Category Archives: Things To Do Around Seattle

Homeschool Mother’s Journal–Possessed Strollers and Dealing With Public Displays of Domestic Violence

Woodland Park Zoo 5In my life this week… I’m sure a lot of interesting things happened to me this week, but they were all overshadowed by today, which was just one of the most bizarre days that I have ever had. Honestly, I could probably spend an entire year blogging just about today, but I will just share the two events that stood out the most. Today ended up being quite nice here, in the mid 40’s and very sunny, so Dora and I decided to go to the Woodland Park Zoo. As we were walking from our car to the entrance, a man, woman, and child came out and the man was yelling at the woman. His voice clearly carried across the entire parking lot. The woman’s apparent crime was suggesting that they park on the street, to save the cost of paying for a parking spot and that they bring in their own sodas, rather than pay the exorbitant cost of buying sodas at the zoo. I really could have cared less about this debate, but this man was yelling at the woman like she had suggested stealing food from an orphanage. Not only was he verbally abusing her, but he kept grabbing her shoulders very firmly, as if he intended to shake her violently. He was clearly in a rage and I expected him to become physically violent at any moment. Meanwhile, the woman just stood there, mute, eyes cast downward. The child silently observed, taking it all in. I stayed near by, ready to call 911 and physically intervene, if need be, but things never escalated to the point, where either option was appropriate. The man finally got into his truck and the woman walked away to wherever her car was parked. Even then, the man started yelling out his window, mocking her, saying she could have his paid parking stub. By that point, a couple of us mothers had formed a group, all of us itching for the man to cross that invisible line that would give us permission to let loose on him. The whole event soured my entire day and I spent many hours replaying the experience in my head, trying to think of what I could have done to help that woman. I can’t think of anything that I could have done that would not have just made things worse for her, but I am curious as to whether or not anybody else knows of something positive that I could have done for this woman (ideas such as hanging the man by his toes above a moat of hungry crocodiles have already occurred to me – okay, I’ll be honest, hanging him by his toes over a moat of hungry crocodiles would have been mild compared to what I really wanted to do to him). I felt so powerless, the man seemed to know exactly how badly he could behave without bringing down the wrath of a group of rabid, frothing at the mouth, banshee moms who would have gladly torn him limb from limb. I have had similar experiences where children were involved. Where I have been left with the feeling that if this is how the parent acts in public, most assuredly the child is abused at home. Yet, once again, the parent does nothing illegal and I don’t see any physical evidence of abuse, so there is nothing I can do, but wring my hands and worry.

Woodland Park Zoo 6The second event worth noting happened as Dora and I were exiting a bird building. We came out to see the back of a stroller, which I had previously believed to be empty, shaking in an extremely violent manner. I won’t lie, the first thought that ran through my head was that the stroller was possessed by some sort of exorcist-baby. Then I panicked, thinking that previously I had simply not noticed that there was a baby that had been left unattended in the stroller. Then I realized that no baby would shake a stroller like that and not be screaming his head off. I probably would have just fled the area, except for the fact that the possessed stroller lay between me and my stroller. I should mention here that I have a Bob’s stroller and love that stroller so much, I would have married my stroller, if I wasn’t already married. So I timidly approached the possessed stroller, to find that there was a squirrel ransacking the stroller. In was running in and out of the lovely baby bunting and just behaving in a generally insane manner. I managed to shoo the squirrel away from the stroller, grabbed our stroller and ran back to the bird building, by which point the squirrel had gone back to ransacking the other stroller. I ran in the bird building and hailed a father with his little girl, who I was pretty sure the stroller belonged to. I breathlessly told him that there was a squirrel in his stroller. He stared at me blankly and I began to worry that he was Russian or something and couldn’t understand me. So I repeated myself and started gesturing, at which point comprehension dawned on his face (it was only later that it occurred to me that I also would probably stare blankly at someone if they came running up to me and said, “There’s a squirrel in your stroller.”). He ran outside and chased the squirrel away, but the squirrel had taken some of his stuff and ransacked the bunting. He half-heartedly tried to convince the squirrel to give him back his stuff, but finally left dejectedly. There is probably some sort of life lesson to be learned from this experience, but I’m not sure what it is, other than “watch out for crazy squirrels”.

