December 23, 2016

Tate Britain Art History with Kids

We started our UK trip at the Tate Britain. Located along the Thames, it was a nice walk from our location in Pimlico to the gallery. We prepared for the visit by watching several Khan Academy Smart History videos that highlighted famous works of art in the gallery. It was stunning to see Lady of Shalott and Ophelia in person after listening to their meaning on the videos. This engaged the kids so much more than if we walked in without context.

The gallery is organized chronologically by rooms, so it feels like you are walking through history. At night, the building is illuminated with a pink glow. It was an enriching first stop to kick off our time in London.

September 25, 2016

Manzanita Lake and Subway Cave

Our last camp trip of summer was small but mighty. Two days in Lassen's Manzanita Lake campground were a hit in terms of friendship, sports, exploration and creativity. This mellow and beautiful lake is at the west entrance to Lassen National park, and it's an excellent water craft area for paddle boards and kayaks. 

Because we went during the Olympics, our crew made up all sorts of Olympic events, such as synchronized paddle boarding and sprint rowing loops. We even handed out medals during the campfire. 

15 minutes north of the park entrance is Subway Cave, a lava cave that really does look like a subway. Heading in with a flashlight was too easy for these girls. So we did lights off, and explored by hand. Do not try that at home (Mom almost fell!). 

July 5, 2016

Treasures of an Old California Mine

Over 4th of July weekend we went camping in the Eastern Sierras. The bonus was a Jeep ride to explore a deserted California mine. It's called the Chemung Mine, which may not have been gold, (possibly silver or ore) but the history is unclear so it's hard to say. 

Weathered wood, bullet shells, rusty nails, tattered roofs and gigantic gears were easily accessible without any crowds or tourist centers. We took our chances walking around, which was thrilling for older kids who don't usually get to do dangerous things. I was fascinated by the 100 year old nuts and bolts holding the beams together, reflecting a century of accomplishment. 

April 19, 2016

Yosemite Spring 2016

This is our third year in a row spending spring break in Yosemite. It's a great time of year because it's possible to get a campsite mid-week, and the waterfalls are usually in full swing. This being an El Nino year, the falls were doing their absolute best at drought busting! Some highlights of this trip included making it midway on the Upper Yosemite Falls trail, and climbing 700 Mist Trail steps near Vernal Falls the next day. My only regret is that the Pacific Crest Dogwood trees had not bloomed yet. But as you can tell by the blue skies, they were budding and well on their way! As always, I can't wait to return.

February 17, 2016

Shrek: Preparing for the School Musical

We waited years to participate in the school musical. Some type of hesitation always came up, usually about the massive time commitment. But this year we had a plan. It would be a family commitment, known well in advance, and we would dive in and meet the challenge head on. So schedules were re-arranged, sports were put on hold, and full days (and weekends) were endured. The kids jumped into their roles, and hearing them sing songs at home was an added bonus. I was tasked with set and stage production, and am enjoying the process so far. We turned our carport into a set painting studio, which makes me think...why don't I paint outside more often? The big performance dates are yet to come. Will I still be standing two weeks from now? Let's hope so, because I certainly don't want to turn into an Ogre.