Tuesday, April 28

Schools on Trains

Amtrak has a program in our area called Schools on Trains, and for a discounted rate school groups can travel between Bellingham, Seattle, Portland, Eugene and all stations in between. Fortunately for us, Amtrak has included homeschool groups in the bargain, and yesterday for the first time we joined our local homeschool group on the trip!

We arrived a little early to the station and spent some time looking around. Little by little our group began arriving until finally the station was packed! We had the more than the maximum 72 people in our group since a half a dozen people had to pay full fare in order to bring their younger children along. For a short time we thought my hubby was going to have to leave us to take care of a crisis at work, but thankfully he got it worked out before the train left and was able to accompany us.

The kids (particularly Abby) were so excited! Our group took up more than two whole passenger cars, and I'm sure the rest of the travelers were glad we had the cars all to ourselves because it was a fairly loud and boisterous group of kids (and parents).

After exploring all the fascinating buttons and the curtains and things on the train, the kids settled down and looked out the window and played some games we brought and drew pictures for a couple of hours. We walked the length of the train so they could see all the different cars, and Ryan and I talked to the conductor for a short time.

About 45 minutes before arriving in Seattle, we got out the lunch we had packed and they kids loved eating in their seats with the tray tables down. It's amazing how just a change in location makes an ordinary PB&J so much more fun!

After almost three hours, we arrived in Seattle, and we were ready to get up and do some walking. In fact, we spent almost all of our four and a half hours there walking. We walked down to the Pike Place Market and went to our favorite places there (including a donut shop and the fish throwing place), then we walked through the hundreds of stalls and enjoyed seeing all the gorgeous flowers and fresh produce they have for sale every day of the year.

If you look closely you can see the Ryan is screaming
his head off because they scared him with the monk fish!
This is a favorite trick that lets bystanders laugh at other
people's expense. It truly is funny to watch though
when you know what's going to happen.

It would be so incredible to have access to that kind of farmer's market and fresh fish year round! I have never been to the market when they didn't have a fabulous selection.

Of course the market has all sorts of wares besides food and flowers. Artisans of all sorts sell their products, and then there's the usual "performance artists" that share their "talents" hoping for some spare change.

In all the times I've visited the Pike Place Market, I've never actually gone into the first Starbucks and bought anything, but today we changed that. It was totally packed, but they managed to get our drinks to us with impressive speed! So now I've been to the very first Starbucks...ah, I feel complete.

We were blessed with an absolutely gorgeous day! It was on the cool side, but the temp ended up being just perfect for walking around with a light jacket. We could see the snow-capped Olympia mountain range across the sound, and there wasn't a cloud in the sky.

After walking through the market, we looped around and walked back along the waterfront. We watched the ferries coming and going, gave the kids a ride on the carousel, and looked through some interesting shops, including the obligatory Ye Olde Curiosity Shop which has genuine shrunken heads and myriad other oddball things to look at.

Lastly, we went to Ivar's for some clam chowder. This is my all-time favorite chowder, and as I was browsing their website when planning our trip, I noticed that they have Happy Hour starting at 3:00pm every day. So we planned to make that our last stop of the day, and it worked out beautifully.

We got some yummy clam strips and chowder half off the regular price, and all of our drinks were free! The bonus was that we got to sit and relax while the kids watched out the windows completely engrossed in watching people feeding the seagulls outside. They were so entertained by this that hubby and I got a good long (fairly uninterrupted) chat in, which was wonderful!

After our early dinner we walked back to the train station just in time to board our train home. We spent the time playing 20 Questions, looking out the windows and chatting with another homeschool mom, so the time went fairly quickly. As we pulled back into Kelso/Longview Station, it was absolutely pouring rain which was a surprising end to a very long but very fun day out.

Thursday, April 23


It's been so nice to finally have some sunshine here in Oregon. The kids are loving being outside, and I'm loving them being outside at last!

Tuesday, April 21

Fundraising Champion

Salesmanship is not my thing. I'd rather eat rocks than have to go door to door selling something. When we had the choice to either buy out the fundraising portion of the baseball fees for $30, I wanted to jump at it, but hubby said we should see if Ryan wanted to do fundraising or if he wanted to earn the $30 himself. Ryan chose fundraising.

Of course hubby said he would take him so I wouldn't have to do it, but guess who was conveniently working the weekend we needed to take him door to door? Thankfully I was rescued by poor weather after just a few houses, so Daddy took over the next day.

We discovered that we have an incredibly generous neighborhood! Apparently I'm the only cheapskate on the block. Ryan was told he would probably only sell to about one out of every ten people he asked, but in fact he was only told no by about five people! Though he only needed to sell five items, he wanted to keep selling so he could earn some money. Would you believe the little squirt was the fourth best seller in the whole league!? He didn't even ask around our church either. I was stunned.

