favorite winter things

We’ve been reading chapter books, graphic novels, picture books, novels, read alouds, and audiobooks. We just enjoyed The Girl Who Drank the Moon by Kelly Barnhill.

We’ve been practicing cursive for those who find it appealing (Lilah),

Puzzling a cat puzzle,

Going to see the local gymnastics team compete, enjoying waving pompoms to cheer them on,

Playing with friends,

Taking winter walks,

Practicing Aerial silks and hammock tricks,

Game playing: Blokus, Cobra Paw, Exploding Kittens, King of Tokyo, Power Grid, Sid Maier’s Beyond Earth to name a few,

Gift making and hunting,

Enjoying new treasures,

Cookie baking and decorating.

We made soap, which was a fun new project. We tried the melt and pour kind and it was a bit tricky but we figured out how to make molded soaps with smaller soap shapes inside, marbled soaps and we added some home-grown lavender and rose flowers to a few. The kids have requested to do this again.

There’s been Dungeons and Dragons playing,

Finger knitting and crocheting. Look at this beautiful scarf Lilah made for me!

We tried making ice lanterns and ice orbs for the first time to celebrate the winter solstice. Next year we’ll know how to do it better. The lanterns were gorgeous when lit up with candles and stuffed with natural things we collected from the yard and the park. The ice orbs didn’t quite freeze all the way through. The lanterns did freeze but we didn’t leave enough space to create thick enough bases so they were fragile.

We spent time working on the second chapter of Gavin’s book that he’s been writing on and off for a year or two now. Gavin got another big section finished and is happy with it. I’m happy to see that it’s ever so slowly becoming easier and he needs ever so slightly less support.

We’ve been making pom poms and cutting paper snowflakes.

We got to visit with family in Idaho and Washington. There were lovely conversations, meals, games played, explorations and hugs.

We visited a Jim Hensen exhibit and that has sparked a week or two of watching The Dark Crystal and The Muppet Show as a family.

The kids tried archery for the first time! They both enjoyed it.

Lilah and I’ve been painting,

And drawing and cutting and gluing and taping and coloring.


Gavin made a map for a skit he’s participating in, to use as a treasure map.

We went ice skating with friends, with much twirling and even some backward skating.

Life is good.



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




Creating and Enjoying

We’ve been visiting the art museum,

washing dishes,


making up new ways to play Carcassonne,


working on his book.


He started out writing his book in pencil and was doing really well but then began to slow down, as he became frustrated by mistakes and time and the constraints of paper. I asked if he’d like to type the rest and he was enthusiastically for it. We’ve been avoiding this as hand writing is one of those things that I believe is a handy thing to feel confident at and has slowly, slowly been getting easier as the trauma of trying to write in school fades. However, it was getting to the point in his book project where he wasn’t feeling good about the book project but obviously wanted to keep going. Problems like, he doesn’t like the mess it makes when he needs to erase and he decides, paragraphs in, that he wants to add character descriptions in the beginning and similarly change the tense from past to present all add up to he feels overwhelmed and unable to continue on paper. So, I typed up what he’d written, letter for letter, all mistakes included and he began fixing things and adding to it and the last two days I’ve heard, “Mama, can I work on my book?” and “I think I want to work on the next part.” Wow! What a difference that is from the way it was before, when he had an idea to write about and was so excited and started and then got so mad and frustrated that he would cry and yell and tell me he “couldn’t” and “was too scared”! I’m enjoying his excitement and perseverance and I’m enjoying feeling proud of myself for asking and answering the question, “How can I help him succeed?” I don’t care if he chooses to stop because he wants to, but I certainly do care if he chooses to stop because he doesn’t know how to or feel comfortable proceeding even though he wants to go on. I think we’ve turned a corner.

Yesterday, in the middle of writing he decided he needed to make a map of the area in his story and then used that in his writing. He asked what a good name for a capitol city would be and Lilah suggested Capitol Reef and he thought that sounded good so long as it was by water.

