On the Move


{on the move is one of our favorite records to listen to while working….}

Things are beginning to take shape around here, due largely to the generous support of the go fund me page we set up. In addition, my wonderful family in Seattle brought us grocery bags filled with things like notebook paper, and legos…teaching tools, pencils, and sketchbooks. We took our yearly summer ‘sort of stay-cation’ to Seattle last weekend, and it was fantastic.



Vegas was the only one to ever have ridden a ferry across Puget Sound before, {still, it was several years ago!} so right off the bat, we picked up my mom and headed west on the Tillamook towards Southworth. I managed a quick Craigslist stop in Port Orchard, and we drove north to Kingston and took the Walla Walla back to Edmonds.


{BTW~ that lady in the background was cracking us up! I was afraid she would get blown away!}

The weather was beautiful, the wind didn’t bite at our ears too much, and the vending machines were grossly overpriced! Yikes! $2.50 for a little bag of Sour Patch Kids, I felt like I might as well be going to the movies!



Later that night, some of us actually did go to the movies, and I am still processing what I think of the new Mad Max. Mostly, I feel like there were not nearly enough leather jackets, or awesome outfits.


Back on track.


Our trip also included a visit to the Burke Museum, Dick’s fries, Pagliacci Pizza, the most amazing gyro/gyro plate EVER from Mr. Gyro’s {if you haven’t been, go! It is amazing. Greenwood & 85th},Pike Place Market, The University Book Store, Byrnie Utz Hats,  Carkeek Park, thrift stores, hair appointments, the Fremont Troll, and an epic rainstorm.


We packed our car full of art supplies, books, binders, ideas, and memories. I came home with a much more specific book list, and began ordering curriculum today. In the mail {for Vegas} already, is Harold Jacobs Elementary Algebra, which is an exciting step off the beaten path for us, we’ve been sticking to the tried and true Saxon math for the last few years, but I am excited for this text. Also, {for Vegas} Windows to the World, which is a literary analysis course…right up his alley. In the next order I will have the math and language arts books for Elvis and Axel, as well as magna doodles for Axel and America to practice Handwriting.


Soon after that order, will come the order with all the knives, ropes, knot tying books, field guides and nature handbooks.  {that will be the hardest to keep simple!}


Vegas starts Orchestra at the local middle school this Friday, which is completely crazy to me, but I think it will be fun!


School will start for us on the 15th, even though I am sure some of the books won’t be here yet. It will be a soft start, so to speak, getting the routine down, figuring out how to get Vegas to orchestra and back, etc.


On the back burner, I am considering joining the Wild Explorer’s club, {or starting my own club, just for the merit badges}. Anyone know where to get patches made?

Trying to eek every inch out of my tiny office area, Shelley 


Beyond Wildwood

11007938_412861488885209_675740318_nA few weeks ago the Harmon Academy took a field trip to Hoyt Arboretum, located in the west hills of Portland. If you have ever read Wildwood, you would recognize it from the story as the ‘Impassable Wilderness‘.  Surrounded by an invisible electric fence, force field, or periphery bind; Forest park is an ‘enormous wooded area with many trails’ that is “really hard, nay, difficult to get into“. Obviously, we were able to get in and out without any of our children being carried off by crows, but the woods still have a bit of a spook factor.Screen Shot 2015-03-23 at 9.30.30 PM

We wandered through the forest, amazed at what a seemingly endless maze of trails and valleys were at our disposal just minutes from home. Even though we only had a little over an hour, time took a back seat as we collected giant ponderosa needles, tiny pinecones, looked at volcanoes, and felt totally transported out of our usual routine.


Sometimes, we had to look twice at a tree to really gather in how tall, or how wonderful it was. I think Meri looked back at this one at least six times.


Being in the woods is slightly like going to the library…the quiet, the vastness, the inability to actually learn all there is to know about anyplace or anything. But, you can run, and shout, and climb on things, and listen to the sound of a stick whipping through the air. You can touch living things that are older than you will ever be, have survived wars, earthquakes, riots and depressions, and keep truckin‘. Good stuff. Plus, it smells good.

Elvis is slowly memorizing every Calvin and Hobbes comic strip that exists. This is one of his favorites, and it actually made looking at the underside of ferns very relevant, and exciting.


There’s just something about watching my kids running with wild joy, in the sun, without media of any kind, that soothes my heart. We watch our share of cartoons, and play plenty of video games, but it hasn’t put a damper on the enthusiasm that comes from a patch of dirt, or a good stick. That, my friends, is God’s grace.


A friend of a friend wrangled something like 80+ families over the last month to participate in a nature exchange. This means she took all our random information, and paired each family with another from a different area of the world, to send packages of ‘nature’ to each other. I would have never even thought of it. Ever. But, it is turning out to be pretty fun! The kids have enjoyed collecting odd bits of their natural world, and they are happy to share evidence of plants and animals that are important to them with our exchange family. We have had to get creative though, because watching other collections take shape on Instagram can tend to up the ante, if you know what I mean. We have a week left to finish it up and mail it out. I hope to go back to the Hoyt Arboretum to collect more ponderosa needles and crazy moss…because it’s everywhere.
spooky_treetreeThe light in the impassable Wilderness makes each photo look like a painting. I printed a few of these out for the nature exchange, and now I want to print out about a hundred more. {especially that first one of Vegas, its my favorite. It looks like something from another time. Another tax bracket.}


While Vegas was photographing everything along the path, and recording the sounds of birds singing their funny different songs, the boys swear they found a wolf’s cave. They were pretty fearless, seeing as a wolf definitely lived in there, and yet both of them threw rocks repeatedly at the entrance to the cave. They took off up the trail when I pointed out that if I were a wolf in my cave, and two boys were outside pelting me with gravel, I would run out and have them for lunch.


Pictured above: tiny pine needles, giant ponderosa needles, small pine cone, long pine cone, teeny tiny pine cones in between needles….Let me just say that the ponderosa needles smell amazing. We did a smell test on each thing we brought home. They all smelled like woods, and then the ponderosa smelled like you were in the middle of a Christmas tree, only better, if that is even possible. I made a print of this picture for the exchange, since I don’t know if we will be back in time to gather more things for our package before the deadline. {we gathered these before we knew about the exchange, so they ended up in the compost}

Here are a few more things in our collection: owl nutshells, birchbark, horse chestnuts, seed fronds from our ornamental grass, spiky seed pods from a tree that grows in our neighborhood. All these descriptions reflect my vast scientific knowledge of ‘nature’. {*ahem*} I actually need to spend some serious time this week with the boys working out just what we are sending. Even just an accurate name would be a good start, not ‘spiky seed pod from a tree that grows in our neighborhood’.

Towards the end of our time, we found the Magnolia collection, which reminded us of our tree in Seattle, that we had to leave behind. There was a knot in its trunk that always looked like a rabbit to me. This particular tree had an awesome climbing and sitting trunk, so we took a few minutes to document that we were all {even me} there together.


Listening to the Happy Hipster, turning up the heat, and wishing someone would bring me a coffee even though its past midnight,


The End of Summer

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photo 2-7

The Beach.  All summer we had determined to go, only to find that we could never make the trek on a day that wasn’t drizzly and 55˚. Even if it is hot here in Portland, the beach is usually windy and wretched. But on our last weekend before school was officially in session, we drove out to Seaside, despite the questionable weather report. The coast was beautiful, the wind was just right for kites, and not knives in our ears.

photo 1-7

photo 3-5


Backing up all my photos,  Shelley