Capilano Suspension Bridge : Vancouver, BC : Canada

On our second day in Vancouver, last March, we went to see the famous Capilano Suspension Bridge.

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Beautiful, huge totem poles take you to the edge of the bridge.

DSC_0187-small DSC_0189-small DSC_0190-small DSC_0195-small DSC_0196-small DSC_0198-smallAnd here we go.

DSC_0201-small DSC_0205-smallThese three people are way more excited to be on top of this moving, swaying bridge… than me.

DSC_0209-small DSC_0210-smallBut once on the bridge… oh the view. Beautiful!

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But I am quickly on the other side, waiting.

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Then, we walk around the place.  A lot of fun.

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And yes, you are on top of the trees… way up there.

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Yes, after having survived the crossing of the bridge (both ways!) we went for a cliff walk.

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I feel this certificate summarizes my personal feelings about this day walking on the edge of land and air.  But I am here now to tell you about it, and all these photos to share and many memories to treasure.

What a day it was.  Amazing in many ways.  But also brings me to an end of the picture sharing of our trip to Vancouver, British Columbia this past March. So many fun places we visited.  So many great memories.  We finished our vacation that time, seeing a total of 9 Bald Eagles, just flying right next to the road.  Like I said.  Amazing in so many ways. A trip we won’t forget.

Wahclella Falls : Oregon

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We got together with friends for a picnic and then a hike to Wahclella Falls.

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It is the perfect short hike when you don’t have all day.  It’s in the Gorge, right across the freeway from the Fish Hatchery and Bonneville Dam.

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The kids made it just fine, and we are thinking, this will be the perfect spot to go to in those very hot days we get in the summer.  Much cooler in this little canyon, next to a creek… that’s all you need, right?



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It was a fun evening.


It was a great way to kick off our summer.


The constellations : The solar system : Part 3


The last three days of our Solar System unit, we spent studying and reading about the stars. We read about the Sun, about other stars, about the constellations.  We read about Galileo Galilei and Nicolaus Copernicus.  We read Native American stories too.

We bought two telescope kits to make ourselves.  We built them the last day. And it was so much fun.


You should go look at the Constellations on Imagine Childhood too.  Such a beautiful idea.  I might do that for myself to help me learn them.  And how about the star light flashlight? Actually they have other great projects.  I’m going to try to make some of them now in the summer.  I am not done learning about our the stars.


We read different books and tried to figure out the constellations and learn a little more about them.  As well as the stories behind them, about their names, and how they came to be.  You can see our book list for this Solar System unity in my first post here.



Siena and Lucas each made stars in a piece of paper.  As many as they wanted and in whatever organization that they wanted.


Then they exchanged it with each other and they each had to find (invented) constellations and name them too.  This is what they came up with.

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It was so cute and they had a lot of fun.  So then I made the same sheet with stars for both of them, and they wanted to see what types of constellations they’d come up with, with the same stars on the paper. And this is what happened.


We also read about real stars and constellations.


And I know we’ll go back next Star Party to see and re-discover Saturn again.  I am still so amazed of what I saw.

:: right now ::

The calendar says summer started few days ago but our days shows something different. June is almost over, and spring is still here, with sunshine and warmth at times, but also with rain and cold breezes and evenings.

Right now I am:

:: celebrating Siena’s 11th birthday, for as many days as we can.  We love birthdays and make them special, and we can celebrate as many times as we want.

:: happy to see Siena so very happy to have gone play in the water all day on her birthday. I think the best birthday present she could have thought of!

:: wondering how we are going to eat all that lettuce growing in the garden.

:: trying to keep up with the garden and the drying of our plants to use later.  Siena and Lucas have taken the initiative to get us going on that most days.  It’s great and I’m so thankful of them for that (and much more!)

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:: enjoying having Mark at home, as an eternal Saturday for many weeks.  Love it!

:: feeling so lucky to be able to have this each summer.

:: sorry we missed the Super Moon this year.  But there was nothing we could have done.  It was raining and cloudy.

:: glad I found this fabric I’ve had for many years in my stash. A project that was never made.  Since we were into space again, when we met our neighbor’s nephew, the Discover Space Shuttle pilot on a mission to the International Space Station (ISS) few years ago.  And by the way, we also saw the ISS on that evening when we saw Saturn for the first time and learned it was real.  So I made a bag to hold the planets we made.  Perfect!


:: looking for a good travel knitting project… need to see what yarns I have and what I can make.  Will do that today.

:: enjoying the rhubarb syrup in many ways.


:: amazed at how much Siena loves swimming.  Even on cold days (that we’ve had lately) she’s still ready and excited to go to her practices, now switched to the outdoor pool.

:: still thinking my 25 things I want to do this summer…. though we’ve already done some!

