Seattle Attractions ~ Homeschool Style

Recently we have been enjoying a visit to Seattle. Although we’ve only had a few short days in the city, we’ve had a wonderful time taking in some of the attractions. The littles thought they were enjoying some school free days, but decided our outings were more like amazing field trips.

Just prior to our trip, I renewed one of our families local community memberships to our science museum. I upgraded to a premium membership and received one years participation to the Association of Children’s Museums reciprocal network benefits, and Association of Science-Technology Centers passport program. This will allow my family free general admission, or reduced admission, at participating museums and center.

Day one of our trip was a crazy day of navigating the city streets by car. After we finally found parking, we spent several hours at the Pacific Science Center. It is a participating center and we received free general admission.  The littles arrived at the center with a greeting by the giant art work of humming flowers. Review of Seattle attractions for kids Once inside, they were overwhelmed with a multitude of hands on activities. From robotic dinosaurs to the working of the human body and so much more, the littles were enthralled. It was a few exhibits into our visit before they were able to slow down long enough to notice and read the displayed educational resources. A tour through the tropical butterfly house was a wonderful adventure as we used a colorful resource sheet to search and identify a number of butterflies and plants. Review of Seattle attractions for kids Day two of our trip began with a wet walk to the Seattle Children’s Museum. I had understood it was covered by my reciprocal membership, but learned they no longer participate in the program. Signage at the museum suggested it was best suited for ages up to 10 years, which felt accurate as Columbo had several occasions of not appearing interested in some of the activities. From an educational perspective I was delighted to see global living displays where the littles could see how homes and businesses could be imagined in other parts of the world. Several areas were display only. Although the littles did enjoy a number of hands on activities, they often felt rushed as the high number of visitors required extra attention to turn taking.   Review of Seattle attractions for kidsDay three of our trip took us to the Museum of Flight. We received free admission for our family. We had a two-hour window between picking up dad at his final day of training, and visiting friends in the area. It was clear we could have enjoy more time at this location. Upon arrival I wasn’t too hopeful the exhibits would hold the littles’ attention for long. I was pleasantly surprised to  see the boys attention drawn to various planes and excitedly read about the history of aviation. A children’s area allowed imaginations to soar as each of  the littles sat in planes, explored an airplane mechanics toolbox and learned about the force of air. This visit has certainly prompted some new reading interests for the boys. Review of Seattle attractions for kidsDay four of our trip was our final day. With the full family together, we set off for Seattle’s waterfront and a trip to the Seattle Aquarium. The aquarium was not covered in our memberships. The littles were really excited about going, and they were not disappointed. There were many tanks of amazing sea creatures. Along with tanks for visually observing sea life, there was also a hands on tide pool area where they were able to touch living creatures. We were especially impressed with the aquarium staff. Although never intrusive, the staff seemed quietly present whenever there was a need or question. Watching a staff diver feeding the underwater animals, in one of the larger tanks, was a highlight of the trip. Review of Seattle attractions for kidsBy days end, we were ready for our own dinner. I’m afraid the littles did not appreciate my humor when I told them we went to the aquarium to meet new friends, and were going to Ivar’s to eat them. Despite the littles choosing burgers and chicken, mom and dad enjoyed fish dinners. Our experience was complete with a seagull….or two. Review of Seattle attractions for kidsWe’ve had a wonderful visit to the Emerald City. We had some wonderful adventures. As we depart, we are thankful for all we saw during our visit. In spite of all our adventures and fun, I can’t help but to think, there’s no place like home.

Posted in Family, Homeschool | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Homeschoolers guide to navigating downtown Seattle

We have taken homeschooling on the road. There is nothing more exciting to this homeschooling mom then finding lessons in life as oppose to a text book. When dad was scheduled to attend training in Seattle, the littles and I were excited to train the house sitter in guinea pig care so we could travel along.

I used to live in the Seattle area, so was especially excited to think I would be introducing the littles to some activities I was familiar with. I wasn’t too concerned with the fact that my residence to the area had been over ten years ago, nor the fact my past trips to the city were infrequent and rarely downtown. How hard could it be, right!?!

IMG_5583

After our arrival and day one of our adventures, I decided a list of “Do’s and Don’ts” might be helpful for anyone hoping to travel to and navigate the city…..

