Friday, March 25, 2011


For the past month we've been hatching butterflies. We bought the Butterfly Habitat, and sent away for the caterpillars. They came as tiny little circles in a small container. They grew and grew and grew. And then eventually they climbed to the top of their container and became chrysalises. Four of our eggs survived to become caterpillars.

Once they were stable in their cocoons, we moved them into their butterfly habitat. There they have sat, pinned to the side of the habitat for a week and a half. Until today, when we were out shopping, we became butterfly parents. We laid a slice of orange in the bottom for her to feed off of, as the insect company suggested, Tomorrow we will buy some fresh flowers that we can drip sugar water onto for the butterflies to feed on after they all emerge.

We will keep them until it is warm enough to release them, and then we will let them go.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

We went to the Fire Station!

Last Friday, the Unschoolers went to visit the fire station in Sugarhouse, which is an older cool neighborhood in Salt Lake. It was pretty awesome. The firefighters of Salt Lake Fire Engine #3 were amazing. They showed the kids everything on the fire truck, talked some about fire safety, and even let them try on a firefighters outfit. The kids were in heaven. Note Wednesday's look of absolute excitement as she "drove" the truck.

We got to peek in all of the compartments of the fire truck. Who knew they carried that much stuff?

Everyone got to climb around both compartments of the fire truck, and we got to meet the people who ride on the truck, the man who drives it, as well as the firefighters who go into the blaze. Here our friend, Olivia, shows off her driving prowess.

The firefighters showed us what the uniform looks like when it's on. All of those super heavy clothes protect him from the fire, and he can get them on in less than a minute!

We all agreed that the oxygen mask made him sound like Darth Vader, but now none of us will be scared of the firefighter if we see or hear him coming to help us in a fire.

All the kids got plastic fire helmets to wear and take with them, but we also got to try on the actual helmet, which made everyone feel like a bobble head doll, it was so heavy.

Even Ms. Jennifer gave it a try.

The coat could have been an entire tent for Wednesday, and she fell over trying on the pants and boots. :)

Angus gave the coat a whirl.

The firefighters even sent a message over the intercom system welcoming us, and showing us what an alert would sound like in the event of an actual fire. At the end we all got coloring books and pencils. It was an awesome field trip. A huge thank you goes out to the awesome guys at Engine #3.

When it was over, the weather was so nice, we went to the park across the street to play. Almost as soon as we got there, we heard the sirens, and the firetruck headed out on a call. We had some good timing for our fieldtrip!

Zhara, Olivia, and Sophie enjoyed watching the ducks at the pond.

Wednesday and Mary were more interested in throwing dirt clods in the water. The poor ducks thought they were going to get fed bread, but no such luck from these girls.

As we walked around to play at the play structure, the fire engine came back, and we got to watch it park back at the fire station. Overall, an amazing day!

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Make a Wish

For years my children have wanted a wishing well. They've asked for it from Santa. They've wished for a wishing well. They've tried to talk me into buying one of those yard wishing wells at the garden center. So how happy were they when the Pooka Pages came out with their Ostara issue two days ago and there was an entire section on wishing wells, including directions for making your own? Over the moon.

First, may I just say how much we love the Pooka pages. She has so many fun seasonal crafts and stories. It's great. Especially if you are a pagan family. There was a rebus story, in fact, in there that Winnie loved. It's about Pooka the cat and his adventures. We read it twice and she was able to "read" many of the pictures herself.

Well, enough of the Pooka love, on to the wishing well construction.

As you can see from this picture, there are step-by-step directions in the Pooka Pages issue. First we took some of the sticks we had left over from our wand project from Imbolc. We used some cord to make cross pieces for the roof.

Then we glued the sticks to the side of an old (thoroughly-washed) tall sour cream container. She suggested using a clean tin can, which I think would work nicely, as well.

Next we took some polished stones from the craft store that we had left over from another project, and hot-glued them to the sour cream container. My kids wanted a sparkly colorful wishing well, so that is what we made.

We made two layers of them so they would look like a cobbled well, and cover the writing underneath. You could also paint the container beforehand to save on stones.

Then we loosely fixed a cross bar over the two side pieces with small pieces of cord, to act as a bucket wench. Loosely, though so our wench would turn and lower and raise the bucket. Our bucket is a lid from an old prescription bottle. We glued a jump ring on each side and tied more cord to them to make a bucket. Then we tied the bucket to one end of another cord and the other end of the cord to the cross bar. ta-da, working well.

Pooka pages suggested bark for the top, which we had, but it wasn't bendable enough, so we used a piece of cardboard instead. Angus and Winnie painted it.

When there was something that required me to do more of it (like the glue gunning) the kids colored the two well coloring pages from the Pooka Pages book. We read the story about the well before we even started.