:: loving the newly (again) remodeled play house, then club house, now… not sure what they are calling it. The kitchen from their childhood was taken out last year, which was a much bigger milestone to me than to Siena and Lucas.  This change, is a little less drastic but as creative as any before.


:: laughing at what I find  sharing my crafting table while I’m out in the studio and get some company from Lucas.

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Hope your June has been fun and beautiful too.

Newport : Oregon : Farmer’s Market + Beer

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In search for some fresh fish, we headed to Newport and went to our first Farmer’s Market of the year.

DSC_0431-small DSC_0438-small DSC_0439-small DSC_0440-small DSC_0442-smallAnd after browsing at the market, and finding fish we took our guests to the local brewery.

DSC_0443-smallRogue Brewery.

DSC_0445-small DSC_0446-small DSC_0449-small DSC_0450-small DSC_0451-small DSC_0454-small DSC_0455-small DSC_0458-smallOK. So this one.  Beard Beer. I know. I didn’t really want to try it, but I did. And it was actually good.  I just don’t think I can have a whole glass of it, just because … mmm… I’m afraid I’ll find some beard?

DSC_0463-smallAnd a good lunch was served, before heading to the beach.

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Making : Our own telescopes


We thought it was perfect to make our own telescopes.  Studying the solar system the last month.  The planets, the stars, and with the summer coming up, we think we could use them.

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So I ordered two kits  from Edmund Scientifics.

DSC_0009-small DSC_0012-small DSC_0013-smallI think we could have played with the lenses for a lot longer… maybe we’ll do that some other time.  How cool is it when you can see everything up-side down, just because of a lens?

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Building these telescopes, even from the kit, were more difficult than I expected, mostly because of the precision and the cleaning of the glue from the lenses.  But both Siena and Lucas built them with some of my help, without much problem.


But then, we had them ready.  It took us a while to make them work, focused to their eyes.  But we found the right spot and worked on them.

It was the most fun when we took them to the Star Party, and we were able to see the moon’s craters and Saturn! (I can keep talking about Saturn if you’d like…) And yes!  We saw Saturn with our own homemade telescopes! With rings and all (no Titan though…) How cool is that. (We thought it was cool, at least!)

The Kayak and Canoe Museum

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Yes, right here in Portland.  Lincoln Street in SE Portland to be precise.  This small and beautiful… I mean beautiful Kayak and Canoe Museum.

DSC_0783-smallSome friends who live in that neighborhood told us about this museum while our friends from England were visiting.  The problem was that our friends were leaving to go back home soon after.


So as I looked at the museum’s website, it said “Open Wednesdays 5-7 pm by appointment or by chance.”  It was Wednesday 9 pm.


The website gives you their email (and phone number) so I went ahead and sent an email that evening, to check and see if by chance he’d be open on that Thursday.  The day before our friends were leaving.  Harvey Golden, the owner who opened and runs the museum, and who builds these replicas, emailed me right back and said he’d open the museum for us.   Really!  Just for us.



That should have been a sign f what was to come.


It’s a house that he’s made into this amazing, really amazing museum.  It’s one of the largest kayak and canoe museums in the world. Can you believe it?


He has displayed maps and photos from all over.

DSC_0791-small DSC_0793-smallAnd there’s huge number of boats for that space.  Much bigger once you are inside.  Such a beautiful display and range of boats.

DSC_0788-smallAnd it was really fun to see kayaks like the ones we had read about when we learned about the Inuits, back in November.  Lots of them!

DSC_0789-small DSC_0820-smallAnd tiny models too.


You really have to go there.  It was amazing to see all these wooden boats, a lot of them built by Harvey.  What an amazing guy.  He’s a dad and he was so amazing with my kids.

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And he talked to us and answered all of our questions, and he was the nicest guy.  An Arctic kayak historian who was able to talk to all of us to understand.  We were all so impressed of the museum, his displays, his knowledge, explanations and stories.

DSC_0794-small DSC_0800-small DSC_0802-smallWe loved it all.

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He makes tiny models, replicas of real boats and has a display of them there too, and some he’s gotten as presents from friends, from all over the world.

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We are totally going back again soon.  It was so much.


And you should too!  I’m not related to him nor his friend, and he didn’t ask me to write this review or anything.  But if you have time, you should go see this amazing museum.  He knows so much, he’s super friendly, even the drawings of the boats he’s built and is building (I think) are laying there, and those are so beautiful too! Ah! And he’s great with the kids too. He gave Siena and Lucas a little boat to each one.  Seriously!  He’s that cool!


Here is the info.  Go check it out.  I think you are also going to like it.  Such a beautiful place.

5340 SE Lincoln St.
Portland, OR 97215

Email: harveydgolden at

The planets : The solar system : Part 2

We studied the Solar System the last 3 weeks of our homeschool year, as I posted yesterday.  You can read more about the other projects and the list of books, videos and websites we used too!