Woodland Park Zoo 3In our homeschool this week… Gohan continues to do much better with the 3rd edition of Saxon Algebra, though he is having to write his first full essay in his Oak Meadow Language Arts program and I may pull out all of my hair before we get through this ordeal.

Felt Envelope Valentines 1Things I’m working on… 50 handmade, felt valentines. We learned on Monday, the 4th, that our co-op is having a Valentine’s Day party on the 12th and that if we want to participate, we should bring 50 valentines and a dessert to share. Of course, Dora HAS to go. She is totally the type of kid who is into these things (in fact she recently told me that she plans to go to school when she is 7, because she wants to eat school lunches). So, I knew that I had to make the effort to make this work, but I just couldn’t bring myself to buy the store bought valentines. So, I’m making 50 felt valentines in 8 days. Amazingly, I am not stressed about it at all. I’ve accepted my self-chosen fate and hold no resentment about doing this whatsoever, even though I consider not dealing with mass quantities of un-heartfelt valentines to be one of the many perks of homeschooling. I’m putting love into every stitch of every single Valentine I make, which no store bought valentine could ever do. I hope that the recipients are able to feel a bit of that love, which is what Valentine’s Day is supposed to be about. What about you, are you doing anything special with your children for Valentine’s Day?

A photo, video, link, or quote to share: The poem that Dora and I read this week is from Outside Your Window: A First Book of Nature, by Nicola Davies.

The Horse

The horse is so big!
It runs across the field, mane flying.
It's exciting and scary at the same time.

But its warm breath smells of the barn,
of hay and comfort,
and when it takes the carrot from your hand,
its dark eye is quiet
and its nose is velvet,
softer than your own cheek.

Please note my left sidebar for all the awesome link-ups that I am participating in.

Disclosure: Some item links in this post are affiliate links. I will make a small amount of money if you click on them and make a purchase. All opinions expressed, however, are 100% my own.


Labels: Things To Do Around Seattle, Valentine's Day, Wrapping Up Our Week
Posted by Maureen Sklaroff

Homeschool Mother’s Journal–Still No Snow

In my life this week… I watched the entire third season of Downton Abbey. I even ordered some Downton Abbey fan shirts, one of which reads, “Free John Bates”. This is all very unusual for me. I think the last show I was obsessed with was Star Trek: Next Generation (in the late 80’sand early 90’s), and I never bought a fan shirt for that! I am happy that I don’t need to worry about reading anymore Downton spoilers! I won’t spoil anything for all of you though, so I won’t say anything more about the show, other than I am eager for season four.

It looks like Tertia did not have tonsil stones after all, she went back to urgent care and they diagnosed her with mono. I had no idea about this, since everyone I knew growing up, had their tonsils removed, but mono can cause horrible tonsillitis. The doctor gave Tertia some prednisone and it seemed to help some with her tonsils. Plus, her boss forbid her to come in to work all week, so she has been able to sleep a lot. So she is doing some better. The silver lining in this cloud is that Dora may have been exposed to mono and I guess young children don’t get mono as badly as teens and adults do, so she may never have to deal with full-blown mono when she is older. In fact, this might explain some of Dora’s recent “less than ideal” behavior. I know that some people bring their kids to “pox parties” to expose their children to chicken pox while they are still young, but it seems like they should also add “mono parties” to their social repertoire while they are at it.

Imagine Children's Museum 1

Places we’re going and people we’re seeing… My mother-in-law left on Wednesday. Her visit was rather non-eventful, other than she was miserable with our weather and didn’t want to go many places, as a result. So, we did not make it to the Chihuly Garden and Glass, which is partially outside. I did take Dora to the Imagine Children’s Museum yesterday. We stayed for several hours, during which Dora spent the whole time stressed out, because other kids kept “milking” the pretend cow and Dora felt it should be her cow. I had no idea that she was so obsessed with cows, but now she wants us to buy a cow (not happening)! We finally had to leave when our paid parking was about to expire and Dora threw the worst tantrum in her life. She was so exhausted by the end of it! Waldorf educators warn about exposing young children to too much stimulation and I am not sure if that was not the case for her. The museum is always crowded when we go and many of the kids are out of control. It has tons of visual and aural stimulation and overall, I wonder if it is just not too much for Dora’s delicate sensory system.

