Category Archives: play

Vacation; or, We Attack the Pacific Northwest

N.B.: I’m stealing the format of this post from Tammy, because it’s a great way to do this quickly given that we took about 4,000 pictures.

We drove from Pocatello to Port Townsend, WA (1,700 miles) to visit Grammy and Grandpa for 2 weeks (the kids staying an extra third week). We hadn’t been to Washington before so this was a great treat. Turns out, Anthropapa and I discovered it was ideal there, and we now have a 5 year plan to relocate to the Seattle area! Must get master’s degrees first, though.

A is for public Art. This was at the Seattle Center, and even had one tube the kids could climb inside:

B is for Beach. Grammy and Grandpa live above a private beach, complete with a sand dollar colony and 40 bazillion shells. This picture is from a day trip to Dungeness Spit:

C is for Clouds. We had beautiful weather except for one cloudy day, but the sunsets were gorgeous. This is the view from the back deck:

D is for Doughnut machine. SillyBilly has been reading Homer Price by Robert McCloskey, which features a doughnut machine run amok. We were thrilled to see this one in the Public Market on the waterfront in Seattle:

E is for bald Eagle. Grampa says there are one or two bald eagles flying by quite often, perching over the sound watching for fish. They are awe-inspiring. Sorry, I have a very lame camera. Squint a little:

F is for Fourth of July. We went up to Port Townsend to sit on the beach and watch the fireworks at Fort Worden. We could see fireworks from at least three other spots around the sound. The Fort Worden show was simple, but lasted much longer than any show we’d seen before:

G is for Columbia Gorge. We drove up the gorge on both ends of the trip. Coming west we kept seeing Mt. Hood peeking out at us. Going east we had a slightly less fun time (went the wrong way on the highway, before we could get off we saw a tanker truck on its side blocking the entire westbound side, had to backtrack all the way to Portland, two-hour delay leading to being on the road 12 hours). But we won’t blame it on the beautiful gorge. This is the view from the Washington side, westbound:

H is for Hat. Though the temps were cool, the sun was very strong and I needed my hat! I almost forgot it in the ferry terminal leaving Seattle that day. I remembered at the last minute, and when we went to get the hat from the bench where I’d left it, we found a young man trying it on! I waited to see if he really wanted it (I would have gladly left it behind, even though I like it) but Anthropapa ended up asking for it and the man gave it back a bit sheepishly. Now my little blue hat has a story:

I is for Interesting. Anthropapa and I snuck away one day to Seattle while the kids stayed with their grandparents. We had lunch with old friends (Hi Erin and Kensuke!), found some treasures at a Tibetan store (certainly none of that in Pocatello), parked ourselves for a few hours at the awesome Elliott Bay Book Company, and saw some amazing installations and exhibits at the Seattle Art Museum, including some Helga paintings by Andrew Wyeth, beautiful Northwest native weavings, and this installation in the lobby, which inspired some interesting conversations about meaning in modern art:

J is for Joy. So many things to be happy about on this trip! Being with Grammy and Grandpa, discovering things large (the Seattle Aquarium) and small (the Port Townsend Marine Science Center), seeing wildlife (seals, eagles, deer, elk, sand sharks, sculpin, crabs, sand dollars, goldfinches, gulls, jellyfish) and many wildflowers. This is a tiger lily among lupines up on Hurricane Ridge in the Olympic National Park:

K is for Kids playing. Lots and lots of that. This was at the Seattle Center:

L is for LEGO Liberty, also at the Seattle Center:

M is for Multnomah Falls, which Anthropapa and I stopped by to see on our way home. So beautiful!:

N is for Nibblers. We saw deer in the backyard, deer in open fields, and a few rather saucy deer who were clearly looking for handouts at the visitor center at Hurricane Ridge:

O is for Olympics. Truly awe-inspiring. Next time I hope we have time to explore more. We just had time to go on a quick hike,  a little taste of the beauty of these high mountain peaks:

P is for Playground. Even on vacation, sometimes it’s nice just to take a little swing:

Q is for Quiet. So often we had the beach to ourselves, or sat on the back deck watching for sailboats with just the birds to accompany us. Even on our hike on Hurricane Ridge, with lots of other people there enjoying the sunny day, it seemed quiet. Maybe it was the beauty all around us, like this avalanche lily:

R is for Rivulets on the sand. We went out on the private beach during low tide to explore the sand dollar colony and go beachcombing. I was entrance by the shapes the retreating water had made in the sand, and realized later that I saw very similar shapes in eroded mudflows by Mount St. Helens:

