Category Archives: Field Trips

Our Bags Are Packed…Are We Ready To Go? April, 2018


I just hope I haven’t forgotten anything important!  My sister, Aunt, and I are taking my daughter and 2 nieces to Washington D.C. in the morning (April 7), early.  The big girls will get 1/2 credit for their government class, to go with the book we frantically finished up this week, which is the other 1/2 credit.  So, much of what we will tour will have educational value, along with just fun!  We have many, many sights to see and things to experience, and it all starts at the crack of dawn tomorrow morning.

As my sister says…if you have your meds, passports, $ or credit card or both, the rest can be replaced if you did forget it!  I still hope I haven’t forgotten anything:)

The past few days have been a blur or work, packing, cooking for those staying behind, and shopping. We have worked hard on school because, despite the trip, the school year will be over soon and things have to be done.  There is a pile of quick to grab items on the end of the table for Rob to cook in a hurry and some paper plates to save him time doing dishes.  We don’t have a dishwasher.  He is also stocked up on things like fish sticks to just heat up.  He is a good cook, and often cooks wonderful meals from scratch, but he will be strapped for time and energy, playing the role of both Mom and Dad and working for the time we are gone. We agreed some drastic measures were appropriate!

There are new tops, without a spot or stain in the suitcase.  Walking shoes have been packed.  There are backpacks stuffed with snacks.  My sister has an entire suitcase filled with food items, mainly the high-cost gluten-free ones!  I think we are set.   Honestly, it’s time to stop packing and just go!


I am not sure if I will be posting or not for the next few days.   I’m really not very good at posting with my phone, so I’ll see how it goes.  If I can make it work, I may put up some pictures of some of the sights we get to see.  In any case, I’ll take lots of pictures and share when we get back.

Homeschool Field Trip–State Capitol


This year, the girls are studying government.  Yesterday, we took a trip to the Oregon State Capitol.  My husband got involved, talked to Rep. Bill Post, followed his instructions,  and contacted his office and made an appointment.  So, at 11 o’clock, the girls and I met with him! This was the best time for him, as he had a little time to spare.  He explained that there is a law requiring them all to be there for 3 days in November, but much official business is not actually being done during these 3 days, so he could carve out the time.  It sure seemed busy around there, to me!  I can only imagine the hubbub during a busy time!  He did tell the girls he had just been in a 3-hour meeting listening to a report on how some group spent their money—very long, he explained, and somewhat tedious, but a regular part of his job.


He give the girls a tour of his office, and then showed them the House of Representatives chamber.  We were on a balcony looking down, and he had a friend down below point out his desk.  He explained how he votes for things, and some of the process involved with making a bill a law.  We had been studying this, so it was perfect timing.  He also showed the girls historic pictures of major towns in his district, and a list of all the bills he had introduced, and which ones had passed and failed.  He also told them a little about campaigning, his term of office, and so on.

The girls had prepared a few questions, and they asked them, along with any others that came up.  We found out something very interesting I did not know before!  My niece lives in his district–he is her representative.  BUT, we don’t.  We are on the other side of a line, and we have another representative.  We’ve only lived here a year, and had figured that both of us had the same representative!   You learn something new every day!


He was very kind and patient with the girls.  We really appreciated that he would spend the time with us, and I know the girls now have a firm, positive memory associated with the state capitol.  At the end of the time he had available, he left us at the governor’s ceremonial office and went on about his business.  We continued to look around.


The secretary was very nice to the girls.  She let them in behind the rope to the governor’s office.  They took turns sitting behind the desk.


They had a good time!  It was very nice of her, and we felt very special.


We peeked into the Senate chamber.  We went up stairs and down, looked in the gift shop, admired the old fashioned phone booths, and all the marble and wood fixtures that abounded in the building.


Of course, we viewed the Great Seal of Oregon, imbedded in the floor, and admired the murals painted on the walls.  All in all, it was a perfect field trip!  We have more planned in the future, but I’m sure this one will stick out in their minds for quite a while.

Camlann Medieval Village–Homeschool Field Trip


This weekend, we took the kids to Camlann Medieval Village.  It is a living history village about an hour from Seattle, Washington.  Both our family and Alissa’s family went together, and we took all of the kids, not just the homeschooled ones.  We had a blast!


The blacksmith entertained Michaela by putting arrowheads he had forged on her fingers and then they roared like wild animals.  He was so patient with her, and explained the whole blacksmithing process to all of us who were watching, but took extra time with an enamored Michaela.


One of the cottages had a fiber display.  It was very interactive, and the guide spent a great deal of time with the girls I was with, and let them weave on this loom.



Jake and Patsy had a great time feeding the sheep.


