Friday, April 30, 2010

Peace and Fighting

Well, OK, this is a corny title, but I was trying to tie together our day in a witty way. Friday is Field Trip Day, so we took a little outing to the Bellevue Botanical Garden to complement our study of plants. The gardens are really blooming nicely, and make a wonderful walk for little ones.

So many plants are in bloom; we enjoyed viewing different kinds of flowers, and even recognized some that are favorites of ours.

Gabriel especially liked the Japanese Garden section. There is a little stream with some large, flat boulders you can walk on, and flowers blooming in between. It was magical for him, and magical for this Mama to see my child excited about garden design.

The air was cool, with grey clouds floating over occasionally. This park still has some sounds of the freeway, but the large trees and lush undergrowth give a calmness to the mind.

I am grateful we have places like this to go, and grateful we have time to take care of ourselves in this way. Both my kids have been yearning to go hiking, and this Mama is also missing the wilderness. When we can't make it out for a real hike, it is important to be able to get our nature fix in other ways. Everyone was more relaxed and pleasant this afternoon and evening, and the bickering was almost gone.

We ended the day with the Belt Ceremony for Gabriel's Martial Arts class. All the little kids were up on stage for a demonstration of a defensive technique. I was so proud of my little guy. His form has improved in the past few months, and he did really well. It was fun to see the older kids, too, and what Gabriel has to look forward to if he keeps up with the classes.

I also have to brag just a teeny bit about my latest canning adventure - I made rhubarb-orange preserves from the produce we get in our produce box. It is so yummy - but for all the time I spent in the kitchen, I only came out with 2 jars. Everyone is under orders that they must savor this jam - or else!

Friday, April 23, 2010

Field Trip to the Science Center

Fridays are field trip days when we can swing it, and the kids requested a visit to the science center downtown. The weather wasn't very good for outdoor adventures, so I agreed that this was a good idea. The Science Center had an exhibit on traveling to Mars, as well as their regular exhibits.

Rock from Mars

We spent some time with the robotic dinosaurs, watched a live presentation about combustion, and soaked up the warmth in the butterfly house.

The highlight for me was watching an IMAX movie about repairing the Hubble telescope, and the pictures it has been able to take. I can't even explain the wonder and awe I felt watching, in 3D, the universe unfold. Galaxies upon galaxies, billions of stars and systems floating around out there. Words escape me at the moment, but trust me, if you have a chance to see this movie, it is well worth the money.

I'll end this post with some photos I took yesterday in the garden. The sun was so lovely at the end of the day, and things are changing so quickly out there with the warmer weather. Enjoy!

The helebores are making seeds

False Solomon's Seal blooming

I'm looking forward to strawberries in a month or two!

Spider babies in the sun

Spring peas sprouting!!

Thursday, April 22, 2010


A little girl I know turned four on Tuesday. This little girl is charming, funny, bright, inquisitive, joyful, enthusiastic, and has the best snuggles in the house. She is curious about frogs and plants and animals and babies, and really, really wants to learn how to write. She tags along with her brother and picks up some of his Lego skills (such as building spaceships with exploding metal pieces on them, with pink and purple parts included). She is delightful, a comfort to my heart from the beginning.

Four seems like such a milestone birthday this time around. She's not a baby or toddler any more; she even seems like she's moving through the preschool age and some days I think she could be in Kindergarten next year. Yet she still sucks her thumb and needs her Mommy more than any other figure. I am so thankful I get to be home with her every day and help her grow and learn and watch her blossom and discover the world.

On her birthday we went to the preschool room at school while Gabriel had his martial arts class, then we went to Gymnastics for her. We had lunch, then went down to the waterfront and visited a unique little shop called Just Frogs (and Toads Too).

Part rescue center, part gift shop, part educational facility, Just Frogs is run by one passionate and dedicated lady. We got to see and learn about several different kinds of frogs and turtles she had there, and bought some little gifts for our friends. Then we went and bought cake and dinner ingredients, came home and started cooking and decorating. Annika wanted a frog theme for her birthday, but she wanted a strawberry cake, which she helped me make.

We decorated for the close friends who were to join us for dinner, and the kids had a blast playing with all the little plastic frogs we had gotten. A nice dinner (salmon, her choice), a few presents, a yummy cake with to-die-for coconut milk ice cream, and our little four-year-old was satisfied.

Now she's four, and it's hard for it to sink in. I guess I'll get used to it soon enough!

Friday, April 2, 2010

Gabriel's Student Showcase

Gabriel has been taking an amazing art class at our local Homeschool Resource Center. It is feeding his need for learning more about art than I can give him at home. In addition, he usually comes home from the library with books about art and drawing that he reads and learns from at his own pace. I have seen his drawing skills take huge leaps forward in the past few months as he has had the time and inspiration to work on his techniques. Our HRC had a Student Showcase in March, where students could enter art of many different varieties, from traditional pieces to performance art. There were many drawings and paintings of course, but also duct tape fashions, Irish dancing demonstrations, and even a computer game that some friends of ours designed. I was so proud of my son for putting his work out there for the public to see. He chose two of his hand-built pottery items from his Free Form Art class, a needle-felted dragon he made at home, two pencil sketches he completed, and one or two watercolor paintings. It made this sentimental mother's heart swell to see my baby's work displayed for all to see. He was a little disappointed that his art didn't get chosen to go to the Edmonds Art Festival later this spring. I have to confess a part of me was disappointed, too. But we talked about how the important thing was that he loved making art, and he was improving so much lately, and how great it was that he would take the risk and enter his work in the first place. The little guy takes himself so seriously (I'm sure he got that from me - poor kid!). Anyway, I hope you'll indulge me as I show off my son's work from the night of the show.

The needle-felted dragon he made - so sweet! It got a lot of comments.

Gabriel's two clay pieces are in the center - a green and blue pitcher and an orange "Sculpture."
The artist himself in front of two of his pencil sketches - top and bottom left.