S is for Seattle Skyline. We went over twice on the ferry from Bainbridge Island. What a fun city, not too big or small, quite clean, and with friendly people. Lots of culture as well as amazing outdoor opportunities. We’ll be back, for sure:

T is for Transportation. We took several ferries, and rode the bus, a monorail, and a trolley. It was great fun to take the Bainbridge-Seattle ferry, seeing lots of sailboats, container ships, and even some jellyfish!:

U is for Unusual. We did many unusual things (for us), including staying up late, eating fried clams, watching movies, and playing with light-up light sabers on the Fourth of July:

V is for Volcano. Anthropapa and I scouted out Mount St. Helens National Monument on our way home. Yet another awe-inspiring mountain! I’ve always been interested in geology, and we both clearly remember the 1980 eruption (Anthropapa even remembers the ash fall in Montana). The visitor center has some great displays, and a rather frenetic film, but the star of the show is the mountain herself. Pictures really do no justice in this case:

W is for whirlpool. One day we noticed these beautiful water forms as the ferry left the terminal:

X is for eXciting! For the kids, even simple things were so very thrilling. Grammy took them fishing off the nearby dock several times. The first time, Napoleona almost immediately caught a sand shark! She couldn’t keep it (all six-gilled creatures must be released back) but was so amazed at herself. She and SillyBilly went on to catch several sculpin. Unfortunately, though they are edible, they are almost all head. Nobody wanted togut and clean them! They might look calm and cool, but really they were quite thrilled:

Y is for Yikes! As Anthropapa and I left Seattle on the ferry, we noticed this boat following us, resplendent in jaunty red and accented by a machine gun! The public address system notified us a few minutes later that this was a routine Coast Guard escort. Hmmm. Funny that we hadn’t seen one before! One time we watched the boat almost stop to intercept a sailboat that was unwisely heading toward the ferry. They wisely turned away, as I’m sure they noticed the nice man with the big gun out front:

Z is for blast Zone. The ridge where the Johnston Ridge Observatory now sits across from Mount St Helens was directly in the path of the pyroclastic flow in the 1980 eruption. It’s hard to conceive of that much earth moving so fast and so far. These trees, several feet in diameter, were simply snapped off at the base by the force of the blast:

And if you’ve read through all this, you deserve an award 🙂

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Filed under art, Books, Family, Food, friends, Napoleona, Nature, papa, play, Science, Silliness and Mayhem, SillyBilly, travel

Inherited Bookishness

Warning: book-related geekery ahead!

Today SillyBilly and I had a book-lovin’ afternoon. First we watched this video of a modern book bindery that a fellow EFA member mentioned on our group discussion board (double click to open this one):

This contrasted nicely with another video we watched a few months ago, on hot metal printing circa 1947:

We were amazed to see the differences: the technology, from stamping each letter into metal, lining them all up in order by hand, and pressing them into a copper plate, to an almost fully automated, computer-controlled assembly line. And the similarities: it’s still just paper, cardboard, and glue.

This inspired SillyBilly to continue working on his book, which received its table of contents and first page today:

The Haunted Mansion
The Haunted Mansion

Table of Contents
By D. Hunt
(Table of Contents)
1) The Powerful Goo
(2-7 still untitled)
7 Chapters!
To Mama from D.

There was a dark, dark forest and there was a colony of ghosts. There was a very special rock that was powerful that the ghosts…

(I don’t know what’s coming next…. I’ll keep you all informed.)

I love that dark, dark, forest. It’s hard to see, but the red thing is the eerie glow of a ghost’s eyes.

Later at dinner I was describing the modern bindery video to Anthropapa and Napoleona. Evidently it caught her imagination too, because after dinner I heard them playing with books: SillyBilly was making little machine sounds (whssshhht! ffffft!) as he slid books down the tilted footrest of our recliner, while Napoleona “inspected” the books as they came down, checking for proper pagination and end paper gluing.

Imitation at its finest! Videos might not be a strictly approved Waldorf activity, but I love what kind of art and play it inspired today.

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Filed under art, Books, editing, General silliness, Napoleona, play, SillyBilly, Writing

Time Keeps on Slipping, Slipping, Slipping…

This weekend my watch battery died. At first I was really disconcerted — I’m not exactly obsessed with knowing the time, but as a mom I find it a little easier to handle our daily rhythms if I know where we are in the day.