  • Do get a hotel that provides parking! Don’t pay $20 per night for parking only to learn your SUV won’t fit into the parking garage due to the cargo box.
  •  Don’t “wing” your schedule. A well planned trip has great benefits. Know what activities you want to attend, and map them to see how far they are from your hotel.
  • Do walk! Don’t move your car from free street parking because you weren’t sure how many blocks you would be walking, uphill, with kids, in the rain….

Of course you may decide to explore by car with three kids.

  • When you move the car and notice the gas light just came on, do cross two lanes of traffic when you finally see a gas station. Don’t be surprised when other drivers honk at you and mouth “tourist!” as they stare at the cargo box on your SUV.
  • When you finally find your planned destination, and discover parking is no longer $5 per day, but instead significantly more….up to your first born, do try to return to your hotel area for your free parking spot. When you discover there are no open spots, don’t circle the block for an hour while muttering under your breath. I guarantee nobody is going to give up a spot.
  • Do return to the area of your planned activity to find parking. Once you find a lot far enough away you’re not required to sell one of your children, don’t scold yourself about the fact the blocks you have to walk would have been the same as walking from the hotel. If you notice this, praise God you’re not walking uphill.

IMG_5566

  • Do enjoy your children and the activity. When it’s time to return to the car, don’t forget where you parked.
  • Do freak the kids out a little bit searching for the car. If your kids are like mine, you’ve earned the right to mess with them a little bit. Don’t forget what landmark is close to where you parked.

IMG_5586

  • At the end of the day, do tell your husband about all your adventures. Don’t let him laugh harder than you!!

Favorite quote for the day came from Magoo, with a heavy sigh, “Wow, Seattle is busy!”

Posted in Homeschool | Tagged , , , | 1 Comment

Blossoms of Fruit

Spring seems to have finally arrived. The sun is shining and the temperature is slowly rising. The littles have been so excited to be able to play outside, they often forget there is still school work to be completed. Unfortunately school work is not the only thing they have forgotten. Yes, we have been hit with the ever infectious Spring Fever!

I admit I’ve voluntarily given the littles extra time outside. Their store of bottled up winter energy is best spent outside. Unfortunately the explosion of energy has resulted in disagreements and squabbling.

Recently the littles were disagreeing over how three of them would utilize the two favorite swings in our yard. I know this in detail because a very upset Little Bear filled me in on how she was denied her right to swing. She added a bit of her own dramatic flair for impact.

Although my patience was exhausted and I really wanted to raise my voice and tell them to get along, we were in the backyard. I seem to be able to engage restraint more quickly when I think the neighbors might hear. I chose instead to call the littles together for a quiet discussion about turn taking and treating each other with kindness. I attempted to remind them, and myself, of the fruits of the spirit being kindness, patience, self-control…. Magoo was quick to interrupt me and rattled off the fruits of the spirit as quickly as he could. He proudly smiled at how he knew them all and could say them quickly. I gently pointed to his head and told him I was pleased that he knew them there. I pointed to his heart and asked him if he understood there. A shrug, a smile, and Magoo told his sister she could have his turn on the swing.

The littles have created an unusual game, that I dare say is not fully mother approved. When one or two of them are swinging, the third will sometimes get a soccer ball and roll it on the ground for the swinger to kick. With only two swings, and Magoo feeling too confident in his ability to exercise the fruits of the spirit, he was quick to grab the ball and be the roller. There was much laughter and kicking among the littles as I cautiously watched. When the ball was missed, Magoo went behind the swing to get it. Unfortunately, as Columbo swung back and tucked his legs to pump higher, his foot came into contact with the side of Magoo’s head. A moment’s pause, an angry cry, and Columbo was struck in the side of his head by a well-aimed ball.

I knew the neighbors couldn’t miss the drama unfolding in our backyard. Columbo loudly declared his innocence and pain while slowly shuffling from the back of the yard and into the house. Little Bear quietly went inside looking thankful that it wasn’t her. Magoo angrily held his head and insisted he was a victim of an intentional offense.