Fall Gnomes

Things I’m working on… I’m still trying to finish Dora’s scarf. I also added acorn caps to the fall monthly gnomes that I made for Dora and I’ve cut out some felt to make flower hats for the spring gnomes. I still needed to settle on what I am going to do for the summer and winter gnomes.

A photo, video, link, or quote to share… This is the song that I read with Dora this week. We are still trying to read poems and sing songs about snow, in hopes of encouraging some snow to appear, but still no luck. In fact, we’re about to give up. This poem comes from an anthology from Wynstones Press, entitled, Winter: A Collection of Poems, Songs and Stories for Young Children.

Where the country's deep with snow,
carts and coaches cannot go.
Now's the time to take the sleigh,
down the hills and far away.

Down the slipp'ry slope we slide
Bumping swaying side to side.
If you tumble now and then-
Climb the hill and start again.

-G. Russell-Smith

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Disclosure: Some item links in this post are affiliate links. I will make a small amount of money if you click on them and make a purchase. All opinions expressed, however, are 100% my own.


Labels: Things To Do Around Seattle, Wrapping Up Our Week
Posted by Maureen Sklaroff

Homeschool Mother’s Journal–Hanging Out On Seattle’s Waterfront

Seattle Great Wheel 4In my life this week… I did hear back from my nephrologist. She said that it appears that I have a rheumatological disease that has damaged the tubes in my kidneys. She wants me to see a rheumatologist before she does anything more than continue to supplement my potassium, which may be all that she ever does, besides monitor my kidneys, anyway. She said that it is highly unlikely that my kidneys will get better, even if the rheumatologist gets my immune system under control. The rheumatologist is booked until the end of February and this doesn’t bother me at all, as I am in no hurry to start taking the medicines that are used to treat rheumatological disorders, which really seem rather unhealthy to be taking. I do know that the meds will help to prevent my body from attacking any of my other organs, which is good, but I am unclear as to whether or not I will have more energy once I am on these meds.

Seattle Great Wheel 8

In our homeschool this week… Gohan started Algebra 1. Mathematically, he is capable of doing the work, but the vocabulary is tripping him up (dyslexia rears its ugly head even in math). So he is needing much more help than usual. He is learning a lot about using an index and being more careful to be sure which word is being used (today he looked up the definition for “constant”, when the word he needed to know was “coefficient” – needless to say, this made him quite confused and led to a very confusing conversation between me and him, before I figured out what the heck he was talking about).

Seattle Great Wheel 1Places we’re going and people we’re seeing… Last week, we did end going to the The Seattle Great Wheel. While it had been overcast at our house, it was clear and sunny, albeit cold, in Seattle. So we enjoyed a spectacular view. The top photo in this post was taken from the ground and is of the Olympic Mountains as seen across the Puget Sound. The second photo in this post is of the Space Needle, which I took from the Ferris Wheel. You can see the Seahawks’ flag was flying on top of the Space Needle, as this was two days before their intensely emotional defeat by the Falcons (I don’t follow sports at all, but even I can’t avoid, but to hear some sports news on occasion). The cars of the Ferris wheel are all enclosed, with heat/AC, kind of like mini-airplanes. Dora, Secunda, and I were the only three to go and none of us minded the height, but if you are at all prone to a fear of heights, it does go up 200 feet high. After the Ferris Wheel, we went for a short stroll on the Seattle Waterfront and Dora enjoyed some cotton candy and a ride on the merry-go-round.

Seattle Waterfront Carousel 4

Finally, we walked over to the aquarium for about an hour. We were all a bit pooped out and I wanted to leave early enough to beat Seattle’s Friday afternoon rush-hour traffic, so we didn’t get to enjoy the aquarium as much as we usually would have. Still, we saw many exhibits, including these sea horses…

Seattle Aquarium 20…and this very active octopus, which I had never seen before and which scared Dora. They had released an octopus last year, so I thought there would no longer be an octopus exhibit, but it sounds like they bring a new one in every year or so and then release it after having it mate on a blind date on Valentine’s Day (I really did not make this stuff up). Anyhoo… whenever I have tried to see the octopus, it always hides in the corner and looks very small and muted to me. This octopus was huge and a brightly colored. It was also moving around a lot. I didn’t get the best photo of the it, as I did not want to use my flash when it was so close to me, since I felt it would hurt its eyes.

