Tag Archives: Revel

March 7th

March 7th

warm, rainy in the morning, damp, 50’s. moon phase: waxing gibbous with 74% of disc illuminated

My favorite thing about unschooling, is that there is no distinction between “learning” and “living.” Learning can happen anytime, and does happen all the time, in a million different ways.

Today, unschooling looks like going to the local natural history museum to play with friends.

It looks like wearing pajama pants in the afternoon and making art .

Revel art:

Revel making a painting of his favorite animal, an American Bison (Bison bison)

And mama art:

Sketching a Spicebush Swallowtail Butterfly (Papilio troilus) we picked up off the forest floor last summer, already had died. It fluttered out of a book we had pressed it in the other day, a little reminder of summer. by natasha

And it looks like finding some of the first flowers of spring:

Painting of Common Snow Drop (Galanthus nivalis) we found near the creek at one of our favorite park. by natasha

Will unschooling be the right education option for Revel’s entire school career? I have no idea. We will just evaluate as we go. But I do believe humans love to learn. And experiment. And adventure. And we thrive when our lives are full of rich experiences, friendship, nature, and love. So for now, unschooling suits us very well, and fits into our lives in a way that feels very natural and quite beautiful and delightfully wild.


January 19th

January 19th

50’s, warm, cloudy, light sun, 12:57

A few years ago, in one of our favorite parks on the edge of town, the boys and I found a dead deer along the bank of the little conestoga creek. They were still super little, and were so bundled up in their little snow pants and jackets and mittens and hats that they could barely move that day. They were fascinated by the deer in sort of an offhand way, spent a little bit of time looking at it and then went about their business. Later we brought will back and he harvested the antlers, intending to use them for flint knapping or other projects. So the park was christened “the deer park” by the boys and we’ve called it that ever since.

Yesterday we picked up Zander from school and decided to head over to the deer park for a little romp.The understory there is very tangled and thick, filled with multiflora rose and stinging nettles and it’s nearly impossible to explore off trail during the summer months, so we hadn’t been to the old deer site for quite awhile, as it’s well off the beaten path.

There, lo and behold, was the skull of the old deer and some of the bones. The remains had been strewn about a bit and quite a few had been carried off out of sight. We looked for tracks and noticed all the little places where rodents and gnawed with their little teeth, seeking calcium and other hard to find nutrients, and then we collected the skull and a few of the vertebrae and leg bones, a scapula and some ribs to study at home.
The boys are both fascinated by the presence of bones, within their own bodies, and the ones we come across when we’re out exploring. I’m fascinated by them too, to be honest. How reassuring it is that something so sturdy lies just below the surface of such delicate bodies, and how we are put together in such a delicate, and complicated, way.

White tailed deer scapula. by natasha
white tailed deer vertebrae. by natasha
White tailed deer skull. by natasha


January 9th

January 9th


Cold, 20’s, light breeze, waxing gibbous 89%, sunrise 7:27, sunset 4:58


It’s finally cold enough to really feel like winter. This old house is chilly in the corners and the sky has settled into the steely white/gray it likes to wear in this kind of weather. Rev has a friend over and I love to hear the sounds of their playing while I make lunch in the kitchen. They’re busily packing for a journey to Antarctica, which appears to involve piling up a bunch of random items and then “reading” chapter books to each other for the duration of a long, pretend train ride.


Which actually reminds me of an insanely long train trip I took from Philadelphia to Vermont once, on the wobbliest train over the crookedest tracks during the coldest part of the winter. I drank ginger ales in the dining car and tried not to succumb to motion sickness, and watched the snow getting deeper outside the window as the miles rolled by. It was dark by the time we reached Burlington. There was no platform at that station and we all marched off the train straight into a snowbank. It felt like stepping into the north pole or like I had been transported into some strange lonesome frozen northland that I was wholly unprepared for. Then I took a winding taxi ride to my accommodations on the banks of the frozen Lake Champlain. It was too dark to see anything so late in the evening and the space it took up felt more like a gaping abyss in the earth than a large body of water, except you could hear the ice whispering down below, telling its secrets in some strange and unfamiliar language.

