Monday, May 30, 2016

Salve Porcae Parvae

I don't know if I spelled that title right for this blog entry.  Cause I don't study Latin,  But my 5th grader took a super fun latin class at the co-op this year and she loved it!  Apparently, the title means "Hello Small Pig" which I found to be amusing. It's a line from their skit they did the last day of class about the three little pigs.  Photos and video below.

She also got to make this really cool Clue game in Latin.

I was a bit surprised when she asked me if she could sign up for Intermediate latin next year.  But hey!  She likes it so let's run with that.

Thursday, May 26, 2016

Family Field Trip Part 3: Mt. Rainier Scenic Railway

Our last stop before heading home was the Mt. Rainier Scenic Railway.  It was fun, but a little disappointing.  We all had visions of climbing up the steep side of a mountain with majestic views from the top.

Nothing of the sort.

It's a bumpy 20 minute ride each way with a 40 minute break in between so you can get off and spend money at the local coffee stand or gift shop.  That's about it.  There were some pretty views, but we didn't gain any elevation at all. It was flat the whole way.  We went over teh river and saw some pretty foliage but that was it.

The most disappointing part is that there weren't even any trail heads near by. We thought we'd have a chance to hike the mountain while we were there.. Nope.  You get on the train way out in the middle of no where and then ride into a po dunk town of Elbe.  You can't even see Mt. Rainier from where we were, at least not that I was aware of.  Bummer.  We'll have to go back and do Mt. Rainier again.

BUT, it was still enjoyable. I just wish our expectations had been lowered and that we knew what to expect.  There was a cool little museum set up where you board the train.  And it was fun to be inside of a real old train from the early 1900s.  It was a fun experience.  I just wish it had been a bit more eventful.

You could move back and forth between the different cars.  It was a wiggly, bumpy journey from one end of teh train to the other.

This is a super tiny church that still holds meetings once a month in the summer time.  I think it is Lutherine.  The plaque says that the preacher still shows up for meetings on his bicycle, as is the tradition.

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Skin Model

I am so glad that I switched our 5th grader over to new curriculum midway this year. She is really, really enjoying her work with Moving Beyond the Page.  It is the kind of learning we both love: Lots of living books and hands on projects.

Here is yet another project from her Human Body unit

She finished up her units on Lincoln. state government, and a Wrinkle in Time.  So I went ahead and bought her another literature unit to get her through the end of the school year and it is all about American Tall Tales.

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Family Field Trip Part 2- NorthWest Trek

After our tour of the state capitol we drove on over to Eatonville at spent some time at the North West Trek.  The weather wasn't fabulous, and a lot of the animals in the enclosures were hard to view.  But the tour on the tram was pretty cool.  We saw moose, bison, mountain goats, rams, trumpet swans, and learned a lot about the habitats they enjoy.
Poor Baby really needed a good nap!

Sneak a peak of the mama black bear in the background!


Baby Bison!!

We were told to speak softly as we went by the one-week-old bison as they are skittish and frighten easily.  Who knew?

After some dinner at the Mongolian grill, the kids were eager to check in to our hotel room and hit the pool.  Meet Lizzy, our friendly pool pal.  It was challenging to have all seven of us in one hotel room, especially after baby wanted to go to bed at 8pm.  I had to shoo the kids down to the lobby to hang out.  Ugh.  But we had a fun time!  The kids loved staying in the hotel and eating the breakfast in the morning.   That might have been the best part of the trip for them.

Monday, May 23, 2016

Family Field Trip Part 1: WA State Capitol

This past week we took a 2-day field trip  a little farther south in WA.  Our itinerary included a tour of the state capitol, a trip to NorthWest Trek, and a ride on the Mount Rainier Scenic Railroad.

For years I have wanted to take teh kids to see the capitol building but the 90 minute drive, the traffic, the napping child, and the whole bit just seemed overwhelming on my own.  But my husband had taken time off to do this trip with us.  So this was it! Finally after 10 years in WA we got a chance to visit the capitol.  It's a beautiful buidling.

Of course the traffic was horrid and we thought we were going to be late.  But we pulled up to the legislataive building just a few minutes before the tour was supposed to start.  They start every hour on the hour, but becasue I had planned to spend the afternoon at NW trek I wanted to make sure we hit the 11 am tour .

And we did!  We showed up huffing and puffing! But we made it for the 11 AM tour.

This is where the governor sits to sign bills into law
The curtains in this room (above) are embroidered with real gold thread. Ooo, la la.

This is the state seal.  We learned that visitors used to walk over poor George's nose so often that it began to wear off, so now he is protected with ropes.   There are 39 counties in WA and each is represented by a flag  in teh capitol building.  I didn't know our county even had a flag.  Here's some cool info on our county's flag.

