Helping others

When Siena and Lucas were really little, we asked our friends not to bring gifts to our birthdays.  After that, they decide on their own what they wanted to do for their birthdays.

Siena on her fifth birthday wanted to do a Giant Panda themed party and she decided to ask her friends to not bring her presents, but instead help her with a donation to the World Wildlife Fund to help the Pandas.  She was so excited about being able to do that.

That year we went to San Diego to celebrate Siena’s birthday to see the newly born Giant Panda at the San Diego Zoo.  We had been watching for weeks, each day, on the webcam online how the tiny Panda was growing.  We read each observation made by the caretakers and zoo staff.  Lucas was 1 1/2 years old then, so he says he doesn’t remember much of this trip and he’s asking to go back and see it again, because it was such a fun trip for all of us.

Last year Siena wanted to have another Panda birthday.  Her love for this cute animal is incredible and I can see us going to China someday to see them in person.  I hope we do one day.  And hopefully we’ll be able to see them and find them in nature as their number increases.  We can only hope and help in our small ways to help them get off the endangered list some day.

Now that we’ve been back from our stay in India, Siena has been wanting to do something so she can donate more money to WWF.  She’s thinking and looking everywhere.  She doesn’t really know what to do yet.  She’s been talking to friends and Lucas in having a hot chocolate stand, and wait on the lemonade, for these not so hot days.  I wonder if a coffee stand would go well too…

We’ve been learning a little about China and Giant Pandas.  We are reading lots of books and trying to see ways we can help.  Siena’s dilemma for a while now has been ways she can interest people with more money to donate and help her with the Panda’s conservation.  She’s trying to figure out how she can reach them and help towards her cause.  I can’t believe she’s been thinking in this bigger picture.

Few days ago I saw her browsing through some books looking for a project.  She picked up Craft Hope.  Looked at it and came to me asking if we could do one of the dolls they have there to help one the organization featured in the book.  I think we’ll be visiting their blog more often and getting more involved.  I have a little girl who wants to help make the world a little better for everyone.

With cold weather right now, Siena and Lucas were outside already making money for their donation:

They started their new collection to help penguins and  pandas.

With an extra day this year, they might be already ahead!

If anybody out there has some ideas on how we can help this little girl of mine help make money for her dear Pandas, (or Lucas’s penguins) or reach more people to help her in this challenge, we’d appreciate it.  We are always open to trying new things. Thanks!

Hope the extra day we get this month is a good one!

Making : Valentines + cake + more

We’ve been making lots of things lately. I don’t know if it’s the time of the year, the weather, or having missed the pre-holiday making by being in India and getting ready to travel back home.  Or maybe it’s all of it.  But I think for us has been that now we are home with all of our tools and supplies and we are excited we can make things any time we want to!

I finished a project I’ve had since last year.

Photo by Siena
Photo by Siena

With my new found friend, Pinterest, I’ve been pinning and enjoying seeing my boards where we can get lots of ideas from.

We loved this garland so much from this blog we had to make our own!

I got this idea from here.

Siena took a cake decorating class.


We tried it and it was shared with our friends and neighbors because it looked so good. And what were we going to do with a whole cake for President’s Day?

It seems that it has been Valentine’s for a long time.  But who doesn’t need hearts around the house?

And I didn’t get a picture of those hearts in the refrigerator and a couple of other places.  It was fun!

We don’t usually celebrate Valentine’s, but we got together with some friends, had a nice lunch, some cookies and played for a long time.

And made few Valentine’s. These are Lucas’s.

These are Siena’s.  Then in the evening, we opened our Valentine’s boxes.

Each year,  for few days previous to Valentine’s, we write little love notes to each other and put them inside our boxes.  Notes to say why we love each other.  (We do something similar for Thanksgiving and put the leaves into a small bowl or make it into a Thankful Tree.)  This time, we write reasons we love each other.   They make such a beautiful little notes!

And we read them that night.  A great way to end the day.

Agate Beach : Newport, Oregon

After the Aquarium, we stopped at one more beach before coming home.

Agate Beach, in Newport.

We looked for agates, and only found a couple of small ones.

And a ladybug.

We crossed the (freezing!) creek to get to the ocean.

It was low tide and just few days before, it had been full moon.   I’m not sure, but it seemed like we had miles, miles! of beach.

I wish we had more time to hang out here.

We had lots of fun.  We had another beautiful day.

I hadn’t been here either.  We almost missed the trail, and we would have ended up at the next lighthouse, Yaquina Bay, which would have been OK too.  Maybe next trip.