Our completed well. We did the ritual outlined in the Ostara issue, and the kids have made several wishes already. They put some water in there, as no well is right without water. They keep chiding each other to be careful not to splash the magic out.

It is a rather overwhelming hit!

Tuesday, March 8, 2011


You don't have to read my blog long to know that I am a rather big proponent of letting kids play. My kids learn more from playing than I think most things in this world. They have deep conversations with their friends while playing. They learn to interact with people. They learn social skills -- those things that everyone feels homeschoolers are lacking. So we are big on play in our house. We go out of our way to provide the kids with things to play with and on that will get them moving, and thinking, and having fun. We have a trampoline, which, often times when it is warm out, is turned into a water park by putting the sprinkler underneath it.

We ride bikes a lot when it's warm. Sometimes with me, sometimes not. Everyone except Winnie can now ride without training wheels, so they often just take off and go for awhile exploring.

We spend a lot of time at the park whenever it's even mildly warm enough, or outside swinging in the backyard on the hammock.

Since it's been cold, we've joined our local community center and we spend a lot of time playing there. It's a great community center, with a climbing wall, huge swimming pool with slides, and giant kid play area. Needless to say, it's a hit with the kids.

Here are the kids shopping in the play grocery store at the community center.

Climbing the climbing wall with our friend Olivia.

Angus climbed up and hid in the hole to scare people as they walked by.

Zhara and Angus's dad visited for the weekend, and helped the kids on the climbing wall.

We even ended up hanging a swing in the basement, which gets a lot of use when it's cold.

Don't underestimate the power of play, people. It rocks!

Thursday, March 3, 2011

A Trip to the Grocery Store

Utah has a locally-owned grocery store called Harmons. They have awesome foods, and source as many of their products from local and organic producers as possible. Yesterday our Unschoolers group took a field trip. We had a very nice tour guide, Jenn, who took us all around.

I think the kids favorite part was the fact that at every stop around the store, we got samples of food -- gelato ice cream, brick oven pizza, artisan cheese, artisan bread, fresh baked cookies, pasta salad, shrimp. We were not hungry when we finished.

This is Shauna, the cheesemonger. She taught us a lot about the different kinds of cheeses, why they look like they do, what makes the colors of the cheese, where they come from. It was really interesting, even for those of us who are lactose intolerant. :)

At the end we got coloring books and balloons. It's hard to beat that for an end to a field trip. The only thing Winnie was mad about was that we didn't get to go in the back. Otherwise, it was thumbs up all the way around. Thank you, Harmons!

Spring is Coming!

See those? Those are seeds. They're next to my bed. They are sprouting, as I write this. It's worth the incovenience to getting in and out of bed to have these there. They are becoming amazing seedlings and micro-greens. You know why??? Because spring is coming! Yes, indeed it is, and we are excited about it. It's not here, yet, and in Utah, it may be late April or so before the snow completely stops, but the signs are there.

Yesterday we went on a field trip with our Unschoolers group. When we got back, the kids were antsy from being good for a prolonged period of time, so I turned them loose outside. It was only 50 degrees, but it was warm enough. They played in the front circle drive and literally (I kid not) climbed up and sat on top of the shed roof for like 2 hours.

Winnie is taking her stuffies for an outing. Apparently even they needed to get out and get some air.

The kids have really gotten into archery. Zhara got her compund bow and arrows for Christmas, but it's still a little dangerous for Angus and Winnie, so they are using this foam version. Dad has promised to take them to the indoor archery range that we found in town sometime in the next few weeks.

Even Olly enjoyed being out. It's hard to get a picture of him, he doesn't stand still long enough. I think I need a better camera for those pictures.

Evidence of the roof going. This was the girls (Zhara and her friend, Livie's) initial attempt at getting up there. After that, we got Angus up, and lots of blankets, pillows, and art supplies, and they spent the afternoon "feeling free" as Zhara said.

This morning Zhara was telling me that the three of them were having a long conversation on the roof about how much they love their lives. That they feel free, and like they can truly be kids and enjoy their lives because of how they are being raised. How Angus said that he definitely wants to raise his kids like this. Um, wow. This makes a mama cry a little. I am so glad that they realize what this life means. And, honestly, I cannot imagine a time when I was in school where I would say I loved my life just as it was. This is wonderfully crazy.

There was chalk and lots of ride on toys. There always are.

Angus would give Livie a ride just about anywhere. He's more than a little sweet on her.

Ostara is the name for the Spring Equinox in pagan culture. This year it is on March 20th. This morning we started talking about Ostara. We celebrate both pagan and Christian holidays, as we have both in our family. The kids love getting double duty on the holidays.

Yesterday we got the Ostara kids activity book that I had ordered in the mail.

This morning we read a story and did coloring pages about the coming holiday from the book Spring is coming.

Our finished artwork, hung for all to see.