My sister, Gail, the field trip queen, chose this weekend to go because there was a May Day festival going on.  There are other festivals at other times of the year, and some weekends are “village” weekends.  It was explained to us that on festival weekends they hire entertainment such as the magician who did a show, musicians, and a few others.  Those people are not there and one lady told me there were even more displays explaining village life and how they made things on the non-festival weekends.  At 3:30, because it was a May Day festival, there was a Maypole dance for those who wanted to participate.  Michaela, Patsy and Alissa wanted to dance it and we all enjoyed watching them.


It was a lovely day, and we all enjoyed ourselves.


This little guy had a stick and was WAY too cute, joining in with the musicians as they played for the Maypole.  Earlier, his mother had been a guide for the cottage where we learned about daily medieval life.  She was SO in character, and SO convincing, that Michaela exclaimed afterwards, “I had NO idea that the people really lived here, in these houses!”  She was very sincere, but was fine with it when her mama explained that these people were actors and actresses who were playing a part and were told to say those things, like in a movie.


This little cutie was the daughter of the lady who made the flower wreaths that Alissa and Patsy wore.  She happily played with my sister, Gail, for a while as her mother was busy braiding flowers.  She had a designated babysitter, but was very friendly to Gail, too.


There was an archery demonstration, and later on, those who wanted too could take a turn shooting.


Jake sure wanted to!


Alissa and her dad, Ron, both decided to goof around and sit on Rob’s lap when their legs got tired:)

There was a restaurant, where Ron and Gail got a little bite to eat, as they had not had their lunch, yet.  There were things like “fungus” (mushrooms), and stew of some sort with a medieval name.  They said it was delicious.  Later in the evening, there was going to be a medieval feast, but we chose not to participate.  It is reservation only, something you need to know if you ever go and do want to participate.  I’m sure it would have been a great experience since it included both food and entertainment, but many of our kids are not good eaters, and the expensive feast would have been wasted.  Instead, we went to a pizza parlor in the nearby town of Carnation, and everyone pigged out on their preferred foods.  They even made Michaela a peanut butter pizza, which was basically bread with peanut butter on it, placed in triangles on a pizza board.  She was so happy, as her food choices are very limited.  Then Ron and Rob took the big kids to the movies, and Gail and I stayed back with Jake and Michaela, and just rested.  Ahhhhh….

This morning, Rob and I drove Lovana, Alissa, and Ja’Ana back in time for Driver’s Ed class, which started at 2.  Ron and Gail took Jake, Michaela and Patsy to the Space Needle, then brought them home a little later.  We had a fun, action packed weekend, and hopefully, everyone learned a little bit more about medieval times.  The village was small, there were no huge crowds, and the guides were very patient, kind and knowledgable.


Homeschool Field Trip to the Tulip Fields


We went to the Wooden Shoe Tulip Fields for a field trip (literally in a field) today:)

Alissa’s mom, Gail, has been wanting to take the girls there for a while now, and today turned out to be unexpectedly sunny, in spite of dire predictions of torrential rain.  So, the girls and I were working hard at school books when she texted me, and we decided on the spur of the moment to go today.  The girls did not protest at all when I asked them to close their science books and get in the car.


We picked our way through the mud to the field where we enjoyed a breathtakingly beautiful field of tulips.


It was quite a view from the observation platform (as seen in the top picture).  There was another huge field of tulips in the distance, a gift shop and restaurant, and many little booths of various items to buy.  There were also things like a hay ride, a huge slide and some other fun-looking attractions.   Many were closed since this was a Tuesday, but there were still quite a few people there.  On the weekends, sometimes the traffic is so heavy that it impacts I-5 where cars are trying to exit to go to the fields.  We were delighted to be there when it wasn’t so crowded.  We had plenty of space to thoroughly enjoy the flowers.  We wandered around for a while, Ja’Ana enjoyed an elephant ear while the rest of us had some food, too, admired the tulips some more, and headed back home so Alissa could do her guitar lesson and they could do math.


It was a great day!

Another International Homeschool Day


Today, my sister Rosalie, and I took the girls to see Rosalie’s friend Harnet and her 2 year-old daughter.  You may remember that we have gone to see her before and I wrote about it in this post.  We also went for a day out around Christmas time.

Today, Danait remembered the girls fondly, looked forward to them and myself coming over, and played really well and interacted with all of us.  It was quite a change from first time when we went over there and she was very shy because she did not know us.  Rosalie always brings a balloon from the Dollar Store, and today was no exception.  We also took a bag of assorted coloring books and activities, such as stickers, that were sorted out from Alissa’s house.