A visit to the Aquarium

On our way back from the beach, we stopped at the Aquarium in Newport.  It’s fun to see how our interests and how our trips change each time.  It is a real hands on science lesson!

We had been here just over a year ago, and it was fun to go back.

For a while, when it was just Siena and us, Mark was working with some folks at Oregon State University and got to spend few weekends in Corvallis one year.  While Mark worked, Siena and I would head to the Aquarium for the day.  She loved seeing the sharks, but the most fun we had, was watching a diver clean the tanks, where all the fish and sharks are.  We would just sit there for a long time. Watching.

With Lucas the past two visits, he also loved that same shark tank, but we haven’t seen the divers swimming in there yet.  Maybe next time.

These flatfishes were fun to watch.  They camouflage really good even on a flat, sandy bottom.  They change colors when they go from the lighter sandy bottom to the more muddy darker side.


These are sea pens.  They act like one organism but they are a polyps, a group of tiny organisms, a colony.  Some polyps trap food as others move water in and out of the colony.  When the sea pen feels threatened, they let the water out and they retreat to the bottom, the foot of the colony, hiding, until the threat is over and comes back out to feed again.

Coon-stripe shrimp.

Kelp greenling.

Photo by Lucas

The inside of the abalone, mother of pearl.

Sea urchins.

Photo by Lucas

Not a great photo, but the volunteer working on this station showed us with a  little light bulb behind this sea urchin‘s shell (without the needles) the pattern of where the needles are positioned, and how much they are alike with sand dollars.  I’ve always loved sea urchins.

Plumose anemone.

Strawberry anemone.

Textured anemone.

I think they are crazy looking, wild and just so beautiful!


Being there was better than any book or video we’ve seen.  I love it.

Grunt sculpin.

Photo by Siena


We did have a beautiful spring-like day.  With both kinds of Oregon sunshine!

One of the double windows in this outdoor exhibit was broken and it had a beautiful pattern.  But the Aquarium is waiting to have enough money to replace it.  For now, it’s an added visual.

Great Blue Heron.


A great visit.  Not sure if today we’ll have some Oregon sunshine like this day at the Aquarium, but I’m OK with a little more winter.  I’m still not tired of the rain,  I actually love it.

I’ll leave you with this video.  Have a good day.

The Hobbit

After seeing Heceta Head Lighthouse we decided to continue our search and trying to find the Hobbit Trail our friend Pat had told us about.

And we did find it.

Look at these trees.

These are huge rhododendrons I’d love to see in bloom in the spring.

Perfect name for this trail.

And even though I am not a beach person it was so much fun to be there at this time.

I must admit, the one thing I love about going to the beach is the feeling I get when I step into the sand, that whole world is ours to step on.  The open-ness of the beach, I just love.

Open. Towards the ocean, towards the sky.  It is so big!  The clouds go by quickly.  The fog moves around us.  The birds move searching and finding.  The waves move changing each second.  Everything seems to go by so quickly, it gives you a new sight, new sounds, new air to breathe.  Nothing is stopping nature.

It’s open and large, for everyone.

And full of surprises.

The open-ness, having all that space and air for me to take in, makes me feel small.   But these shadows, much larger than us, and truly, this whole weekend… will fill my memories.

The Presidents’ Party

I must admit, my memory is terrible.  I’ve never remembered things very well.  Names especially are the worse.  I don’t think it’s my age, because even at the university, when I was young, I had to learn all the names of the insects and parts of their bodies, or chemicals names, formulas, you know, lots of “name stuff”!  It was terrible because memorizing has never been my strength.  I never did good in those tests.  Oh my… I’m so glad they are over.

Now I have three other people in my family to help me, and well, we all help each other when we need to remember something.  Thank goodness for team work!

Last year we started making these presidents.

We got the idea from Every Day’s a Holiday by Heidi Kenney.

We made 17 presidents last year, and I tell you, I can’t name them all.

We’ve been gearing up to making some more lately.  It’s getting harder to distinguish one president from the other, so we numbered them and put their names in the bottom so we can learn them better.  We’ve been reading about them and trying to find something special about them so we can make a ‘wooden peg president’ different from the other ones.  But it’s getting harder to make them look different enough.  A fun challenge.

We are trying to find something that will help us remember their names.

And remember a little about their lives.

Something funny maybe.  A cool story.  Mark is great at that.

We are learning a little about American History.

Our way.

Also at this “Presidents Party” we invited some friends and decided to make other special guests.

Well? I can see, there will be more people coming to this party!  Will keep you posted when they appear.