There have been times in my life where I didn’t have to wear a watch, but right now I am beholden to picking up and dropping off, waking and bedtimes. Our wall clock died an ignominious death on our cross-country move, and we haven’t gotten around to replacing it yet.

I discovered my watch was dead when Anthropapa brought SillyBilly home from the Pi/Einstein Day event and the grocery store. Papa mentioned that he thought I’d have dinner ready by then, as it was 6:30 and we usually start getting the kids ready for bed at 7. I was shocked — wasn’t it just 5:15?

The next morning Napoleona and I went to church. How would I know what time it was when the service was over? Um…why does that matter? Why can I not wait the 2 minutes before I can start up the car and check the time there? Hmmmm…maybe I am a bit obsessed.

Overall this weekend had a nice quality, even though both kids weren’t feeling that great and took whining to a new level. Time slipped by so easily! The kids made little bark and stick houses for their wooden squirrels, painted, drew maps, and helped set the table and make my bed. I did a few minutes of proofreading here and there, we listened to some fairy tales and silly stories on podcasts, and I finally started work on my native plant flower fairies (woo hoo!).

The pièce de résistance? This afternoon we all took a three-hour nap. Aaaaaahhhh.

Maybe I won’t get that watch battery replaced just yet.


Filed under Family, life, Napoleona, papa, play, SillyBilly

Snippets of Life

Can you tell I finally charged the camera batteries?

A few weeks ago we went over to ISU for some fresh air and exercise in the quad. It was one of those bright blue winter days.

The castle Administration building

The "castle" Administration building

The Fine Arts building, with the Portneuf Range behind it

The Fine Arts building, with the Portneuf Range behind it

These trees are perfect for little kids to climb. They’d been off-limits for a few months while a new patio area was being built next to the student union. We were excited to see that the fences were finally down.

Napoleona as a rosy-cheeked tree elf

Napoleona as a rosy-cheeked tree elf

SillyBilly demonstrating that there are no straight lines in nature

SillyBilly demonstrating that there are no straight lines in nature

I realized that I never posted the follow-up to the volcano project. SillyBilly painted his clay version brown and green, but we didn’t get around to adding any gravel and all our dinosaurs were too big! But it did look pretty splendid anyway.

Still couldnt find the red food coloring for the lava

Still couldn't find the red food coloring for the lava

Then one day we did some paintings with acrylics on dry paper. (I know, should be wet-on-wet. Here come the Waldorf police.) We investigated what we could do given only blue, red, and yellow.







The last two days, SillyBilly has been home sick. Another virus, another asthma attack. This time we even had to get out the evil prednisone. Which makes him hyper (along with the nebulized albuterol, boing boing boing) but I can’t let him play outside with his cough. Sigh. So we’ve done lots of stuff to keep him busy.

We talked about how you might say “the sky is blue” or “leaves are green” — but you’d be wrong! They can be many different colors, depending on the light, time of day, season, and so on. So SillyBilly experimented with his pencils to see how leaves might look:

New coloring book joy!

New coloring book joy!

Then he decided to something completely different with his pencils.

Spontaneous alphabetization

Spontaneous alphabetization

We made very sinful sugar cookies, with pink sprinkles for extra panache. SillyBilly chose acorn cutters, while I went with hearts.

Butter and coconut oil and sugar and almond extract...mmmmmm

Butter and coconut oil and sugar and almond extract...mmmmmm

With the oven still hot from the cookies, I roasted an eggplant and made my first ever batch of baba ghanoush, as we for one had tahini on hand. Napoleona declared she loved it so much that she was going to cook it every single day for her own kids some day. Then we realized she was talking about the store-bought hummus. Oh well.

I’m hoping SillyBilly is better by tomorrow afternoon, because there’s a Pi Day/Einstein’s birthday event at the local mall, complete with liquid nitrogen and a Van de Graaf generator. He’s not going to want to miss that.

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Filed under art, Family, Food, Health, life, Napoleona, play, SillyBilly

A Week in Photos

SillyBilly had the week off because his school was closed for parent-teacher conferences and teachers’ conferences. So in between him making LEGO contraptions, playing outside with friends (usually riding his bike or scooter, trying to climb a tree,or roaming around with a bunch of boys brandishing sticks and light sabers!), and eating me out of house and home, we did a few things together.