We just finished last week, and we all had a lot of fun.  As always, so much to learn, so much to read and make and do… we could do more, and I think we might do some other projects during the summer, because it is fun.


We studied something new each day. I think we could have done more, but we wanted to finish the same day than Mark did.  So one day per planet.  One day for stars including the sun and another day for constellations.  And for this we could have studied a lot more.  We are barely starting to understand.

DSC_0479-smallWe drew all the planets.  Siena and I decided to make them in watercolor.

DSC_0478-small DSC_0477-smallLucas made them in pencil.

And then we also made wooden planets.  This was one of my favorite activities.  I ordered wooden balls of different sizes and a ring, from Casey’s Wood Products.

DSC_0001-smallSiena and Lucas made the puzzle we have, to compare the sizes between the planets, the colors, in relationship to each other. It was fun listening to their comments and their thoughts of what was bigger and how much bigger, in comparison.

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Then we painted them with watercolors.

DSC_0013-small DSC_0014-small DSC_0017-small DSC_0018-small DSC_0019-small DSC_0020-smallUranus has a little stand, because we learned it spins on its side.  OK, so I don’t know if when I studied the Solar System in school scientists didn’t know as many details as I learned the last 3 weeks or maybe I wasn’t paying attention in class back then.  But I know a lot more now, than I did a month ago! And I also know that when I studied the Solar System, we had 9 planets.


But oh this project.  We were all excited to make them and they turned out so pretty!  I got the idea from Playful Learning.  Thanks! What an inspiration.


I also used these cards to review.  And this printout of the planets to review them each day.

And then I remembered we went to see an exhibit of LEGOS at OMSI last year, and that we had seen the planets then.  And on a side note, OMSI has now a new exhibit.  Mummies of the World.  Exciting and so interesting.  After having studied Ancient Egypt just last month (and even mummifying a Barbie!) we are all intrigued and trying to decide who wants to go see this exhibit.  


Now we can all say all the planets in order from the sun, say where their name came from, in order in size, say how many rings each one has, how many moons they have, name some moons even, and which one is the hottest, and other facts that we each wanted to learn.  But most importantly, we can also say which one we would go visit if we could.  Wouldn’t that be fun?

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And we actually have two more planets than no one has studied yet.

NOTE : September 27, 2013: I responded to a comment here below about the size of wooden balls we used.  I don’t have the list of the exact sizes we ordered, because we had some wooden balls already, and we seem to need them from time to time for other projects.  So I went ahead and ordered different sizes, a couple of each, and after studying the sizes, I order 3 and 4 of some, knowing we would have left overs.  I know, not a very economical way to make this project.  But as I said, we do use them for other projects.  So I had the kids pick the right sizes, depending on what we had just studied.  It worked out great, in my opinion.

But I found this project on making a planetary model and also of a solar system mobile in this book, and they have a list of plastic foam balls to get for that project.  I thought it might help you know the sizes they are using for these projects. 

If you are using Pluto, 1/2- inch ball.  Mercury, Earth, Venus and Mars, 1-inch ball. Uranus and Neptune, 2-inch ball.  Jupiter and Saturn, 3-inch ball.  Sun, 6-inch ball. 

I used different sizes, a little smaller for all of them, especially for the sun since I couldn’t find one that big, and also more expensive.  But this might be a good way to estimate the differences between them. Hope it helps!

Yaquina Bay, Newport : Oregon

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After a delicious lunch at Rogue we headed to the beach, on a beautiful sunny and warm day.

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Just a short hike down to the beach.


Inspired by the book Pacific Northwest Nature Sketchbook by Jude Siegel, that we had taken to the beach, Ros and I painted a little while Mark and Mac and the kids had some wind to fly kites.


DSC_0472-small DSC_0473-smallAnd it was so much fun.  I haven’t done it in a very long time.

DSC_0478-smallYou should have seen the clouds we had on top of us… beautiful!

DSC_0482-small DSC_0484-smallMore memories and some paintings to trigger them.  And I’m hoping I’ll do some of it this summer.

Space + stars + the universe : The solar system : Part 1

This is our last unit of the year.  Though we see our homeschool days as always learning, and there is not real limit to when we do this learning or at what time and when we stop, we’ve had a different rhythm in our days this year, and we are heading to our summer break, where I know our days will look very different again.

I’ve written more about how we spent our days this year in a couple of posts in the fall and winter.

You can see some of the links to this Solar System unit in my Pinterest boards.


I love planning our units.  Siena and Lucas decide and agree on a topic, and then for few days, I search online, and out books and videos on hold at our library, and we get started. I found this great blog of a homeschool family, with great printouts.


I used their vocabulary match up.


This time the book we used the most of the ideas from, was Exploring Space.  Siena really likes doing worksheet-type activities, and they have lots of making of books with different themes to study about.