We also discussed how many words are on a page and how that can be different based on so many things, paper size, letter size, margins, etc. He’s still deciding how he wants to lay it out.

We’ve been drawing (cats, kittens, occasional porcupine or Invader Zim)


enjoying lots of time playing with friends,

going to see Art Dog, a play at our neighborhood theatre with my sister and parents,


playing music,

putting up the holiday tree,


swimming. The kids are getting better each time we go and they ask to go to the pool so they can “practice their swimming” and then they do! Gavin is getting better at moving his arms smoothly and kicking with his legs close together. Lilah is getting better at turning her head to breathe while she’s moving. It’s amazing to see what learning a new skill can look like when it’s accomplished all on their own interest, planning and work. They are really enjoying their progress as well as ownership of their process.

There was a twilight hike for me,


chocolate bark making (and subsequent eating),


pop up card making (she pulled out our pop up card book, pored over it, and then asked for materials and away she went),


cooking (red lentil dal), IMG_7630


working on rehanging our basement door (It’s finished now and I am relieved and proud!),


ice skating for the first time for the kids and the first time in at least ten years for me,

snowflake cutting,

knitting for me.

Our days have been full to the brim with goodness. There is so much to see, learn and share. We’re never lacking for things to do or ideas of things to pursue.


plural noun: bagels

We played with MadLibs and were all enjoying it very much until Gavin wrote something wrong twice and there wasn’t space left to fit it in and got really upset and decided to take some time on his own.  I am happy that he’s beginning to develop strategies to use to deal with situations he’s having difficulty with.

They built with Gavin’s physics set.


They built with Magformers.


We played at the park.

Lilah and I did some yoga.

We tried a new kind of flour in gluten free bagels: cassava (which is the same thing as tapioca except it includes the whole root).

Bagels have a lot of steps. When we put them in the simmering water with sugar, they dropped the bottom and then slowly floated up to the surface. Gavin tasted the water, realized it was sweet and asked if it was the same as what we put in the hummingbird feeder. I told him, “Yes, pretty much except that doesn’t have flour from bagels in it.”

The kids each sprinkled their own bagels with poppyseeds, then we put extra cornmeal and poppyseeds on some and left a few plain.


They came out a bit gummier than I’d like, but everyone else was pleased. I’ll try without psyllium husk powder next time. This time I added it in case they started coming apart in the water, like they did in our last bagel making attempt.

We watched Nausicaa of the Valley of the Wind together. It’s one of our favorite Hayao Miyazaki animated films. Lilah is very drawn to the main character who works to bring peace, understanding and respect of all living things about.

All four of us walked over the local school playground, kicked the soccer ball around and played on the playground.

The kids and Chris went to scouts and made kites and crowns while I had some time on my own. It was good for everybody.


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.



tea for three

There was Rat-a-Tat-Cat playing.


We listened to Harry Potter in the car.

We did some more building.

The kids spent some time enacting scenes with Hero Factory characters.  “Oh, you defeated the Dark Lord.  You’re doing really well!”

There were oatmeal fraction discussions.  “If we use 1/4 cup of oats and 2/4 cup  of water how much oatmeal do we have?”  “What’s another way of saying 2/4?  I’ll draw a picture of 2/4 of a circle on the whiteboard.”  “One half!”

We used tea pot (our first ever!) for a green tea party.   We were all excited to try out our tea pot and the kids enjoyed trying green tea and peppermint tea and talking about all kinds of tea.

There was a game of Monty Python Fluxx.  Then we watched Monty Python’s Ministry of Silly Walks sketch.

We visited the Hill Air Force Base museum.


The kids enjoyed looking at the planes but ultimately both decided they didn’t really enjoy the museum.  It wasn’t terribly kid friendly.  I’m actually quite excited about this as I think it’s a great opportunity to try something new and then decide, oh, that’s not really my favorite.


Now we know.  There were a few planes painted with teeth which entertained Lilah and Gavin really enjoyed looking at a huge plane engine which was displayed with the ability to watch the gears turn inside.