We had Ryan do all the selling while we just stood back at the sidewalk. Apparently, he did a good job. It was quite a chore delivering all the items once we picked them up, but we finally got it all done. Ryan is $10 richer and also won a small prize for his all his fundraising.

Monday, April 20

Baseball Season Again

It's baseball season again and the games have begun. Opening day the schedule was running behind, so Ryan took it upon himself to organize an impromptu game of Duck, Duck, Goose. It was hilarious to watch him getting it going, and I was happy to see Abby was included as well!

He has really improved in the last several months since he last played. He is no longer the novice player on the team and is holding his own quite well. He is really hard on himself though and thinks he should be better than he is for some reaosn.

He wasn't digging on the practices, but now that the games have actually begun, he's having a good time.

It was kind of comical when Ryan realized who one of his coaches was. (Remember this coach and the issue Ryan had with him during the last game of fall ball?) Well, Ryan made a beeline right over to him and asked if he could pitch this season. I don't know if the coach remembered his promise, but Ryan surely did.

However, once again the coach couldn't keep his promise because in this league they use a pitching machine. Ryan seemed okay with it, but I found it amusing that he remembered the whole thing so well.

Saturday, April 18

Gramie Visits

My mom came for a visit, and that is always cause for great excitement for Ryan and Abby. They could hardly contain themselves as we waited at the airport! One time a few years ago we made these cute signs that said "Gramie" on them and the kids held them as we waited for her at the airport. Even though the joke isn't nearly as funny the fifth time around, the kids think we need to do it every time she comes, so here they are holding up the signs for her.

We crammed a lot into the week she was here. We celebrated Abby's birthday, went to the zoo, celebrated Easter, went to the Children's Museum, and Mommy and Daddy got a couple of nights out alone too.

It's been years since we've been to the Children's Museum, but last summer the kids earned free tickets during the summer reading program. I had completely forgotten about them but found them when I was cleaning out my purse last month. I decided to save them and go when my mom was here so she could enjoy it with us.

The kids had so much fun playing in the waterworks, playing shopkeeper and ambulance driver, and even putting on a play for us.

One of the fun things my mom and I did together was make these adorable cupcake bites that I saw on Bakerella a while back. I've been wanting to make them, but it's so much more fun doing things like that with other people. So I gathered the supplies and made them with my mom. I don't think she enjoyed it as much as I did, but she agreed they turned out very cute. We ate some, gave some away, and shared some with Abby's Sunday school class.

Thursday, April 16

Still Here

I'm still here.

With Easter, my daughter's birthday, my mom visiting, church responsibilities, homeschooling, and plain old life, I've not found time to do any blogging lately. I have a bunch of posts backed up waiting for photos and such, but I may or may not get them done (who wants to read old news, eh?).

Today, I'll just confess my latest crime: I became a right-wing extremist this week. I didn't know I was doing it. I didn't feel any different nor did I recently adopt any new and radical opinions, but apparently if you think the Constitution is a document worth defending and abiding by, if you want to keep the money you earn and not have it confiscated by the government, and you have the audacity to actually do something wild and crazy like join thousands of others dumping two-year old tea into an already polluted river, you are a right-wing extremist! So be it.

You know, I guess I did see some pretty extreme behavior. I saw grown men crying as they sang the national anthem, I participated in public prayer, I even saw people put their hands over their hearts and look at the flag as they said the Pledge of Allegiance!

"Unheard of, unthinkable!"

Children's Museum

Last year Ryan and Abby both earned free tickets to our local children's museum during the summer reading program, but somewhere along the line, I forgot that we had them. As I was cleaning out my purse a month ago, I ran across them and was glad to see they hadn't expired yet!

While my mom was here, I decided to take her and the kids to the musuem for the day. It had been years since the last time we went, so it was like a brand new experience for Ryan and especially Abby.

They played the most in the waterworks exhibit and were pretty wet by the end despite wearing the smocks that were provided.

They added a stage since the last time we were there, and Abby loved it! There were costumes, props, musical instruments, and even a sound board where you could play sound effects like thunder or the sound of slipping on a banana peel (like in a cartoon). Abby wanted to sing one of her own songs, and when she started singing, all the kids and parents in the room quieted down and listened to her! It was really kind of neat because she was singing a song she had made up about the Lord and everyone was listening to her.

Then they played in the play store and doctor's office for a while before going back to the waterworks.

Lastly, as we were leaving the museum, we found the special Bob the Builder exhibit. It was a little juvenile for our kids, but they had fun nonetheless. Ryan would have loved it two years ago!

We had a good day and we enjoyed it, but I was reminded why we haven't been in a couple of years. Unless we have free tickets, it's really not worth the price to get in to the museum, in my humble opinion (what's up with charging admission for parents who just follow the kids around the whole time?).


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