Seattle Aquarium 15

My favorite thing this week was… Watching Kiki’s Delivery Service with Dora. One of the older kids started watching it and Dora got really caught up in it. I was quite surprised, but excited, as I am a real fan of Hayao Miyazaki’s films. Unfortunately, most of his movies are a bit too scary for me to allow Dora to watch them, but Kiki’s Delivery Service is a good movie, whose main character is a strong, grounded, and genuinely-kind female role model. Dora watched it a couple of times this week and it was lots of fun to sit with her watching one of my favorite movies and trying to answer all of her questions. 

A photo, video, link, or quote to share… This is the short poem that I read with Dora this week. We have been trying to read poems and sing songs about snow, in hopes of encouraging some snow to appear, but no such luck. This poem comes from an anthology from Wynstones Press, entitled, Winter: A Collection of Poems, Songs and Stories for Young Children.

Whenever a snowflake leaves the sky,
It turns and turns to say goodbye.
"Goodbye, dear cloud, cool and grey."
Then lightly travels on its way.

And when a snowflake finds a tree
"Good day," it says, "good day to thee."
Thou art so bare and lonely here
I'll call my friends to settle near."

- anonymous

Please note my left sidebar for all the awesome link-ups that I am participating in.

Disclosure: Some item links in this post are affiliate links. I will make a small amount of money if you click on them and make a purchase. All opinions expressed, however, are 100% my own.


Labels: Things To Do Around Seattle, Wrapping Up Our Week
Posted by Maureen Sklaroff

Seasonal Field Trips

Gingerbread Lane 4

This year, Dora has been at a wonderfully fun age for enjoying Christmas with. As such, we’ve been going on a ton of fieldtrips. We made our annual trek to Seattle to see some of the seasonal highlights there, starting with the 20th Annual Gingerbread Village, an event which raises money for the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation’s Northwest Chapter. As always, the gingerbread “houses” were amazing! The theme this year is “Once Upon a Time”. The gingerbread castle above is a replica of the castle which the Beast, from Disney’s Beauty and the Beast, lives in.

Gingerbread Lane 5

This is the Brother’s Grimm Castle of Fairytales.

Christmas Tree Display 3

While in Seattle, we also went to the Seattle Festival of Trees, which is hosted at the Fairmont Olympic Hotel. The Festival “raises funds for uncompensated care, which allows Seattle Children’s to provide quality medical care to all children of the Region regardless of a family’s ability to pay.”

Teddy Bear Suite 2

In addition to the Christmas Tree display/auction, the Festival of Tree includes the famous Teddy Bear Suite. This is a hotel suite that has been decked out for Christmas and is full of teddy bears. It makes a great photo-op, but can get really crowded later in the season. I am hoping that one of these years we might just stay at the Fairmont for a night and enjoy the seasonal displays without having to deal with parking, plus partake of their holiday tea while we’re there.

Gingerbread Festival 4

Last weekend, we went to a gingerbread house making workshop, which is a fundraiser for the local Children’s Museum, KidsQuest. If I have it my way, I will never again try to make a gingerbread house outside of these workshops. The houses are pre-assembled, which in itself, is worth the entry fee. They also have tons of candies, cookies, sprinkles, gum, etc. to decorate your house with. Dora decided that she hated the feeling of the frosting, so she nominated herself for dictator. She told us where things were to go, while Secunda and I did all of the actual work (Dora also noted that it was much easier to dictate if she was chowing down on candy at the same time). As you can see here, Dora had a one-track mind, which was saying “when can I get my mouth on that gingerbread house?”.

Reindeer Festival 3

Of course we had to go to the Reindeer Festival at Cougar Mountain Zoo, where we not only were treated to two new baby reindeer (only one shown here, with his mama rolling her eyes at me), but low and behold, we found a fairy house in the Magic Forest! This was a total surprise to us. Dora had just asked me why it was called the Magic Forest and I speculated that maybe fairies lived there or something. All of a sudden, we came around a corner and the fairy house, complete with Christmas tree and lights, was just sitting there. I guess it has been there all this time, bit we never saw it before!