Unbeknownst to me, Lilah had brought her stuffed animal with her from the car (where I usually ask that they stay) and we lost it in a network of huge warehouses two separate times.  Luckily we found it both times but it was frustrating and both of us need to make sure the animals stay in the car before we head out on an adventure.

The kids helped vacuum the house (it’s on our list of chores they can choose to do and get paid for) by choice.  We took the glass over to the recycling center in the park and then collected sticks and bark to build a fairy house as a birthday present for a friend.

The kids each painted a cork as a fairy and then we hot-glued some ribbon as wings on the back.


Then we started building the house, clipping sticks to the right size and hot-gluing those in a log-cabin style for the fairy house, finishing with an open bark door and bark roof and pinecone chimney.

We stopped for a bit to watch as firemen arrived to put out a small fire nearby.  We got to see the ladder on the truck in use as well as their long hoses.

Lilah had a friend we haven’t connected with since the spring over.  It was so good for them to have time to play!  They explored the house, and then got out the marble blocks.  It’s always fun for me to see what different combinations of kids gravitate toward.

At the same time Gavin had playtime with his friend,and now pen pal, at their house.  He tells me they built a temple with legos, jumped on the trampolines, and ate noodles.

The girls dressed up as villains, made a haunted house, played dead, drew on the whiteboard, made a slide with the bean bag and gymnastics mat.  And giggled A LOT.

After both play dates had ended, we finished the roof of the fairy house, cuddled, read The Wizard of Oz and the Ranger’s Apprentice and then bed.




an order of coffee

Today there was Wild Kratts (a television show about animals) watching for both kids first thing.

After breakfast they played with their Hero Factory pieces, building characters and then making stories together.

Lilah worked on writing a letter to a friend and coloring a picture for her.

Gavin and I went on a walk and played Ingress.  Gavin felt really excited to be out and about, just the two of us.  I need to make that happen more frequently.

They had an disagreement over something and Lilah went into the bedroom feeling bad.  I followed her in and cuddled with her and then I asked her if she’d like to read to me.  She said yes and Gavin wandered in soon so she read a library book, an Elephant and Piggie story, to us.


Lilah and I picked up a friend and they painted and played while Gavin and I had a game of Tokaido.

Then all three played with play dough.  Lilah has very much been taking advantage of having easier access to the art supplies already, even just one day after setting it up.  Woohoo!  They had a restaurant where they took my and Chris’ orders and then made the food and brought it over to us.  The coffee was a little purple and a bit solid (wink), but it was lovely.

Before bed I read another chapter of Wizard of Oz (Lilah’s choice) and Chris read another chapter of Sorcerer of the North in the Ranger’s Apprentice series by John Flanagan (Gavin’s choice) to the kids.


the modern era (or this week)

The kids played My Little Pony Life.

Lilah read a whole stack of Elephant and Piggie books under an umbrella.  Because it’s cozy, I think.


We made designs out of pipe cleaners and then mixed up some borax solution to grow crystals on our ornaments.

The borax crystals are especially enjoyable because they grow in mere hours and are ready to take out the same day or at latest the next day.

The kids often ask about how healing happens so I found this video and shared it with them.


We picked up a friend and the kids played all afternoon with playmobil castles and people and animals.

On our way out to the car today, Lilah kissed our tree.  She said, “I love you, Whomping Willow.”  It’s Harry Potter all the time, around here.  And it’s such fun!

There was a hike up by Jeremy Ranch, muddy and snowy and beautiful.

Gavin and I played No Stress Chess.  The kids played alone as well.


Lilah and I made some oatmeal chocolate cranberry cookies, changing our old vegan but not gluten free to vegan and gluten free.  Yummy!

We watched the first bit of the 6th Harry Potter movie, as well as listening to the 4th book on our drives around town.

In the evening Chris took the kids to scouts for their service project meeting and I stayed home.  Alone.  It was good.  I’d been feeling itchy to have some time with my own thoughts.