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Some friends had given us a lot of their puzzles for young kids, and one of them was The Solar System.  So we took it out, and though it doesn’t have a lot pieces, it was fun to put together and see pictures of all the planets (including Pluto!) in big.


Different than looking at the pictures in a book, of course.


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We looked online for fun poems about the solar system and we found these.  But there’s lots of them online. You should check them out.

We watched this National Geographic video A Traveler’s Guide to The Planetsthat we watched and learned about each planet as we studied them.  A great resource and such a great video to watch and learn together.  I’m glad we found it.  It really helped us visualize, see how each planet really looks and get to understand better what we read about from books.  It was great.


We also made Galaxy Playdough, from Fairy Dust Teaching’s blog.  You never know when you are going to need playdough, so we make some every once in a while.  And this was perfect!

DSC_0387-smallWe mixed blue and black food coloring.


Siena loves making dough-ey things.  This was fun and we ended up using quite a bit as we were learning, besides playing with friends.

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Yes, sparkles makes everything better.  Magical, cosmic, galactic!


And of course, the list of books we used for this block of study.  As I’ve done for the other units.  Hopefully someone can use this list, but I also want to keep it as a reference for when decide to study again The Solar System.   Because who knows… we might go back to this.  There is just so much to study that I know we didn’t understand or cover everything.  It is such an amazing and vast topic.  And so much fun studying it again as a parent, as an adult.  I’ve enjoyed our blocks so much this time around, in my life.


We used all these books in one way or another.  No, we didn’t read all these books completely.  But we used them in one way or another.  Here they are in no specific order.

  1. New Views of the Solar System.  Compton’s by Britannica.
  2. Boy, Were We Wrong About the Solar System! by Kathleen V. Kudlinski.
  3. A Pocket Guide to the Stars and Planets by Duncan John.
  4. Out of This World : All the Cool Stuff About Space You Want to Know by Clive Gifford.
  5. Learning About The Solar System (sticker book.)
  6. Midnight on the Moon : Magic Tree House #8 by Mary Pope Osborne.
  7. Space. Magic Tree House Research Guide by Mary Pope Osborne.
  8. Planets set by Rosalind Mist.
  9. Our Solar System by Seymour Simon.
  10. National Geographic Readers : Planets by Elizabeth Carney.
  11. Weird But True Space Facts by Carmen Bredeson.
  12. There’s No Place Like Space! All about our Solar System by Tish Rabe.
  13. I, Galileo by Bonnie Christensen.
  14. The Solar System : Exploring the Planets and Their Moons from Mercury to Pluto and Beyond by Giles Sparrow.
  15. Exploring the Solar System by Bruce LaFontaine. Coloring book.
  16. Exploring the Solar System by Amanda Doering Tourville.
  17. Galaxies, Galaxies! by Gail Gibbons.
  18. The Solar System by Emily Bone.
  19. The Solar System by Laura Hamilton Waxman.
  20. Our Solar System by Seymour Simon.
  21. Discover Science : Solar System.
  22. Nicolaus Copernicus : The Earth is a Planet by Dennis Brindell Fradin.
  23. Discover Science: Planet Earth.
  24. Meet me at the Moon by Gianna Marino.
  25. The Moon Book by Gail Gibbons.
  26. The Planets by Gail Gibbons.
  27. Faces of the Moon by Bob Crelin.
  28. On the Moon by Anna Milbourne.
  29. Phases of the Moon by Gillia M. Olson.
  30. A Full Moon is Rising by Marilyn Singer.  (A book of poems from around the world.)
  31. Midnight on the Moon (Magic Tree House #8) by Mary Pope Osborne.
  32. Space (Magic Tree House Resource Guide) by Mary Pope Osborne.
  33. Stars (True Book) by Ker Than.
  34. Solar System : A Visual Exploration of the Planets, Moon, and Other Heavenly Bodies that Orbit Our Sun by Marcus Chown.
  35. The Sky is Full of Stars by Franklyn M. Branley.
  36. Coyote Places the Stars by Harriet Peck Taylor.
  37. Zoo in the Sky by Jacqueline Mitton.
  38. A Child’s Introduction to the Night Sky: The Stories of the Stars, Planets, and Constellations — and How You Can Find Them in the Sky by Michael Driscoll.
  39. The Kid’s Book of the Night Sky by Ann Love.
  40. All About Stars : Space Science for Children (video)
  41. Exploring the Solar System : A History with 22 Activities by Mary Kay Carson.
  42. The Constellations : Stars & Stories by Chris Sasaki.
  43. Space : A Visual Encyclopedia (DK).
  44. The Night Sky (Field Guide).
  45. Exploring the Solar System (Coloring book).

We did more, but I’ll post that tomorrow, so not to bore you with so many photos and lists.

Note (August 8, 2013): I found this new post from A Natural Nester, via Imagine Childhood. It might be fun to make some of these projects.