This is the house of representatives' chamber.  It was nice and cool in there. Very elegant.  It was at this point that our tour guide asked me to leave because my happy little baby was cooing, much to her discontent.  :(

Our state capitol has the fifth highest rotunda in the nation.  The light fixtures through out the building were all made at Tiffany's in New York.  This light fixture is large enough to hold a VW bug inside of it!!!  WOW. During the last earth quake it swung from this enormous chain for three days .  Yikes.

After the tour we had to hit the gift shop, of course.  It was lunch time and the chocolate was calling to us.  After we got back to the car I realized I had left the keys in the bathroom! Ugh!  I had to run back and locate them in the lost and found.  Some how I didn't mind running back so much.  Since I got my new fitbit for mother's day, I loe seeing my footstep tally go higher and higher.  So dumb! Yet so effective!  It really does motivate me to move more.  oh well.

So it was a really fun tour and we all learned a lot and enjoyed the beautiful building.  The only thing I didn't like was just exactly how regal it all seemed.  Everything from the commissioned portraits of each governor to the gold thread in the curtains and the marble that coated every felt like a palace and smacked of royalty.  It almost seems unAmerican to have such regal settings for our elected officials that WE pay for.  Not that anything will change....

Anyway, we had a fun start to our trip.

Sunday, May 22, 2016

National Geographic Field Trip

As much as I complain about living near a big city and as much as I detest the "progressive" politics in Seattle, I have to admit that sometimes this city offers really cool perks.  It's nice to have access to lots of resources and opportunities.

Example: Last Tuesday we gathered some friends together and headed out to Benaroya Hall again in Seattle to listen to a lecturer from National Geographic discuss his underwater photography adventures.

It was one in a series of events offered by National Geographic.  More info on that here:

It was a gorgeous spring day!  Sometimes the weather here is beautiful.  It doesn't actually rain every day. Believe it or not.  Another bonus: I survived the traffic in and we met up with the group without losing anyone.  :)

Benaroya Hall is a beautiful venue right in the heart of downtown.

There were lots of buses! Lots of school kids.  Lots of noise!

The speaker was fabulous and his pictures were breathtaking.  Really cool.   Wish that I had been able to stay for more than 7 minutes of it, but that's about how long it took before baby was too noisy to stick around and I had to head out.

I was soon followed by other moms in our group who had little ones along that day.   This is how it goes when you homeschool.  You want the older kids to have opportunities that the youngers are not quite ready for .  It's a constant back and forth.  It is a  real balancing act trying to meet the needs of kids that vary in age from 9 months to 13.  Anyway, we're all learning to give and take.

This is part of our crew getting a seat in a very boisterous auditorium.

There were 5 families and this many kids!  Plus two more that were not in the picture.

So there you go.  Another piece of my love-hate relationship with Seattle.

Wednesday, May 11, 2016

Just Want Privacy. Please Watch

When I discovered (through my own inquisitions) that our YMCA was allowing men into the women's locker room, I immediately pulled my kids out of all programs there and cancelled our membership.  I didn't want to risk their safety,  EVER.

After watching the video below, I know I have made the right choice to withdraw my patronage and financial support from the YMCA.   And I am so very, very thankful that my children are not in public schools where the privacy of their most intimate personal habits and hygiene no longer matter. I would encourage everyone to watch the video below.  All of it. The last speaker of the video will surprise you.

If you are inclined, please share the video and consider volunteering to gather signatures to over turn this hideous law.  I've decided I will be part of the solution and gather signatures.  

Please visit for more information.

Sunday, May 8, 2016

Six Sweet Souls

Mother's Day 2016.

Mother's Day just isn't quite the same since Hazel died.  It's always bitter sweet.  I'm so grateful to have these five here with me. Each of them is a dream come true. As they grow I love watching their personalities and talents begin to manifest.  They are each so unique.  I love that.  I feel honored that I have been entrusted with these sweet souls.  My family made this day so beautiful and lovely for me.

But I missed Hazel today.  We often notice Hazel's absence. I can't really explain it.  But when we are all together we still feel like someone is missing.  It's our Hazel.  We miss her. I wish I could tell you how much I long for a picture of all six of the kids together.  For now, this is as close as we can get to having all six of them in one picture.

Losing Hazel was the hardest thing I've ever experienced.  But I finally realized a truth that has made it easier to bear and it is this:  Even if I had known that she would not stay with us long, I still would have offered to be her mother.  I still would have done it. Because I know that motherhood doesn't end here.  I will get to Mother her later, in a better way and in a better place. And the wait will have been worth it.   Every excruciating moment of this journey will be so worth it. So until then I'm working on being patient.