Teach children not to harbor wrong attitudes toward others

When all injuries were attended, I reasoned with Magoo that his being struck was the fault of his being too close to someone swinging. He knew I was right, but insisted he was just too angry. I gently asked him if that was self-control. I explained to him that it is human nature to become angry after being hurt. What we do with that anger is our choice. Although Magoo and Columbo  eventually extended apologies and words of forgiveness, I was sure there were more teachable moments in this experience.

It was a few days later, during our devotion time, we were discussing how we should live as Christians.

But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, purifies us from all sin. 1 John 1:7

Knowing that we are all sinners, the littles expressed concern at how we could walk in the light. I suggested we begin with forgiveness.

Tolerating a wrong attitude toward another person causes you to follow the spirit of the devil, no matter how saintly you are. One carnal judgment of another person only serves the purposes of hell in you. Bring it immediately into the light and confess…….if you don’t, your heart will become hardened through and through. ~My Utmost for His Highest, Oswald Chambers

Initially the littles insisted they did not harbor unforgiveness toward anyone. As I reflected back on the incident from the few days prior, hurts began to flair. Although they had dutifully gone through the steps of apologies and spoke the words of forgiveness, they were tolerating wrong attitudes.

There was much discussion before the boys were ready to go before the Lord. When they did, they chose to pray independently. Each acknowledging they had not been aware they were still holding onto hurt and unforgiveness, and this concerned them. We agreed to make a regular prayer time, at least weekly, to ask the Lord to search our hearts.

As laughter again fills my home, and backyard, I am thankful. Although there is still the occasional disagreement, I see the blossoms of fruit in the hearts of the littles.

Posted in family & parenting | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Oil Pulling Behind Closed Curtains

Several of my facebook friends have recently been posting about Oil Pulling. Not knowing what it was I sat quietly behind my computer, like a stalker, and waited for an explanation. As information unfolded, I understood they were considering sloshing straight coconut oil around in their mouths for a prolonged period, in an effort to pull bacteria from their mouths and thus whiten their teeth.

I had hopes my friends were going to offer a miracle idea on teeth whitening, but instead I was pretty sure they had lost it. My hopes were based on the reality I am a dentists worst nightmare. I drink coffee, black teas, and if I have a glass of wine it’s going to be red. I do brush twice a day, but have been known to skip that loathsome task of flossing. I’m also way overdue for a dental cleaning.

I couldn’t shake the idea. The more I considered the process of oil pulling, the more I was intrigued. It sounded like one of those strange things my grandma might have done. You know, before some genius invented dental floss. Given we just began researching and experimenting with essential oils, I decided it had to be too strange for someone to have made up. Of course I didn’t tell anyone I was going to try it. I didn’t want them to think I was crazy!

One morning a couple of weeks ago, after my husband left for work, I took the plunge. With all the curtains drawn tightly, I tiptoed  past the rooms of the sleeping children and into the kitchen. I located the coconut oil and took out a teaspoon sized scoop. Figuring I would gag the minute it hit my tongue, I willed myself to leave it in my mouth for at least 30 seconds. Watching the second hand tick by on the clock…..and watching it some more…..I stuck the spoon into my mouth. Okay, did I ever mention I have texture issues? Given the oil begins as a solid and slowly melts, 30 seconds is a really long time.

Fortunately the oil was a liquid in less than 30 seconds. There was really not much of a flavor. It kind of felt like sloshing water around in my mouth. I set the timer for 20 minutes, and picked up my morning devotional reading. A couple of paragraphs and I paused my sloshing to consider what I just read. Natural reflex kicked in and I ALMOST SWALLOWED.  Gross!!! I put down the book and began sloshing…vigorously!

I had no idea that 20 minutes would feel so long, so I turned on the computer. Although I knew the web cam couldn’t possibly be on, I still turned it to face the wall. A little scrolling through facebook, and the timer thankfully went off. I almost spit the oil down the drain, but opted for the garbage when considering that it would probably turn back into a solid. Although the garbage wasn’t full, I emptied it. Whew! Yep, nobody will think I’m crazy…..

I did this two days in a row. By day three I stopped and asked myself “What on earth am I doing?!?” I had absolutely no scientific evidence that I was doing anything medically beneficial. So, on the evening of day three I approached my husband. Given he’s in the medical field there was a slight possibility he might have some knowledge I lack. I asked him simply, “So, have you heard of oil pulling? Some of my friends have been posting about it.”

