Pine Creek Falls Recess

The calendar says January, but the outside temps feel more like May. We've had windows open during the day and sometimes leave the house without a jacket. It's kind of nice, but I miss winter.

Fortunately, we just need to get a little higher to find snow and ice.

After an icy drive up to the Pine Creek campground, we met Erica and her three kiddos for a mid-day, mid-week walk to the falls. Think of it as homeschool recess.

The trail was icy much of the way (shakes fist at warm weather), but there was snow all around and no one seemed to mind the slipping and sliding. The kids slid down snow-covered rocks, stepped on slippery rocks in the creek, broke icicles off the waterfall, threw snowballs, and soaked their snowpants. There was fallen tree walking, frozen waterfall slides, and all that outdoor, unstructured play we always say we want for our kids.

This was the first time we've really hung out with Erica and kids, and it was great. All the kids instantly got along and it's so nice for me to get to know a like-minded, homeschooling, outdoor gal.

It was well worth the sketchy drive up and down the hill.

Slide Rock

I was the only one not wearing red. Whoops.

Off-trail snow running.
Frozen Pine Creek Falls

"Can we climb the waterfall?" Sure, what could go wrong?

Pine Creek Falls in All Seasons

* Here's what it looks like in spring.
* And in summer glory.
* One of our fall walks.

Permalink 01/29/15 02:14:00 pm, by Mel Email , 254 words, Categories: Hikes, Anders, Finn, Learning ,

Traveling Mel Youtube channel

One of the advantages of marrying a filmmaker is that I get all the videos I could ever want. The advantage of marrying a tall filmmaker is that I never have to reach the top cupboards again. But, I digress...

Henry set up a Youtube channel for me and is working on a series of hot springs flicks. The first one is live.

We'd love it if you would watch, click through and "like," and maybe even subscribe to the channel.

Thank you! And look for an Elkhorn Hot Springs video next.

Permalink 01/26/15 07:34:00 am, by Mel Email , 93 words, Categories: Yellowstone, Hot Springs, Video, Anders, Finn ,

So, now we are into football (sort of)

Yesterday, was a lovely day. It was 40-degrees, sunny, and most importantly—not windy.

The boys wanted to go to the park to throw a football back and forth. I’m all for the park, we need to get outside everyday for everyone’s sake, but football? Ugh.

There are a lot of different names and philosophies for not sending kids to school. I usually say we “homeschool” because that’s easiest for people to understand. It doesn’t exactly explain what we do, but if someone really wants to know they’ll ask more questions.

We are life learners. My hope is to foster a love of learning, an ability to find needed information, and to raise out-of-the-box thinkers. I teach compassion, mindfulness, physics, reading, how to clean a toilet, and that this world is an amazing place filled with love, beauty, heartbreak, and inequalities. The boys teach themselves all kinds of things.

It's a 20-year experiment.

I have no idea what kind of jobs my kids will have when they grow up. When I was six or seven, I never imagined I be a social media manager, a blogger, or freelance writer that submits articles from my couch.

Anders attempts to hike the ball.

We are interest-led learners. By letting the kids dive into things they're interested in, so the thinking goes, they will dive deep, work hard, learn more, and stick to it. I give them space and opportunities to explore the things that grab their attention.

The reality is that most of the things that they are interested in are really boring to me. Ninjas. Lego. Minecraft. Angry Birds. Weapons of all sorts. And now it's football.

Personally, I dislike all organized team sports. Too much pressure to do well for others. Too much depending on others to make me successful. That says a lot about me.

But I don't want to push that on my kids.

The boys play soccer (the most bearable of all the team sports, in my opinion), and floorball, in addition to the solo sports like hiking and cross-country skiing. Lately, they've been really interested in football. Seriously?

So like a good interest-led homeschooling mom, I have been facilitating that interest.

For Anders, it mostly means knowing where each NFL team plays, what their mascot is, and then spending hours locating the stadiums on a map. He's also the kid who spent more time coming up with the brand and mascot for his soccer team, along with the backstory, then actually playing soccer. I may be exaggerating a little, but that happened.

Some of his friends have been really into football too, but actually play not just looking up geographic locations of football stadiums. So I checked in with both boys and asked if they would like to get a football and learn to throw it. Then I got Henry to teach them how to throw and catch. Remember, I don't do team sports.

Finn runs the field (is that even a football term?).

As it turns out, even though our kids are into the very boring subject of football, they are learning about geography, racial stereotypes (think the Redskins), and gaining some motor skills along the way. My friend, Tiny Jen, suggested looking into where the teams got their names, something she did in school. Knowing why the Packers are the Packers, is right up our kids’ alley.

So, while the boys throw the ol’ pigskin around the park, I get to do laps on the half-mile perimeter and get a little exercise. I’m into interest-led learning, too. Yay for football!

Permalink 01/24/15 07:10:00 am, by Mel Email , 595 words, Categories: Anders, Finn, Learning ,

God Jul! {2014}

Permalink 12/25/14 05:35:00 pm, by Mel Email , 0 words, Categories: Festivals/Events, Anders, Family, Finn ,

Christmas Eve Tradition {2014}

We've made it a tradition in our family to spend Christmas Eve in Yellowstone. While any day is a good day to play in the park, I really like to get us out the day before Christmas. We get away from the frenetic Santa-waiting and presents and commercialism. We do that stuff, too, just not until Christmas morning.

I keep saying that our family motto is "Get Outside as Often as You Can." I was even quoted in this article in the Farmer's Almanac about ways to get outside on Christmas. Someone should cross-stitch or needlepoint that motto for me.

It's often easier to snuggle down in the house, put on a movie, and zone out, but whenever we make the effort, I'm glad we get out. I'm glad we cultivate some hygge. (And then those snuggly days at home are extra special.)

This Christmas Eve was gray, and not everyone was feeling 100 percent. To be honest, it wasn't the most joyous day. But, it was still fun. It was still good to get outside. And it was really rad to keep the tradition alive.

Here it is. Soaking in the Boiling River and a little ski around Mammoth's Upper Terrace Drive.

As soon we got to the trailhead, the boys ran up this hill.

Bonus! Bighorn sheep sighting on the way home.

(Boiling River photos by Henry.)

Permalink 12/25/14 04:46:00 pm, by Mel Email , 228 words, Categories: Yellowstone, Wyoming, Hot Springs, Cross-Country Skiing, Seasons, Anders, Finn ,

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