Lilah began making heart-shaped balloon cards (the picture above is the balloons drying in their 3D form) and then changed directions into making heart shaped crayons and putting them on cards. All of them came out looking wonderful and the kids enjoyed the process but it took a lot of time! Last week we did some hunting about to figure out what the kids wanted to do and then went shopping to get materials. This week we started making them and they each made fifty for the party so it was hours of printing, cutting, gluing, taping, breaking and melting crayon bits in heart molds and signing them all. Gavin got more comfortable using our paper cutter tool. Lilah was excited to try it too. We took paper off of old broken crayons and cut them and then melted them in the oven. Oh, and we added glitter. It was a beautiful, messy, fun project.

Gavin worked on his book, really enjoying reading through what he’d already written and making adjustments and then added another paragraph or two. His characters are in a tavern at the moment, trying to gather information.


Lilah read a new book in the Princess in Black series and very much enjoyed that.

Gavin worked on his Minecraft mansion and Lilah worked on taking care of her crew of animals in Minecraft on the computer.

We folded some laundry.


Gavin read part of a National Geographic magazine about National Parks.

I did some laundry and made a pot of beans, when I wasn’t helping with other projects.

It was a busy, good day.

Here are a few pictures from the past week or so:


Chris and the kids installing a new oven. Now we don’t have an hour or longer preheat time like we’ve been dealing with as our old oven slowly died. Woohoo!

The face Lilah made when I told her I’d acquired a kid sized snow shovelIMG_8369

Improvising a car and tram track with some wood and the furniture

Loving the cat


Playing at the museum market




Hearts and Flowers

There was more pop bead and K’nex play.

Gavin got out his Lego master builder set.

The hexbugs came out and were built and raced with and they went to Hogwarts.

We watched and listened to Weird Al Yankovich’s Word Crimes song/video about misuse of the English language.  I’m in complete agreement on the topic of saying, “I could care less.”  That’s bothered me for decades now.  The kids found it amusing and we got to talk a bit about some common mistakes that are made.

We checked out some pictures of sociable weaver nests – huge structures built by African birds who work together to build what is essentially a bird condo, with individual nests with separate openings are joined inside one large nest structure.  Fascinating!

“Webervogelnst Auoblodge” by Harald Süpfle – photo taken by Harald Süpfle. Licensed under CC BY-SA 2.5 via Wikimedia Commons


Gavin received a letter today from a friend he hasn’t seen in months.  He was so thrilled!  It asked two important questions: Did he want to be pen pals?  and Can we have a playdate?  The answer to both is of course, yes!  I’m quite excited to both rekindle the boys friendship and to encourage writing.  The best part of the pen pal suggestion is, both boys are slow, frustrated writers, so they will be a great match.

We strung up some of our paper hearts to decorate for Valentines Day.


The kids were happy to put them up and begin talking about what they’d like to do to celebrate.  I’m thinking maybe some cookies with pink and red colors, some hand made valentines and…?  We’ll have to do some more dreaming together.


After lunch we went to the Museum of Natural Curiosity.  We climbed and slid and played with drum machines and melody makers.  We spent quite a bit of time making drum loops and melody loops, trying faster and slower tempos, different sounds, different drums, patterns.  Here they are, creating music.

We were bandits and stole dollars from the bank and then gave them to some customers outside the bank.  We explored the magic shoppe and learned some new tricks.

We zip-lined and spun and explored the outdoor nature playground.

Then we headed home for a bit of a Harry Potter movie, dinner, reading, cuddles, songs and bed.

The morning brought more hex bug play.

We finished the craft flowers we started a while back.  The petals were painted in carefully formed wire pieces previously and today they wound them around a stem, added leaves and then wrapped green paper around to make a stem.  Gavin says his looks like a tulip.

I discovered a short video about how dogs smell and interpret the world that I shared with the kids.

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=p7fXa2Occ_U]


Lilah and I boiled water and stirred in (lots and lots!) of sugar to begin growing sugar crystals.


Gavin came and helped us decide when we’d added as much as could dissolve.  It’s amber colored because the sugar we used is non-whitened.


Gavin worked on some more Lego master builder pieces while Lilah helped by finding pieces for him.


In the afternoon we headed up to the local living history museum, This Is The Place.  It was pretty quiet, mostly closed for the winter, but we wandered the village, took a short train ride, enjoyed some animals.

On the train tour of the village, Gavin noticed that they had a small version of the blue locomotive named Jupiter, named and painted based on the famous locomotive from the joining of the railroads at Golden Spike site.  He also checked to see how the train cars were linked together and discovered it was different than the huge old link and pin that the replicas of the old trains at Promontory used.  There was a rope in the tree and they figured out quickly what that was for.  Gavin and I read a plaque with information on all the hand-cart companies that travelled across the country to Salt Lake City, when they left, arrived, how many there were, how much equipment they carried and how many survived the journey.

We visited the boot shop and the observatory and house that was inhabited by a squirrel.  That was amusing- going in the bedroom and seeing a squirrel who shot away into the kitchen and then out the door to escape us.

They also practiced their carriage driving skills, sans horse this time.