Reindeer Festival 4Dora told everyone how disappointing it was that we never got to see the fairies that lived in this house, though we waited, and waited, and waited (oh yeah, did I mention that we waited?).

Seattle Symphony - Kindermusik Holiday Show

Another fairy-ish-themed event that we attended in Seattle was Dora’s first concert, which was the Kindermusik Symphony Serenade. One of the characters that was part of the show, was the Story Fairy. Dora fell madly in love with the Story Fairy and was crying in the bathroom, because the Story Fairy’s wings were “just so beautiful”. I kid you not!

Three Little Pigs Tickets

An event that we actually attended last month, was Dora’s first play, which was not Christmas themed, but fun nonetheless. She sat through the entire play with no problem. It was a highly-adapted version of The Three Little Pigs. I had planned to buy a CD of the play’s music, but after listening to Dora sing “Piggy Power” all day for several days in a row, I decided that such a purchase was not in my best interests, psychologically speaking.

This weekend, we will be off to ride the Santa Train at the Northwest Railway Museum. This picture is one of the museum’s from several years ago, I only wish we would be greeted by so much snow tomorrow, that would make for a truly memorable affair (in fact, Dora’s memories of Mommy freaking out from driving down the mountain in so much snow, would probably be permanently seared into her brain and result in many hours of future therapy for her).

Labels: Christmas, Things To Do Around Seattle, Winter
Posted by Maureen Sklaroff

The Homeschool Mother’s Journal–The Election Is Finally Over, Thank Goodness!

Making a Calico Corn Necklace 3

In our homeschool this week…Gohan was too sick this week to do any schooling. So Dora got a lot more quality time with me. With the short hours of daylight, these made for some long days. Fortunately, I had a few rabbits to pull our from under my hat. Firstly, we made a calico corn necklace. I read many sets of instructions for making these and I have decided that all appear to have been cut and pasted from one source. None of them tell you how to actually remove the corn from the husks – it ends up that you can just pop them off with your fingers. They all claim that you need to soak the corn in water just over night – after 48 hours, our corn was almost as hard as it was when I first put it in the water, so I finally microwaved the bowl of water and corn for five minutes and the corn softened right up. Then we were able to easily thread the corn with a sewing needle. Dora was even able to do some of it by herself.

Making a Calico Corn Necklace 1

Calico Corn Necklace 2

Places we’re going and people we’re seeing… Dora wanted to go to the Children’s Museum, but since she has turned four, she is no longer allowed to go into her favorite part of our local museum. So we traveled to Everett to renew our membership with the Imagine Children’s Museum. This is one cool museum, it even has a roof top playground to go on, if it happens to stop raining long enough while you are there.

Imagine Children's Museum 2

Imagine Children's Museum 4Imagine Children's Museum 3Imagine Children's Museum 5Imagine Children's Museum 8We also took Secunda’s dog for a hike at Evans Creek Preserve, a new park that just opened in our area. It was very nice to enjoy some of the last sunny days of the season, though the temps were dropping into the mid-40’s.Evans Creek Preserve 1

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Labels: Things To Do Around Seattle, Wrapping Up Our Week
Posted by Maureen Sklaroff

The Homeschool Mother’s Journal–We Finally Make Some Melted Crayon Art

Melted Crayons Bird

In my life this week… it looks like Mr. Mo has a new job. It is at the same large company that he has worked for the last 15 years, but it is a better position on a project that he is passionate about. He hasn’t officially been given the job as his prospective boss has been out of town, but the group has already given him loads of work to do, so we’re taking that as a positive sign that he has the job. Unfortunately, he has to finish up his current project at the same time, so he is being pulled in two directions at once. Were it me in the same situation, I’d probably implode or something, but Mr. Mo handles stress fairly well.

Bird Template

In our homeschool this week… Dora and I did the final vertebrate craft project that I forgot to do last week. This one was about birds. It was one of those melty-crayon projects that was all the rage on Pinterest last spring. I finally just got around to doing one. I cut out a bird template on black cardstock. Then I needed to temporarily affix it to our background paper somehow. I admit that this part of the project temporarily flummoxed me. How does one temporarily attach paper to paper and have a good seal, but not have the adhesive stick out beyond the template? I’m sure there are some wonderful temporary adhesives that I could have gone out and bought, but I did not feel like dealing with that, so I rolled up loops of painter’s tape to make “double-sided” painter’s tape and used that. Were I to do this again, I would get a better temporary sealant.

