Math Mondays::Silly Equivalencies.

On our trip to Yellowstone, we had a fantastic and fascinating discussions about bears.

Mostly because on the 7 mile dirt road up to our cabin, we came across a Grizzly bear ambling down the road. Grizzly. Bear. Windshield to Snout distance away. It beat a hasty retreat into the woods while Hubby yelled at me to roll the window back up. In an effort to get a picture, I’d instinctively rolled the window down to lean out and snap a shot. You can see where the brains of the family are. Someday, if you see video of a woman dying a ridiculous death at the hands of a totally avoidable wild animal, don’t be surprised if it’s me.

Anywho…that’s when the bear subject came up. Part of it centered on how much bears will eat in a day. Golfer had the chance to learn that when he helped hide food from some bears at the Grizzly and Wolf Discovery Center in West Yellowstone.

Here he is, hiding fruit and vegetables in the bear enclosure.

And here is one of the two bears, finding the food:

Golfer learned that in the late Summer months, a grizzly bear will eat up to 80-90 pounds per day to help stuff him up for a nice long hibernation.

This is where the math kicked in, as it always does when we venture into hypothetical situations of obscure facts (our favorite discussions to have, actually).

The kids started throwing out things like:

If a bear ate all watermelons, how many watermelons would that be? (they spontaneously discussed average weight, settling on about 2 pounds for an average watermelon)

How many quarter pounders would that be? (I loved listening to them figure this one out, dealing fluidly with fractions in their heads when they would balk if I sat down and wrote this out as a word problem)

How many chocolate shakes?

How many Sassy’s? (lol)

And then they started putting together combinations of things, like, watermelons + Sassy’s? (Sassy is 50 pounds, so how many more watermelons would he need to get to 80 pounds?)

This kind of silly equivalency game really never gets old. Even now that we’re home I know that the next time they hear a weight comparison of an object, in their heads they’ll be substituting it into a ‘bear food’ equivalency.

The sillier the equivalency, the better!


Why I’m making a cloak instead of packing for Yellowstone…

In the precious 48 hours before undertaking a big trip I have not done any of the following: pack, prepare, clean out the car, gotten provisions, assembled sleeping bags, organized trip packs for the kids, printed out directions (although, with googlemaps on my iphone, maybe that’s not so important? Unless we’re driving through the middle of nowhere?), or any of the other 30458304958 things I need to be doing.

Instead, I’m doing this with Naturalist:


That pattern is for a black cloak, with a tasseled hood, lined with silver. It’s something Naturalist has wanted ever since beginning The Sword of Shannara book series. And this week she said she really, really wanted a cloak at Yellowstone.

I could tell it meant a lot to her. As an unschooler, I’ve made it my job to keep my feelers out for experiences or activities that will really engage my kids in something deeply. Learning is all about connections, and my day is full of helping them make those connections in their lives. This, I knew, would be a big moment for her…both making the cloak and wearing it in and around Yellowstone.

She wanted it black, to blend into the night, and silver to blend in with the wolves in that National Park. Last time we were there we spotted some wolves, and she’s always had a thing for them. As much as there is to do, I would gnaw off my arms before I’d let a big moment pass by. So, that’s why we’ve been immersed the last 2 days in cloak making.

I suck at sewing, but a friend came to the rescue and we’re almost done with the thing. I think, if I don’t manage to mess it up in the final stretch, it’s going to look totally cool. Perfect for communing with wolves in Yellowstone and walking around a misty lake by our cabin.


Not quite ready to surrender summer to fall, even though the nights are cool enough to switch over to my flannel pajama pants (rawr!), here at Chez Childplay we are preparing for one final summer vacation. Well, to be precise, it will be Naturalist and my second to last summer vacation, but I’m getting ahead of myself. It will be our final family summer vacation, to our favorite place for such a thing…


The last time we went was 3 years ago…Sassy was 2 and was on Lake Hebgen right outside our cabin when I took this picture:


This year I have my precious, the DSLR, and am practically salivating over what kinds of shots there are to be found in Yellowstone. I tried it out in Yosemite and Sequoia National Parks (which you don’t know because I’ve been to busy (or…lazy?!) to blog about those trips) and Yellowstone will make a nice trifecta of National Park pictures this year.

Planning for this trip is not unlike planning a campaign for a small invasion. By the time we leave to make the 12 hour drive up to West Yellowstone (mileage wise it’s only 9 hours, but who are we kidding?! With 3 kids and a dog, we could easily triple that just in potty breaks!) I’m already exhausted, having planned the meal menu for the week, packed the clothes and cooking supplies, made sure the car was clean and stocked with things like wipes, plastic bags, paper towels, etc., etc. But the Park will restore me! As will nights on the lake, making smores by a campfire, hiking around geysers, watching bison amble down the road, finding animal tracks and scat with Naturalist, mornings making Deluxe Hot Chocolate (first time this year! And, btw, since that post almost 2 years ago we’ve added another step to deluxe hot chocolate making…a big scoop of vanilla ice cream in super hot hot chocolate…), and evenings playing card games with the family.

Educational experiences masked as a leisurely trip…my favorite!