She loved them.  (The reason you will see lots of Alissa and no Ja’Ana is because she is catching that awful cold that we are passing around  and didn’t want her picture taken today–mostly she was very quiet and sat down a lot–poor girl!)


Harnet made us a bunch of food.  Yum!  She carefully taught us how to make this red lentil dish.  Here’s how you do it:

Saute a lot of onions in oil.  (I didn’t see exactly how many, but it was between 2 and 3 cups)

Chop up 4-5 tomatoes and throw them in. (She said a can would work)

Add some oil.  (It was a lot–like 1/2 cup or even more–I’m going to try a bit less)

Cook all of this for a while until tender, stirring occasionally–about 1/2 hour or more.

Put in 1 heaping Tablespoon of Beri-Beri spice or 2 heaping Tablespoons of Beri-Beri paste

Add red lentils 1 or 1/2 cups. (She washed them well first)

Chop 8-10 garlic cloves and put them in.

1 jalepeno pepper, sliced into sticks.  (She said this can go in any time.  She did it toward the end)

Salt and pepper to taste.

She then added some water until there was about 1 inch of liquid above the solids.  She stirred ever so often and let it cook until soft–about another hour.  It may have been done sooner, but that’s when we wanted to eat.  We had it over rice and some of them ate it with injeera bread.

She also made some chicken and some beef, which were also delicious.  It was important to her to cook for us, and for us to eat a LOT!  She is so hospitable.  We did our best, which was easy, because it is delicious food, although very different than what we are used to.  It’s a little bit spicy, so sour cream or yogurt is offered  to cool it down.  I like it the way it is, but the girls take the sour cream.


Rosalie and the big girls took Danuit for a walk and then played with her while Harnet and I worked on her homework for her classes in college.  We worked on English.  It was hard, and English is my first (and only) language.  We worked for about an hour and did not even get done.  After we left, Rosalie helped her finish.  She was so grateful because it is hard to get it done with Danuit “helping” and also she said it is just nice to be able to KNOW that she has the right answers instead of HOPING she is right.  She was telling us that she is studying for citizenship now, and hopes to take that test before too much longer.  I already respected her for her bravery and courage in coming to a new land.  I respect her even more as I get to know her and see how hard she is working to succeed here.

Then Harnet made us coffee.  She roasted the beans, ground them, heated milk, added tons of sugar, and served it to us.  I’m not a coffee drinker, but just can’t say no to that.  It has enough sugar in it that I can drink it and enjoy it.  There is a flavor to it that I can’t describe, but it’s a good flavor–very strong and sweet.

I brought embroidery supplies and started teaching her how to embroider a towel, because she wanted to learn.  We simply ran out of time before I had to head back home (over an hour away) to get to work.  So, Ja’Ana showed her how to find the DMC website with stitch instructions and pictures, and hopefully she will be able to get guidance from there.


After we left, Rosalie took them shopping to an Ethiopian grocery store.  On the way home, Danuit fell asleep and stayed asleep on the couch while they finished the homework.  Yea!  The girls were awesome!  They wore her out!  They had so much fun, despite J’s cold.

I am so happy with how this whole experience is unfolding for the girls and myself.  When we go, we do not do any conventional schoolwork that day, but I feel they are learning so much.  They are making a connection with someone they would not normally cross paths with.  They are learning that they can make a difference in someone’s world, by the simple act of playing with a small child and some simple toys.  They are learning to respect someone with different ways of doing things, a different language, and a different culture. They are seeing that the world is so much bigger than their small arena.  I like to think they are very accepting of others, and I want that to grow in them.  I’m happy they are generous and take small presents, and can also see, and be grateful,  that Harnet and Danuit have much to offer them as well–things like a welcoming spirit, hospitality, kindness, and more–and that they have something to offer, too.   I love it that they are surrounded by strong women, such as their aunties, and I think they will probably not understand how much courage it took for Harnet to leave her homeland and come to America for a better life until they are much older, but I love that they will have that information to process when they are ready.  They are going to need courage and compassion and many other traits to be good women.  Today is one of the days that I love about homeschool because we have time for these kinds of lessons along with the more traditional ones we do most of the time.

San Francisco, Here We Come!


In the dim light of early morning, our luggage looks like an explosion in a clothes factory.  We are ready to go.  Our plane does not leave super early, though, so we will have time to eat breakfast before we go join my sister and nieces.

My sister, Gail, has a work conference in San Francisco, so we are taking Ja’Ana, Alissa and Michaela down there for the ultimate homeschool field trip.  Part of the time, we will all sight-see together.  Part of the time, she will be involved with her conference and I will be the tour guide.  We will all be very cozy in one hotel room every night, and will be riding public transportation instead of renting a car.  For this and other reasons, J and I are each taking only one small suitcase that can be carried onto the plane and one backpack.  We should have plenty of clothes, as we are only going to be gone for a few days.

