autumn days

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Blue Lake Regional Park

Last week we headed to Blue Lake Regional Park to explore their natural playground.  We had expected something grand and worth the trek.  It was a pretty cool park, though the plastic-free portion was much smaller than what we'd anticipated.  And we paid $5 to enjoy it all too.  It was worth the trip for us, as the littlest ones spent their time in the sandbox (with our two Flat Stanleys) and the bigger kids hung out all over the place.  We built a fort out of logs, hopped along on the stumps, and watched the kids perform their personal play that was a mix of birds hatching and Little House adventures.  It felt good to go explore a new place, though we don't often frequent the same places outside our neighborhood.  And we were inspired to try to create more natural areas in our own yards.  An arborist friend may be able to share some stumps with us and I am angling to get some ropes strewn through our one stable climbing tree.  Oh the adventures we have yet to create.

hanging around with friends on log steps

two Stanleys playing in the sandbox

Saturday, May 12, 2012

Flat Stanley goes to Ag Fest & Discovery Village

Once Hannah heard about the Ag Fest in our state capitol Salem and all its splendiferous activities, she talked us all into going with her.  Several of our friends raved about this event and Hannah's determination was just icing on our Ag Fest cake.  After hanging out with pigs and goats and rabbits and chickens, waiting 45 minutes for a balloon dragonfly, digging for potatoes, blowing thousands of bubbles, stamping blueberries onto a postcard, and eating an ice cream bar, Hannah finally got to see a lamb sheered.  That made the drive and fatigue entirely worthwhile.

Hannah had recently filled her chore jar with beads and had requested to go to Discovery Village, also in Salem.  Since we were there for the Ag Fest, we spent our last few hours at this village.  We highly recommend stopped here when you are in the area.  We got in for free with our OMSI membership card.  There are three buildings and an amazing outdoor play area.  Next time we'll dedicate a whole day to the Discovery Village.

the Stanleys eating Ag Fest corndogs

sweet sleeping pigs

bubbles and bubbles and more bubbles

potato digging

arranging Arthur's calendar at Discovery Village

virtual quilting as a story extension

A rocking chair for giants!

Saturday, May 5, 2012

Zenger Farm

Zenger Farm is so awesome!  We already knew this from previous visits (Friday tour, honeybee festival, etc.), so we couldn't wait to spend another morning there with friends for a guided tour.  The kids were on a hunt for insects, of which we found a few.  We learned about bees, orchards, wetlands, a variety of snails, organic standards for raising chickens, and so much more.  We also learned that chickens prefer cauliflower to kale and some of those hens are quite loud.  After the tour, my two children and I hung out with our friend Flat Ellie (in photos below) around the roving chicken coop, the Children's Garden, consumed the rainbow chard with our eyes, and revisited the compost pile.  Hannah has asked repeatedly to join the chicken co-op and collect eggs once a week.  Until she has thoroughly convinced me to take on this responsibility (and all the joys that come with it), we are planning another carefree return visit to Zenger Farm.

more dandelion bouquets

going on a bug hunt, gonna catch a big one

Flat Ellie in a forest of rainbow chard

cherry trees are in full bloom

gotta love the Children's Garden

wormin' around in the compost heap 

Liam discussing the upcoming election with his new rooster friend

Mount Tabor Park

Nature days are so invigorating.  We love every part of these outdoor days.  We recently went to Mount Tabor with friends, not only to climb the trees and play hide and seek, but also to pick flowers and spontaneously build a survival shelter out of fallen branches.  As we looked up into the tall trees during our first snack of the day, we spotted a large dark nest in the nearby tree and talked about the possible creatures that could live in it.  Looking up from our second snack a couple hours later, we saw something I had never seen until this day: a bald eagle!  It was first trailed by two quiet black birds resembling crows (but when are crows quiet?) and later by a Cooper's hawk with a translucent tail gleaming in the sun.  It was totally amazing to see our national bird for the first time, and over such a metropolitan area.  It was such a beautiful day of sunshine that our littlest children uncharacteristically took off their shoes and socks and rolled themselves around in the grass.  We sat in the grass for what felt like a combination of forever and not long enough and eventually headed home in search of more food for our bellies.  Spring was surely in the air and we were glad to have been there to take part in the shifting of seasons.

squirrel and coyote (variation of hide and seek) with friends
a full day of picking dandelion bouquets
little toesies in the lush greenery while the big kids build a fort