Not only had my husband heard of oil pulling, but he went on to tell me he had tried it. He explained he’d heard of it years ago and thought it was crazy enough to work, so he tried it with olive oil. He insisted olive oil was so nasty he couldn’t stand it past two days. By the face he made at the memory, all these years later, I believe him! For the record, let me just say I did not laugh…..outwardly….at first. When he seemed interested in my suggestion of coconut oil, I did confess that I had tried it.

What is a crazy couple to do when they need scientific validation for an outrageous idea? Go to the internet of course. We were not disappointed. Dr. Mercola had written an article on how coconut oil might combat tooth decay, and specifically mentioned the technique of Oil Pulling. Although he didn’t mention olive oil as an alternative to coconut, he did say that sesame oil was traditionally recommended. I was further delighted to confirm:

You should not swallow the oil because it’s loaded with bacteria and toxins.

The article overall confirmed that oil pulling is a technique that can be used to reduce plaque and remove bacteria and toxins from your mouth. Dr. Mercola recommended coconut oil for the oil pulling technique, and cited various potential health benefits.

Oil pulling may sound crazy, but it's a valid technique

As for me, I am continuing the oil pulling with coconut oil. I begin my morning by sloshing a teaspoon full for 15 minutes. I do not read my morning devotional during that time, nor anything else that requires paused consideration. Once my sloshing time is done, I spit the oil out in the garbage and rinse with warm water.

I haven’t noticed significant change in the whitening of my teeth, but I haven’t given up coffee or black teas either. Overall I hope my hygienist will rest easy knowing I am working to improve my oral health. When I do catch up on that delinquent cleaning appointment, I hope she notices my efforts. I further hope she does not inquire if I’ve remembered to floss daily. Daily? What does that really mean? Do you think she’s counting weekends?

Posted in Health & Fitness | Tagged , | 2 Comments

Busy Bags for Busy Little Bear

Getting through a school day, and maintaining harmony, can often prove challenging.  Add in a busy preschooler who becomes under-challenged, and chaos often ensues. That was the scene at my house last week.

Regardless of the many activities I rotate through Little Bear’s work boxes, she was in need of some new busy bags. Preschool busy bags All over Pinterest I’ve seen these easy to make velcro craft sticks. Just add velcro dots to the ends. They are great for making shapes, letters and so much more. When I moved on to make my next project, Columbo and Magoo were using them to make a lego launching catapult. Proving busy bags are not just for preschoolers.

Preschool busy bags While shopping at Hobby Lobby I was thrilled to find everything Easter was on sale. Using mini plastic eggs and a permanent marker, I made an upper and lower case letter matching activity. I had to buy two packages to account for every letter in the alphabet. I was considering other egg-citing activities for the remainder of the eggs, but I think they are small enough to launch well on a craft stick catapult. I’m sure the boys will be happy to test my theory.  Preschool busy bags Little Bear loves to watch me embroidery and often asks for something to sew. Rubber grip padding make greats material for preschool needlework. I set padding in a couple of hoops and added a plastic craft needle pre-threaded with yarn. On one pad I wrote some letters and numbers so she can “embroidery” like mom.  Preschool busy bagsI found several large sheets of plastic canvas on my project shelf. The littles had admired canvas craft creations at the fair last fall, and wanted to learn. I’ve not used it before, but I’m sure a quick trip to the library will help. In the mean time, I cut the sheets into smaller sizes and drew some shapes for them to sew. With a plastic needle and yarn they can practice a cross stitch. Preschool busy bagsAlthough Little Bear knows how to button, it never hurts to keep practicing fine motor skills. From a stash of colorful felt, an old ribbon and an extra button, I made a stringing activity. I sewed the button on one end of the ribbon and a square piece of felt on the other. I’m hoping the colors and shapes of the activity will keep her attention. IMG_5517  My favorite activity does not fit into a bag. While at the thrift store I found felt nursery rhyme pieces. Using a small table top felt board that goes with our bible story felt set, Little Bear can retell many of the nursery rhymes that we’ve read. IMG_5518 A busy preschooler will always provide energy and challenge to a homeschool classroom. I’m hopeful the added activities will bring a little order back to our day.