Rob, Lovana and Patsy will hold down the fort here, and Ron and Jake will hold down the fort at their house.

I have a map of San Francisco in my backpack.  Although I can get that information on my phone, I’m hoping to be able to see a larger version better.  We have downloaded an app for the public transportation system, including the cable cars, onto each person’s phone and purchased a ticket for unlimited riding that can be used for the entire time we are there.  We will just have to have the driver scan the phone, and can get on and off as much as we want.  The hotel is near the cable car line, as well as the bus lines.

We downloaded another app that tells us about many, many sights that can be visited in the city. We have chosen quite a few that would be fun for the girls and I to do.  Most of them are historical museums.  One of the things I have done with Ja’Ana and Alissa this year is study the great earthquake and fire of San Francisco in the early 1900’s.  I hope to see some information about that at one of these museums, as well as some gold rush exhibits.  We will be taking it easy, though, and will see what we see while still having fun, rather than run everyone ragged.  Michaela, especially, can out-walk us all, but needs down-time each day.  So, we will explore, then go back to the hotel and chill out.  Then, the last day, my sister is treating us all to a tour.  We will get on a bus and ride around, seeing sights, such as the Golden Gate Bridge and more.

It should be a grand adventure!

Thanksgiving Week Fun–Mission Mill Museum


The schools around here have the week off.  We decided to take the homeschooled girls on a field trip, and they are doing a small amount of work that was left over after they both got colds last week, but that’s it for them for the week, as well.  My sister planned it, and my aunt and I took the kids.  I had never visited this historical sight before, and enjoyed it tremendously.  It is located in Salem, Oregon.


We toured the old woolen mill, and the houses surrounding it.  Some houses img_3593had been moved to this sight, but the mill was always there.  We were amazed to see that the machinery still worked (at least some of it) and they ran some of it while we were in there.  In other places, buttons could be pushed to start machinery, which was a hit with Jake especially.


These homes were residences of early missionaries to the Oregon Territory.  They took a ship to Oregon before the time of the Oregon Trail, started out in one place which turned out to be flooded too often, so moved.  It was fun to see the houses.


In the parsonage, there were quite a few interactive exhibits set up with kids in mind.  Jake loved “cooking” with the play food, building with blocks, and other fun activities.

Does anyone know the purpose of the crinkly cast iron base and iron pictured above?  The base has grooves in it, and the iron part (on top with a handle) has a matching grooved surface.  So, you can hold the handle and roll it back and forth.  But why?  It wouldn’t be good for ironing, since it is crinkly.  Our best guess was an old-fashioned panini press–ha-ha!

After we had gone through all of the buildings, we browsed our way out through the gift shops, bypassed the cafe although it looked good, and enjoyed a wonderful lunch my sister packed for us–in the parking lot.  It was a great day!


Field Trip to the Columbia River Gorge


The Columbia River Gorge is famous for being windy, among other things.  Yesterday was no exception!  We stopped at Crown Point, a very high view point, and almost got blown away.  It was fun and the view was amazing!


Multnomah Falls was our next stop.  It was a beautiful day for a little hike.  Some of us went up to the lower bridge, and some stayed below.  Jake felt that someone should carry him, the the girls took turns.  Finally, he started hiking around on his own, but he milked it for as long as they were willing to carry him!


There were salmon spawning in the little river at Multnomah Falls.  It was awesome to see them fighting their way up a tiny little rapid and then laying eggs in the calm waters near the edge of the stream, often near branches that extended over the water.


When we got to the Bonneville Dam Fish Hatchery, Jake was not at all sure he wanted anything to do with feeding the huge rainbow trout that were in the holding pond.  But, by the time we got to the second area, a pond, he became very excited about the idea.


He loved throwing the food, or flicking the food, as his mood dictated.  We took a nice stroll around the grounds and saw several ponds with various fish in them, including some massive sturgeon.  We did not go into the visitors’ center, though.  By that time, they were hungry and we went back to the van and ate our picnic.  I’m sure it would be fun for another time.


After that, we went over to Bonneville Dam itself.  To get there, you need to go through a security point, then drive over the dam.  Jake especially liked doing that.  Then, in the visitor’s center, we looked around and went down to the viewing windows in hopes of seeing fish.  We thought we would, because of the ones in the stream at Multnomah Falls, but we did not.  Still, the whole experience was fun.

Back into the van we went, and drove up to Cascade Locks for ice cream (or onion rings as some preferred), and headed for home.  Everyone was happy and had a nice day.  The weather was so nice!  It was a great fall trip, and I’m glad we did.