Bird Template With Painter's Tape for Temporary Adhesion

We then used glue tape to attach unwrapped crayons all around the bird in a rainbow pattern, of course. We opted to use any and all crayons that we don’t use anymore, including broken, soy, and beeswax crayons (beeswax crayons are really hard to melt, so I don’t recommend them). At this point I would like to point out the real reason this is not a good preschooler project, Dora unwrapped one, yes count them, one, crayon and I unwrapped the rest. Unwrapping that many crayons takes forever and leaves tons of crayon wax under your nails!

Bird Template With Crayons Before Melting

We then blow-dried the crayons with our hair dryer on the hottest setting. I know that the people on Pinterest use heat guns, but I don’t have one of those either. The hair dryer worked fine, though it may have taken longer than a heat gun would have (I wouldn’t know, having never used a heat gun and not being really sure what a heat gun is for). Unfortunately, some of the crayon seeped under our bird stencil, which is why I would use a better temporary adhesive, were I to do this again.

Bird Template With Crayons While Melting the Crayons

I am inspired by… Charlotte Mason. Not to sound like a broken record, and no, I am not abandoning Montessori, but after reading Charlotte Mason’s books this week, I took Dora on a nature walk. Dora was not really interested in much and was being a bit whinny. I followed some of Charlotte Mason’s advice and said, “What was that I just heard?” Dora looked at me like I was crazy. So I said, “I think I just heard an interesting bird sound.” Suddenly Dora started really listening to what was going on around us, for the first time in her life! She spent about 15 minutes listening to the various bird calls, none of which I could identify BTW, because I have never made any attempts to learn about nature, until just recently.

Rainy Day Leaves

Places we’re going and people we’re seeing… We did the usual drama, music and co-op classes. We also went on two nature walks. Then today Dora and I went to Remlinger Farms with some great friends (we even got to meet their Grandma, who Dora started calling “Grandma” also). We had a blast at the park and a blast seeing our friends and to top it all off, we got to take home two new pumpkins! Tomorrow, we’re supposed to go on a tour of our local fire station. Plus Secunda is home from college this weekend.

Remlinger Farms 2

Remlinger Farms 1Remlinger Farms 3I’m reading… The Casual Vacancy by J.K. Rowling (wait a minute, did you just do a double take!?!? You should have!). Yes, the book is by the J.K. Rowling of the Harry Potter fame! I’m only on chapter 6, as I just started it, but so far, it is excellent. It is a murder mystery that takes place in an English village. I wouldn’t go so far as to call the book a cozy, as there is a bit too much sex and profanity for that, but it is heading in a cozy-ish direction. It’s definitely a book for adults, not children or tweens (perhaps teens???).

Please note my left sidebar for all the awesome link-ups that I am participating in.

Disclosure: Some item links in this post are affiliate links. I will make a small amount of money if you click on them and make a purchase. All opinions expressed, however, are 100% my own.

Labels: Arts and Crafts, Nature Study, Things To Do Around Seattle, Wrapping Up Our Week
Posted by Maureen Sklaroff

The Homeschool Mother’s Journal–A Week of Bat Guano

In my life this week… I spent a good portion of the week with my hands in bat guano (AKA bat poop). True story! Why in the world would I do that, you ask? Well, I’m glad you asked! This summer has been a very dry summer in the Pacific Northwest. Almost all of the perennials that I planted in the spring were fried, despite my best efforts. I decided that I am getting a bit tired of the vicious cycle of buying new plants every spring and then having them fried every summer. So I decided that I am going to experiment with planting more native-ish seeds in the fall and see if I can’t get my plants to survive heat waves by having more established root systems. Anywhoo… long story short, I really wanted to enrich my soil to improve the chances of my experiment working, so I found some awesome compost that has bat guano, chicken manure, and worm castings (that would be worm poop!) in it. You’d think I would have worn gloves to work with the stuff, wouldn’t ya? Well, a normal person would have and I had the best of intentions, but I just have this thing about working with my bare hands… I guess I feel like I make a better connection with the soil or some other esoteric something or other…. I can’t really explain it. I pretty much only wear gloves to protect myself from prickles and bugs.