Saturday, May 7, 2016

Such a Nice Day

We get lots of gray rainy days around here.  When the sun is out we feel lucky and grateful!  And when the sun is out on a Saturday we feel like we won the lottery!  That's why I get so frustrated when beautiful Saturdays, few as they are, get swallowed up by to-do lists and busy weekend tasks.

We were headed in that direction today and I kept saying to the kids, "It's such a nice day, go out and do something!"  But then the Hubs and I were busy with things and couldn't really direct their activity much.

There was a lull at 3 pm.  Finally.  So I quickly packed up the kids and we took our raft to a little lake that's just about 5 minutes away.  We paddled.  Well, they paddled.  I had the baby strapped to me so I  didn't feel safe getting in with her.  I had to just trust them to get out there , be safe, have fun and make it back to shore without drifting away.

They did really well. And we mostly had fun  (you know how it can go, right?)  Course, a little Jamba Juice at the end goes a long way toward adding to the fun.  :)

It really was such a nice day. I'm glad we got out for a few hours anyway to enjoy the sunshine.

7th grader wasn't there. She spent her day as I imagine most 13-year-old girls would like: Visiting the mall and going to friends' houses.  We missed her.

Wednesday, May 4, 2016

Homeschool Band

Band is a favorite for both of the older girls.  They love it!  7th Grader is finishing up her first year in Intermediate Band on trumpet.  One of their songs this year was Mission Impossible and it sounded awesome!
5th Grader is finishing up Beginning band on the clarinet. They played Star Wars and We Are Young as part of their performance this spring.

Next year they will both be in intermediate band together.  That should be fun!

Loved watching them enjoy their music, their friends and their developing skills!

Digestive System Demo

Here's one way of thinking about how it all goes down....

Sunday, May 1, 2016

Goodbye Mr. Raven

Last Tuesday we received an unexpected email from the board of our homeschool co-op with some very sad news.  Our beloved science teacher, Mr. Brian Raven, had passed away suddenly at his home.

We saw him just last Monday.  He said he had not slept at all the night before.  He felt unable to teach and was going to take a nap in his truck.  I saw him heading out to the truck. He was in the wheel chair he had recently started using.  He died the next day.

For years, Mr. Raven has been a fixture in science education for every age and grade in this area.  His absence leaves a huge void in homeschool education as he taught in multiple homeschool co-ops.  He was such a blessing and a wealth of knowledge.  The kids loved him.  He was everybody's favorite teacher. 

More about him and the classes he taught here

As a parent, I appreciated Mr. Raven because he brought an enthusiasm and depth of knowledge to science that I could not. I love science, but it is not my life work.  So it was wonderful to have that time with him.  We came across Mr. Raven not long after the death of our baby girl, Hazel, in 2014.  I was so grateful for his jolly, good natured ways.  He was able to put smiles on my kids' faces when I could not. He could lighten a burden with his wit and jest.  He kept the kids laughing and learning at all times.

One of the unique things about Mr. Raven's teaching is that he gave each of his students a nickname.  My son was nicknamed Finch.  Everyone at co-op calls him Finch.  My daughter was nick named Jaguar.  They love their nicknames.

Today we attended a memorial at the beach side to remember his years of teaching and the impact he had on his students' lives.  It was heart warming to see the loving and joyful memories these students have carried with them over the years.  Many of the students are in college now, studying science, or even older and have jobs in scientific fields.

It was a beautiful day at the beach.  This is my view of the gathering from a distance where I had to sit in the shade for a moment to nurse the baby

The students had a chance to speak to the group about how they got their nick name from Mr. Raven and what their favorite memories of him were.

This is our daughter, "Jaguar", sharing her story and her memories.  So proud of her for getting up to share.

This is a sweet note my little "Finch" wrote to Mr. Raven.  I hope Mr. Raven's mother will enjoy reading it.  Many students wrote notes and letters to his family telling of their love for Mr. Raven and his influence.

Sometimes, you don't value the people in your life until they are gone.  I think I took Mr. Raven for granted.  And sometimes I was even annoyed that he occasionally cancelled a class I had paid for because he was unwell.  I would pay a whole lot more now to have him back again, teaching science and igniting a love of learning in my kids

Having experienced death on a much more personal level recently, I find that my attitude towards the loss of a friend is quite different than it might otherwise be.  I am happy for Brian's release.  He's out of pain, he's at peace.  He is well.  And won't it be so fun to see him again?  And wow, think of all the things HE is learning now. The teacher must become a student for a time and learn things he never dreamed of.  The scientist in him must be LOVING  it!

I recently bought a plaque that now hangs over my baby's changing table.  It reminds me that the little hole in my heart that only Hazel can fill will not be there forever.  Here's what it says

"Good byes are not forever.  Good byes are not the end. It simply means I'll miss you until we meet again."

Until we meet again Mr. Raven.

Mr Raven's YouTUbe Channel