But maybe every winter feels like that a bit. Like one day the world is one way and the next day it’s another and you’re wholly unprepared for the change even if you know it’s coming but you’re kind of ready for it too.

January 3d


January 3d

Very rainy, gray, chilly, no sun

Once, a very long time ago, Wil and I and a very good friend had the pleasure of watching  the slow progress of a lunar eclipse from the rocky bank of our favorite creek. I stood, eyes open, nearly unblinking, wanting to see actual movement, but all I could see was progress. Slowly the moon disappeared, and reappeared, but no matter how much I stared, it was like still frames instead of video. The pace of progress was so slow, you’d swear it was all just a clever magic trick.

Watching Rev grow is just like that eclipse. I’ve been watching him for four years, waiting to catch him in the act of growth, but all I can see is the progress, the still frames, not the video.

Suddenly, he can get his own water from the kitchen, get himself dressed. He asked to do the dishes the other day, he can write his own name with his own little hands, he can listen to long stories without pictures and understand the jokes. He’s kind, he’s a good friend to his friends and cousins, he gets incredibly excited about incredibly mundane things. He like to make his own decisions and sometimes we clash. He makes me laugh. He’s still our baby, but he’s not a baby anymore.

From one day to the next his pants are too short, his little t-shirt threatens to expose his belly button. His shoes are almost too small.

What sleight of hand is this, this change too slow to see? Brutal is what it is. And beautiful. So, so beautiful. It takes my breath away.

gray squirrel (Sciurus carolinensis) bones we extracted from a great horned owl (Bubo virginianus) pellet we found on the bank of a local pond. sketch by Natasha

Nov. 17th

November 17th

We had the baby today (one of the adorable little girls I watch during the week), so we decided to head over to the little park, Buchanon park, on the edge of the city. I ran over, and my muscles felt good and strong as I pushed our double stroller over uneven sidewalks and through crosswalks. The baby sucked her thumb and Rev worked on his mental map of the city, offering me suggestions on which way we should go. The sun was extremely bright and the leaves, although there are less of them now still on the trees, are still incredibly brilliant. There has been very little rain this fall and the show of colors is endless, wild and amazing, even though the dryness concerns me.


Rev is learning the trees, and he pointed out the oaks today, which he often calls acorn trees. The trees in the city have been a pleasant surprise. They are many, and many of them are quite old and large. “Grandads” we call them as we pass. Because we pass the same trees everyday on our walks, they have become very familiar to us. It seems a perfect place to learn the patterns of leaves, and bark, branches, and twigs, the opposite and alternate, the toothed and smooth, the rough and furrowed as we wander around on errands or for fun. I encourage Rev to give them more familiar names, “like we have” I say, and so he often names them Revel Alvarez, like himself. It’s a city forest of Revels, a concept that delights both of us.


Rev’s imagination was going full tilt this morning and he spent a long time playing a very involved game that involved an old hemlock stump as a “pirate ship”, and a “laboratory” on top of the statue of the soldier with the musket. The baby and I alternately wandered through the rose garden and assisted “Captain Rev” in his adventures. Standing atop the statue, he asked me if there was a real man inside the giant metal figure. “No, no.” I explained, “it’s a statue.” and went about the business of describing how the statue was made. “But does the statue get up at night and walk around?” Rev asked. “What do you think?” I asked him, my usual response to questions like this. Who am I to tell him what’s real and not? What do I know?  “Yeah, I think he does.” He said after a few moments of pondering. And we spent a few minutes imagining all the things the statue probably did at night, like take baths in the swimming pool, eat apples from the trees, play in the dog park, and fight bad guys. After that he was ready to go.

On our way home he noticed a metal grate slightly ajar in front of the big old catholic church on the corner. When we checked under the grate, we discovered a paver with an “x” stamped onto its’ surface. We decided it was a clue to buried treasure obviously, although we disagreed over whether it was a “bad guy” who put it there, or a “good guy”. I really felt it was  probably a good guy who left it there, but Rev was sure it was the opposite. Wil told me later it was an old border marker for the property line, but Rev’s still pretty positive there’s a mystery somewhere there, and I choose to agree.