Fish Diorama

In our homeschool this week… Dora and I finished up her study of vertebrates this week, by studying fish. We labeled the parts of the fish on a Montessori puzzle, read some fish books, and made this fish diorama by using two painted paper plates and  Saran Wrap for the “window”.

Issaquah Salmon Hatchery 2

Places we’re going and people we’re seeing… On Monday, Gohan had drama and Dora had music class. Tuesday, they both had co-op. Wednesday found us at the Issaquah Salmon Hatchery (that blurry little thing in the photo above was a Coho fry, which was smaller than my pinky and jumping after a tiny little bug – it took 75 photos, shot non-stop, to get this image!). Thursday we attended our first Park Day with our local homeschool group and had a blast. Friday will find Dora and I had a Tiny Tots Symphony concert.

Issaquah Salmon Hatchery 1

Issaquah Salmon Hatchery 3

Issaquah Salmon Hatchery 4My favorite thing this week was… That the weather turned more fall-ish. I know a lot of people have been loving the extended summer that we have been having, but I’ve not been enjoying it at all. I LOVE autumn! It is my absolute favorite season! As is, we lost out on a lot of fall color, due to this wacky weather. A lot of leaves just went straight from green to brown.

What’s working/not working for us… So far, Gohan’s homeschooling is going really well. We’re using Teaching Textbooks Pre-Algebra and I honestly don’t care if some people consider it to be “light”, which I’m not sure if I even agree with, it works for him and that’s what is important.

Charlotte Mason

Questions/thoughts I have… Should I try to incorporate more of a Charlotte Mason approach into Dora’s homeschooling, she clearly learns really well from “living” books, yet there are many aspects of the Charlotte Mason approach that I do not like, such as dictation and memorization, not to mention that we are what would could be considered “secular humanists”.

Needle Felted Pumpkin

Things I’m working on… I’m needle felting some pumpkins, using the wool and directions from Bear Creek Design. So far, so good! Needle felting seems to be a fiber art that I am actually competent at! I find it incredibly relaxing to do in the evenings (especially while playing My Little Ponies!).

I’m grateful for… Mr. Mo, I couldn’t ask for a better husband!

A photo, video, link, or quote to share… Dora grew her own pumpkin this year!

Garden Pumpkin 2

Please note my left sidebar for all the awesome link-ups that I am participating in.

Labels: Arts and Crafts, Science, Things To Do Around Seattle, Wrapping Up Our Week
Posted by Maureen Sklaroff

Visiting the Museum of Flight to See an Aerocar

The Museum of Flight in Seattle 4

If you haven’t noticed, we have been going on a lot of fieldtrips the last couple of week. This is something I do every year, at this time. September is the absolute best time to fit in field trips. The weather is still fine and since school just started, the museums aren’t packed with public school field trips yet. Our most recent trip was to the Museum of Flight in Renton, WA. Our trip was inspired by Dora’s recent interest in cars that can fly. She really didn’t seem to be able to understand why cars can’t fly. The idea of being able to have a vehicle that can easily convert from road travel to air travel does seem like a good idea, on the surface. I wasn’t really interested in teaching her about all of the logistics that make this idea quite difficult, I just thought it would be cool for her to see that people have actually created such a device. The Museum of Flight in Seattle 5

The Museum of Flight has really grown since we last went there! Dora’s favorite part of the place was the “traffic control tower” where you can listen to flight chatter and watch the planes come and go from the small, regional airport (as opposed to SeaTac, which is the big passenger plane airport in our area).

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The museum has a Space Gallery, but Dora was scared of the area, because it was dimly lit.

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The museum has a whole building devoted to the history of early aviation. This building is actually a two-story barn, which is the “historic birth place of the Boeing Airplane Company” (whatever that means).

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The J. Elroy McCaw Personal Courage Wing has two floors dedicated to World War I and World War II fighting planes. Unfortunately Dora was pooped by the time we got to this building, so I really didn’t get to see much, which was disappointing as it was the only part of the main museum that I have never seen.

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Dora is too young for us to have seen everything, such as the movies, Air Force One, etc. but she did see a lot of planes…

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…and enjoyed a lot of the museum’s interactive exhibits.

