Z found this gnome hanging out near the urban farm, complete with chickens and goats, created by the amazing folks at Seattle Tilth.

Some friendly pollinator types had their own house.

I’ve been reading Early Spring, a book by an ecologist-mama, who looks at the effect of climate change on the environment from a personal level.  One of her observations is that the appearance of prematurely blooming flowers are not coinciding with the seasonal return of their natural pollinators (e.g., bugs).   This is certainly the case here in Seattle.

We adopted some caterpillars, seen here munching on their food and minus their protective covering.  Z’s housing them in his room until we can release them as backyard butterflies.

Z’s field guide score.  How can a wizard and fairytale obsessed kid not be entranced by poisonous mushrooms with names like Death Cap and Avenging Angel?’

And we’ll be growing some edible mushrooms courtesy of the fine folks at Fungi Perfecti.  Science + Food = Awesomeness.

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Asking questions.

Getting hands-on with urchins, hermit crabs, plume worms and other invertebrates.

Meeting the newest resident, Captain, the giant Pacific octopus.

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Tiger Mountain. Last Friday.

The Swamp Monster trail has a series of storyboards. Either intentionally or by accident, they sort of peter out before the end of the trail, leaving us to wonder if the storyteller was, in fact eaten by the evil creature lurking in the muddy forest.

Today. At home. We played our first game of By Jove, which has a Monopoly-meets-Greek-Mythology vibe to it (a Goodwill score). For a boy who’s obsessed with the heroes and villains of the ancient world, there was no better way to play with math than in the context of vanquishing perils like Medusa and the Minotaur.

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We spent some time hanging out with the salmon and other fine marine creatures at the Seattle Aquarium last week.  It’d been months since we last visited, and there were several changes to the exhibit space. Much to the delight and surprise of staff, Z sought to find out what had happened the garden eels and the flashlight fish (They are in the back of the house and at the Pt. Defiance Zoo, respectively).

Highlight of the trip:  Hanging out with a elder who was feeding fish. He had a variety of krill and other tasty morsels in a muffin tin, which led to much discussion between him and Z.

Snap circuits are getting lots of play time these days. We’ve been building the projects included with the kit (and have happily discovered many more here) and just tinkering around to see what happens.

Yesterday, Z and I took advantage of the spring-like weather and rambled through Carkeek.  This woodpecker was right next to the trail, close enough that Z ended up with sawdust sprinkles on his noggin. Another harbinger of spring – the return of in force of spiders, centipedes, worms, and earwigs under logs.

Here’s a peek at the snack and story book that’s been rocking our world for the past few evenings.

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Z finally broke out the DIY kaleidoscope from Christmas.

The stones, leaves, and rocks that came with it soon gave way to marbles, shells, sequins and whatever else could be stuck inside the little tube.

On Wednesday, we headed over to see the The Dragon, The Knight and The Mermaid at the NW Puppet Center with other families from the Seattle Homeschool Group.

Beautifully carved, three-foot wooden marionettes were used in this retelling of a French folk tale performed in the Sicilian tradition of Opera dei Pupi.

The Carter Family transported the audience completely from a drab Seattle day into a world of enchanted knights, evil dwarves, beautiful mermaids, and fire-breathing dragons.  The spell was lifted only after the show, when they took the time to show the mechanics of their ingenious creations.

What do you and your family do to see the world through a new lens from time to time?

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We took advantage of the unseasonably dry and warm weather Sunday and hiked at Carkeek Park.

The sheer number of buds forming on young tree and native plants moved the coming of spring from theoretical to reality.

Z decided to bring a laminated field guide so that he could keep track of anything he might find along the way.

Wolf?  Z t hinks yes, based on lengthy cross-referencing on shape and size.

Z did not bring his mushroom guide, so  this fungus remains a slightly creepy, yet delicately colored mystery.

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The first seed catalogue arrived last week, setting off a whirlwind of vegetable-related dreaming and scheming by Z.

Armed with our trusty Seattle Tilth garden guide, we’ve worked out a plan for early spring and far beyond.

Peas. Beans. Beets. Carrots.  Squash. Watermelon. Tomatoes.  Basil. Thyme. Marjoram. And Sunflowers.

In the meantime, there’s soil testing to do.  Beds to ready and make.

And, most important to Z, praying mantis egg cases to order and care for.

All in all, it’s been a delicious way to play with dirt and science and math this week.

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We road-tripped across Lake Washington to the Kidsquest Children’s Museum in Bellevue today.

It’s in a mall.

But it rocked.

You see, the Seattle Children’s Museum generally doesn’t cut it as a big destination for our family.  The temporary exhibits are heavily branded with cartoon/TV/movie tie-ins that generally hold absolutely no interest for Z.  These traveling exhibits, which tend to give Z a combination of sensory overload and mental boredom, seem to come at the expense of the rest of the museum which, as of late, often has out-of-service exhibits.

In contrast, Kidsquest seemed content to trust kids to use their bodies and minds in a more organic way, mostly by playing and experimenting with air, water, and light in a variety of creative settings . . . without the help of Mr. Potato Head, Elmo, or Bob the Builder.  That’s way more Z’s speed, since he tends to want to focus on a project than move from one “play/learn” station to another.

And we even made it back home across the Lake in time to bake bread together, in keeping with the new Tuesday tradition.

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We’ve rambled through a damp Magnificent Forest that became ancient Egypt courtesy of some tree carvings and oddly-placed concrete pyramids.
We’ve watched the first salmon of the season migrate through Pipers Creek.

We’ve travelled to Narnia, often.

We’ve met trolls and gnomes at the Nordic Heritage Museum right here in Ballard.
We’ve road-tripped to Olympia, where Z tried his hand at silversmithing (like a dwarf!) with a dear and talented friend, who also happens to know a whole heck of a lot about marine biology.
In the meantime, I’ve had a wandering of the mind and spirit when it comes to my confidence in this adventure.  I am convinced that we need to refine and re-find our family rhythm as the season turns increasingly cold and rainy.  We also seek a balance between wanting to be inside and outside – both in terms of bodies, our minds, and our world.


Z has this dragon mug that I picked up at Goodwill so that he could have his own cup for tea and hot cocoa now that the darker, damper months have arrived.  I didn’t know that Z had developed a backstory for it until I was asked to write down the following story last week.

The Story Of The Seven Kings and The Ghastly Dragons
By Zach
October 28, 2009
Once upon a time there was a palace.  It was not just an ordinary palace.  It was a rainbow palace.  It did not live on the ground.  It lived in the sky.


It had a very good enemy.  That was a dragon.


There was a king inside the palace.  But there was not just one king.  There were seven kings.
There was a particular treasure in the palace.  There was a golden chest inside.  And, guess what?  It was not just a golden chest.  It was a magical chest of gold.
There was also a dragon coming towards it.  But it wasn’t just one dragon.  It was two dragons!

But there wasn’t just one palace.  There were seven palaces and two caves.  One palace for each king, and one cave for each dragon.
When the kings noticed there were two dragons coming towards the treasure and when the dragons finally reached the palace, they snuck to the chest.
  
But the chest put a spell on the dragons because the dragons had let their own chests get taken by the seven kings.  When that spell was finished, the dragons fell asleep.
  
Then, in their dreams and their lives, one turned blue and one turned green.
But that wasn’t it.  The kings put a spell on them.
And turned them into cups.

The End.