On Tuesday the Idaho Museum of Natural History was giving away bird guides to any kids who came in with an adult, in honor of the Great Backyard Bird Count this weekend. (We’ll have to figure out where we can do that, since our apartment complex only seems to attract starlings.) We hadn’t been to the museum yet, even though it’s just downstairs from Anthropapa’s office. It’s a great little museum, perfect for kids, with easily digestible exhibits and a nice hands-on science exploration room. We looked at lots of dinosaur and ancient mammal skeletons, displays of how a paleontology excavation looks, a video on Idaho geology, and some beautiful taxidermied local bird species. And of course ye olde gifte shoppe, which was selling real excavating tools (!) but we settled for some coloring books.

So after that we were inspired to make volcanoes! (You know: dinosaurs + geology = volcanoes, right?) First we made a practice one out of a paper plate, aluminum foil, and an empty yogurt container:

Our dish soap, baking soda, and vinegar lava was yellow because we were out of red food coloring!

Then after we got a handle on how the volcano would work, we made another one out of the yogurt container and air-dry clay:

I’ll have to convince SillyBilly to add a bit more clay, and then he’ll paint it. He’s also got big plans to add gravel and some dinosaurs to make a scene. Maybe I’ll make him some little clay palm trees to go with it.

One day this week we got a bit more snow (though it’s melted again by now) and since I had finally remembered to charge the camera batteries, we stopped on the way home from dropping off Anthropapa and Napoleona at ISU to get a shot of the beautiful Portneufs:

Next time I’ll try to zoom in a bit to show the peaks more, but at least you can see the beautiful colors and morning light of winter here. The city, which is somewhat lower than the bank of trees in the middle foreground, is at about about 4500′ and these mountains reach about 8000′.

Then just after I took that photo, I happened to look down at my feet:

Not my footprints, but those of a leetle rabbit who had passed by sometime earlier.

On other days we went to the library, where SillyBilly all by himself asked the reference librarian where to find books on dragons. We hit the thrift store to buy some shirts, as both kids have been doing all sorts of growing lately. And both kids made a pile of valentines for school. (Napoleona had her party today — we were evidently the only ones to make our own valentines. I’m not sure I get why Spiderman, Hannah Montana, and sexy fairies have to do with Valentine’s day. Ours had hearts punched out, heart stickers…just hearts.)

This afternoon after we made some rosemary bread together, SillyBilly asked to use the camera. Things rapidly got out of hand:

In that last one he is wiggling his latest loose tooth. Where did this big boy come from, and what did he do with my baby boy? And then I see things like this, and I can already imagine the young man he will become:

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Filed under Crafting, Family, Napoleona, play, Science, Silliness and Mayhem, SillyBilly

O Frabjous Day!

O, blessed day! Oh day of cleaning and crafting and cooking! Oh, no turkey leftovers!

Wait, that last one’s not so good. Darn.

I boiled some newspapers that the kids had gladly ripped into tiny shreds. The goal is papier mache pulp. Right now I have a steaming pot of gray pulpy stuff with blackish bits floating in tan water. Right, Christmas presents ho! I have all confidence that said ugly stuff will transform into items of delight. At some point.

Anthropapa and I went on a mini cleaning spree, in anticipation of holiday decorating. Amazing what a few minutes of focused attention will achieve, when one has previously taken to simply gazing around in consternation and giving up. Meanwhile the kids played outside for several hours, at one point playing hide and seek with some neighbor kids. Love that!

I made pumpkin chocolate chip cookies. Recipe here. They are the bomb. Hard to go wrong with butter, sugar, flour and chocolate. With pumpkin.

On another, less frabjous note — as I was writing this, Napoleona slipped on the kitchen floor and split open the underside of her upper lip, up where the lip turns into gum. Ow. And nothing for it except an ice pack, and perhaps some weak sage tea rinse later.

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Filed under Crafting, Family, Food, holidays, Napoleona, papa, play, Silliness and Mayhem

It’s All Good

I’m sitting in a comfy chair, eating a wedge of homemade chocolate chip shortbread.* I look out the window to watch SillyBilly flying a toy airplane out on the lawn in the wind. I can hear a cat munching on kibble across the room, and in a minute he’ll probably come over and try to lie on top of my laptop. Once I finish this post, I’ll keep working on my latest editing project, a monograph about water rights, agency, and identity in Australia. Later, SillyBilly and I will do some laundry, make some bread,** and probably make some more Christmas cards. In quiet moments, I might muse on the long phone conversation I had last night with our old friend who is now a successful novelist, whom we haven’t spoken to in about fifteen years.

Here comes the cat. Have a peaceful day!

* * * * *

*The perfect recipe for little kids to make all by themselves:

Cream 2 sticks of butter with 1/2 cup sugar.