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What about you? Have you been on any fun field trips recently?

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Labels: Things To Do Around Seattle
Posted by Maureen Sklaroff

Wordless Wednesday–Houghton Beach in September

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Labels: Things To Do Around Seattle, Wordless Wednesday
Posted by Maureen Sklaroff

Homeschooling With Field Trips–Kubota Garden Is Not Haunted!

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I have wanted to go to Kubota Garden for many years now. We actually tried to go once, but it was on Mother’s Day and let me just say, “Do yourself a favor, stay away from gardens on Mother’s Day.” It was so crowded that we left and I kind of forgot about Kubota Garden, until recently, when something reminded me that I wanted to go there. I thought Dora would enjoy going there, so I typed “Kubota Garden” into Google to get the address. Well, imagine my surprise when Google suggested that I try “Kubota Garden haunted”! According to Ghost Hunter’s Guide to Seattle (referring to the Heart Bridge in Kubota Garden):

When walking over this bridge from west to east, sensitive visitors may feel the rush of unseen men running past them as if they are being chased. The sensation is not detected when walking east to west. One psychic described the men as short, dressed in black or dark Asian clothing, and wearing small cloth hats. These spirits are frightened, but they dash across the bridge in silence.

There is no record of civil disturbance taking place in the Kubota Garden. But in the early days of World War II, Japanese living in this neighborhood – including the Kubota family – were rounded up by military police and loaded on trucks destined for internment camps in Idaho. The sadness and horror of that experience may have created an energy vortex isolated at the Heart Bridge.

Obviously, as an educated and enlightened individual, I immediately dismissed this notion with a quick snort of laughter, but still, every time I planned to head out to Kubota Garden, I found myself saying things like, “Oh, it’s too rainy” or “Dora is too tired” and so forth. Then last week, we happened to be exiting the freeway, when right before me was a sign stating that Kubota Garden was 1.5 miles away! Of course, I still went to our intended destination and dilly-dallied there. When all was done, however, I had no excuse, other than irrational paranoia, to not go to Kubota Garden. It was sunny and clear, not too hot, not too cold. In other words, a perfect day to explore a beautiful 20-acre garden!

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Kubota Garden was built by Fujitaro Kubota, an emigrant from the Japanese island of Shikoku. Fujitaro Kubota was a self-taught gardener, who installed many gardens throughout the Seattle area. Originally, Kubota Garden served as his family home, his landscaping business’s office, and his design and display center. Thanks to the Kubota family’s generosity, the garden also served for many years as a center for cultural and social gatherings for the Japanese community in the Seattle area. The garden was abandoned for four years, while the family was interred, but Fujitaro and his sons rebuilt it soon after the war. In 1981, the garden was declared a historical landmark. In 1987, the City of Seattle acquired the garden from the Kubota family. It is currently maintained by gardeners from the Department of Parks and Recreation and many dedicated volunteers.

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Kubota Garden is nothing like the Japanese Garden in the Seattle Arboretum, which completely surprised me. Kubota Garden does not have all the Japanese maple trees that I usually associate with Japanese gardens. Plus, there is much more natural vegetation and winding trails in Kubota Garden. My best guess as to why Kubota Garden is so different, comes directly from the garden’s website,  which states that Fujitaro Kubota “wanted to display the beauty of the Northwest in a Japanese manner”. The site does not say that he wanted to recreate a Japanese garden in the United States, instead he wanted to use Japanese design principles to work with the landscape that is native to the Pacific Northwest.

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Dora and I really enjoyed Kubota Garden. I loved following the smaller trails, which were often hard to find and entailed walking through forest overgrowth which resembled “tree tunnels and caves”. Dora loved jumping over the river stones, playing under the giant wooden umbrella,  and running up and down the Moon Bridge, which symbolizes the difficulty of living a “good life” – “hard to walk up and hard to walk down” (they aren’t kidding about the “hard” part, the bridge looks normal, but when you start to walk up or down it, it is amazingly steep, though not dangerously so).

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I’m also happy to report that, though we crossed over the Heart Bridge in both directions a number of times, we neither saw nor felt any evidence of the garden being haunted!

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Please note my left sidebar for all the awesome link-ups that I am participating in.

Labels: Things To Do Around Seattle
Posted by Maureen Sklaroff