When they got back we read some more Wizard of Oz in bed.

There was letter writing and card making.  The kids enjoyed using some new stationery with owls on it.

Many games of Carcassonne were played, some with new rules negotiated.

We visited the natural history museum to see a new Extreme Mammals exhibit.  There were some fun things to look at but mostly it was information to read.  We saw what baleen look like, which was great because we were just talking about that a week or two back.  We saw an animal with lower teeth that looked and functioned like a shovel.

Gavin took a special interest this visit in reading all of the signposts leading into the museum, each one focusing on one era… jurassic, triassic, etc.  We decided that the furthest ones from the museum are longer ago and then the closer ones are less long ago until the one right outside the entrance is the current time, Holocene, if I remember correctly.

Lilah drew this.  It’s she and I as mermaids.   She is wearing a purple sweater dress.



Stories and Castles

There was marble maze building.  Castles, this time.  There was lots of negotiation for different colored pieces and special pieces.  “Why do you really need it?”  “I just do.  For going down to the bottom the faster way.”  “I deserve it.”  I don’t think we use that word much around here and I’m guessing they don’t have a good grasp of it’s meaning.  We should explore that.


I invited the kids to write stories with me today as it’s been awhile since we’ve done any writing aside from notes and the occasional list.  Lilah chose to use one of our And Then… story starter cards.

Gavin chose to write a collaborative story with me, each of us writing a sentence and passing it to the other.

I was impressed that we were able to enjoy the process for the most part.  Even though we don’t do a lot of writing and it’s difficult for both kids, it’s getting easier as we relax about it.  Lilah gets frustrated because she doesn’t know how to spell things.  Gavin gets frustrated because he has trouble thinking at the speed and in the patterns necessary for writing.  Today we wrote and it was okay and sometimes even fun.  I’m calling that a win.

There was more marble maze building and lego building and a game of Magic the Gathering.  Both kids decided to try shuffling for the first time.

I read the first three chapters of The Wizard Of Oz to the kids.

Lilah and I headed to her gymnastics class and Gavin played Magic the Gathering, testing out a new deck he built with Dad.

After that we hurried through dinner and then headed up the mountains to the Ice Castles in Midway, Utah.


This is the last night they are open as it’s been unseasonably warm and the ice is melting.  It was beautiful and though the kids were tired they had a wonderful time exploring with us and my sister and my parents.  They both said their favorite part was going down the ice slide.  Lilah and I got our pants wet sitting on this ice thrown with ice triangle decorations behind our heads.




There was computer play for Gavin and part of a Garfield movie for Lilah before the three of us baked muffins for breakfast.

We read a chapter of Wise Child.  This book has some great issues to explore for us at 9 and 6, like being scared of differences in other people, peer pressure, fear of being alone, improving skills through practice and needing to do things you don’t like.

There was lego play and reading some newly borrowed library books.


We did more Spanish on Duolingo and Mindsnacks Spanish numbers.

I brought out our And Then… story starters and we each chose a story starter, then wrote the next part.  The story starters are a box of beginnings of stories, each with a charming picture on it.  It’s a fun way of inviting the kids to write imaginatively.  Lilah dictated her story to me and I wrote it out for her and then she illustrated it.  Gavin wrote his out and then illustrated.  We’ve found that lined paper makes a huge difference in his confidence and quality of writing as he gets so easily frustrated and overwhelmed when trying to write.  After we finished we each read our story aloud and enjoyed them.

There were handstands and arabesques and hula hooping.


Lilah decided she was tired and asked me to read her a book and then she lay down down for a bit.  The fact that she recognized her need and acted on it without worrying about missing something makes me happy.

I wrote out a scavenger hunt for the kids to do around the house full of things like something blue, something fuzzy, something that smells good, something funny to do while I did yoga.

Gavin made map hunts for Lilah and I to decode.


Lilah and I headed out to a Spiral Scouts meeting and Gavin and Dad headed to his soccer game to finish off our day.