Mix in some chocolate chips, and 2 cups of flour. (I had to help with this part as it’s very dry, stiff dough.)

Press the dough into a pan and bake for 40 minutes at 300F. When a toothpick comes out clean, let cool in the pan. Cut a piece and snarf it down. Loll about reveling in the contentment your tummy now feels, and then run about like a madman with the sugar rush.

**Update: I just took two loaves out of the oven. You know that rule that says you shouldn’t cut open freshly baked bread until it’s cool? THE SMELL OF THIS BREAD IS KILLING ME!

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Filed under editing, Food, friends, life, play, SillyBilly

Homeschool Days

SillyBilly’s school was closed today, yesterday he was off of school for a dentist’s appointment, and he will have the entire next week off too (teacher conferences and inservices). So, I’ve been thinking of this as a temporary homeschooling opportunity.

We’ve been taking walks:

Today was very cold and cloudy. There is a dusting of snow on the mountains to the south. SillyBilly was prospecting for rocks; he’s holding a rock, his toilet-paper-tube binoculars, and a construction paper pouch he made to hold treasures. We brought home several large rocks, which he scrubbed clean in the sink and then investigated thoroughly. I think the boy needs a book about minerals for Christmas!

We’ve been playing with masks:

This one was a cutout from the latest issue of Ladybug magazine, to go with a seasonal story about a snowshoe hare. For some reason, our cats totally freaked out over the kids wearing this mask. Puffy tails, arched backs, even hissing. We think they thought the kids were turning into some sort of large animal, yet still smelled the same, and the cats’ tiny brains just couldn’t handle it.

We’ve been making a new nature table:

SillyBilly did this one all by himself. We found a cool arch of bark on a walk, and he made it into a gnome’s cave, complete with hanging doorbell, mushroom garden, and a mossy bed.

We’ve been cooking:

SillyBilly made lunch for us today. And he did it all: choosing and preparing the food, the beautiful presentation, and setting the table. I especially liked the celery leaf garnish atop the sandwiches. He also helped make apple cranberry crisp for dessert tonight.

We’ve been sewing:

He wanted to make the cats a treat, so we hand sewed  a little square and filled it with catnip. Above you see the cat playing with his new lovey, the catnip pouch. Here’s the cat in his normal state:

And here’s the cat in post-drug use torpor (note the glazed look in his eyes. Of course the cat’s 14 years old, so he often looks like this anyway). SillyBilly also made this little “house” for the cats from a box and some play cloths:

And we’ve been taking pictures (obviously):

I let SillyBilly use my camera as he’s shown that he can be careful with it, and remember how to use it, and because he pesters me often enough. He ran around the house taking shots of random things. I praised him for this one’s nice composition (my nightstand — pardon the mess!) He also took a picture of me knitting, but I can’t share it as I was making a super-secret Christmas present.

We’ve also been reading a lot. Both SillyBilly and Napoleona are on the cusp of reading — sounding out lots of words, figuring out how words are spelled all on their own, and recognizing short words on the page. They’ve also been enjoying spouting math facts: I heard Napoleona say quite loudly “Five and five and one are ELEVEN!” while using the toilet tonight. She’s four years old. I’m scared!

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Filed under Crafting, Family, Food, Kid Talk, Napoleona, Nature tables, Parenting, play, School, Silliness and Mayhem, SillyBilly

Say What?

It’s October, right?

Inside the house, it’s all squash pancakes, applesauce, and this:

But this morning, outside it’s like this:

And so the kids had to go outside and get up to no good:

Mr. Tumnus will be with us shortly, I think.


Filed under Napoleona, Nature, Nature tables, play, Silliness and Mayhem, SillyBilly

Belated Birthday Pictures

Last weekend Grammy and Grampy came from Washington to celebrate SillyBilly’s birthday.

While Grammy and I did some crafty shopping and got the birthday cake, Grampy and Anthropapa took the kids bowling at the ISU student union.

Check out the boy’s awesome moves, and his amazing rental shoes!

The thrill of victory…

And the agony of defeat.

We enjoyed a yummy, very unhealthy, luridly colored birthday cake.

The next day we showed Grammy some of the ISU Rock Walk while the kids rode around on their bikes

and climbed trees.

And here’s SillyBilly upon completing the whole LEGO shebang with Anthropapa and Grampy.


Filed under Family, Food, holidays, Napoleona, papa, play, Silliness and Mayhem, SillyBilly