Posted in Homeschool | Tagged , , , | 4 Comments

Choosing to Honor

This weekend, I was so excited about a project my husband was teaching the boys, I had to take pictures.

Are you making a choice to honor your husband?

Are you making a choice to honor your husband?

No, they are not about to remodel the vintage blue bathroom. These are after pictures. They were taken after my husband taught the boys how to clean the bathroom.

I usually clean the bathrooms. I did not ask my husband to clean them, nor did I anticipate he would choose to spend a Sunday afternoon teaching his sons to clean. The fact is, he did it. More importantly, I let him.

Do you ever correct your husband? When he fills the dishwasher, do you go behind him and move things around the right way? If he does the laundry, do you resort it, or refold it the right way? Okay, here’s the big one….If he dresses the kids, do you change them or tell him the items he selected didn’t match?

Someone please say “yes!” to this or some other correction you know you do. I know I’ve done it. I can be a little obsessive about how I like things done, so it can be an internal battle to just be thankful for the help. Do you know that our correction of our husbands is sin?

However, each one of you also must love his wife as he loves himself, and the wife must respect her husband. Ephesians 5:33

Not only does our correction of our husbands disrespect them, but it causes them not to want to help.

Although I used to think my husband was oblivious to details I found important, I learned that was not completely true. Last summer Little Bear began a Saturday morning with an outrageous combination of clothing. I chuckled to myself, but praised her for getting herself dressed and assured her she was beautiful. Later, as my husband prepared to take the littles along to the hardware store, he asked if I could get her changed while he made his shopping list. To my question if they were going to more than the hardware store, he explained, “If you were taking her shopping people would think she dressed herself and that it’s cute. When I take her shopping they will think I dressed her.”

My husband is aware that we do things differently. He even explained that to the boys as he was teaching them to clean. He further informed them to follow whatever future instructions I might give them regarding cleaning, even if it was different then how he did it.

When the guys were done, I was full of thanks and praise. They even cleaned the toilet, so how could I not be overjoyed!?! If you’re wondering if they cleaned to my standards, I can honestly say I didn’t notice.

Are you making a choice to honor your husband?

Honoring my husband is a choice. I have to choose if it is more important to appreciate his help or if I’m going to complain about his efforts.

The wise woman builds her house, but with her own hands the foolish one tears hers down. Proverbs 14:1

Are you building your house?

Posted in Family, family & parenting | Tagged , , | 7 Comments

Valentine Lessons In Love

Valentines Day is not a holiday I have ever given much attention. I’ve always felt we should show love everyday, and never saw the need for a big commercial fuss one day per year.

As the date approached I began to plan for the usual tasks of baking heart shaped cookies and making a valentine themed craft with the littles. As I scanned through pinterest I came across an idea that inspired me for a lesson on love.

Over my years of motherhood, I have come to recognize boys don’t naturally exhibit displays of love. Oh they would argue. They are happy to dole out an occasional punch in the arm, witty insult, elbow jab to the ribs or a hug so tight I fear a bone will break. Although that may be fine and good for the boys, Little Bear and I are failing to feel the love.

This week we talked about love languages. This was a familiar topic and the littles were quick to recall what they knew from a prior reading of A Perfect Pet for Peyton. We read 1 Corinthians 13, followed by creating our own list of what they understood love meant.

Their assignment for the week was to write a daily message for each sibling of why they loved them. I provided them with heart shaped paper and direction to leave the messages on their siblings’ doors. Although Little Bear was delighted, the boys were initially skeptical.

Teach siblings to communicate love by having them leave a daily note of why they love their brother or sister

A couple of days into the week, and seeing the number of hearts growing on the doors, love began to abound. As the boys read the messages they received they beamed. They became much more excited to come up with words we girls found approving, and began leaving messages on mom and dads door as well.

Teach siblings to communicate love by having them leave a daily note of why they love their brother or sister

Learning to communicate love is vital in friendships, family relationships and marriages. I believe families are built by God, and the selection of each member is no accident. As a family we are learning together how to love and be loved. We are responsible to love each other, every day of the year.

Love never fails…1 Cor. 13:8a

Discover your love language, or that of you child, at 5 Love Languages.

Posted in family & parenting, Homeschool | Tagged , , , , | 4 Comments