Monday, February 28, 2011

March Marvels

This is my monthly list of free and low cost events around the greater Portland area.  I put this list together for the homeschool group we belong to, which includes kids 8 and under, but many of the events have wider appeal.  I look for events with cultural or educational value.  Please doublecheck anything you'd like to attend, because mistakes,  typos, and cancellations happen! 

Mr. Ben.” He will perform Saturday, March 5, 3PM, Beaverton City Library Meeting Rooms A and B, and Wednesday, March 16, 10:30AM, at Hollywood Library. He also has regular gigs around town. They are on Mondays at 10AM at Posie’s, 8208 N. Denver Avenue, Pdx, as well as Tuesdays at 10:30AM at Milagros Boutique, 5433 NE 30th Avenue, Pdx, $3 per walking human, Wednesdays at 10AM (except the 16th) at Eco Baby Gear, 2122 SE Division Street, Pdx, $5 suggested donation, Wednesdays at 4PM at Curious Comedy Theatre, Adults $6 and Children $3 (which has the advantage of a dinner menu and tons of space), Thursdays at 10AM at Mississippi Treehouse, 3742 N Mississippi Ave, Pdx, and Fridays at 10AM at Branch and Birdie, 8021 SE Stark St., Pdx. He introduces playing the ukulele to kids as young as 3. “Though most people know me as a performer, I think of myself first and foremost as an educator. Music education is the real motivation for why I do what I do. I believe that music should be and can be more accessible to all people. My primary goal is to eradicate the myth that some people are simply “non-musical.” We are all musical, and anybody can learn to play music. Yes, even you.”

Mo Philips”, Wednesday, March 2, 12:30PM, Silver Falls Library, 410 South Water St., Silverton, OR. “ Join musician Mo Phillips for lots of awesome songs and the chance to form a supercrazy onetime band that will write, perform and record a couple of tunes in about an hour. Don't think we can pull it off? Check out the music page at and listen to some of the crazy cuts from past Rock-N-Roll Kindy shows!” Mo also has regular gigs every Tuesday at 10AM at Posie’s Café, 8208 N. Denver Avenue, Pdx., and every Thursday at 10:30AM at Milagros Boutique, 5433 NE 30th Ave, Pdx., $3 per walking human, and Thursday, March 10, at 6PM at Mississipi Pizza, 3552 N Mississippi Ave, $5 per family, as well as  Sunday, March 13th and Sunday, March 27  at 10AM at Flying Cat Coffee, 3041 SE Division St. “Mo performs interactive shows that respect the intelligence of young people with wit and irreverence, without being strictly scatological. This is music built for kids and parents alike! Mo does not dumb down lyrics or melodies for kids to "understand", and therefore sings about things whole families can appreciate. A fine, distilled blend of Americana, Soul and Blues, while not being afraid of a poppy hook or straight rockin' out.”

"Professor Banjo", Every Monday at 10AM at Flying Cat Coffee, 3041 SE Division St., Pdx.; every Wednesday at 10:30AM at the Warehouse Café, 3434 SE Milwaukie Ave., every Wednesday at 1PM at Milagros Boutique, 5433 NE 30th Ave., Pdx. $3 per walking human; and every Thursday (not including the 24th this month) at 4PM at Branch and Birdie, 8021 SE Stark, Pdx. "Paul Silveria performs for families as the banjo-slinging, old-time singing "Professor Banjo" entertaining children with sing-a-longs, dancing games, and stories, all accompanied by lively old-time music that parents can enjoy, too! Professor Banjo's shows are fun for a wide range of ages - from toddlers to tweens who still like to get up and dance around!" Professor Banjo is awesome!

Symphony Storytime”, Wednesdays in March at 12:15PM, Kenton Library. “Storytimes feature musicians from the Oregon Symphony performing music that enhances and deepens the storytelling experience. Each storytime features one of the four families of musical instruments: strings, woodwinds, brass, and percussion. A craft session where children make their own instruments out of common household items and an instrument petting zoo follow the storytimes. Children and their parents also receive a specially made bookmark with suggested reading and recommended CD's featuring the storytime instruments.”

Hands-On Math for Homeschoolers”, Thursday, March 3, and Thursday, March 10, 1:30PM, Ledding Library of Milwaukie. “Math-based games and crafts for homeschoolers ages 5 & up.” 

The Elixir of Love”, Thursday, March 3, 7PM, Kennedy School Gymnasium, 5736 N.E. 33rd Ave., Pdx.; and Sunday, March 13, 2PM, Edgefield Blackberry Hall, 2126 S.W. Halsey St., Troutdale, OR. “Got kids? Intimidated by the idea of opera? Here is your opportunity to introduce opera to your kids and maybe to yourself, with the Portland Opera To Go series. First up: A rollicking, 50-minute, English-language version of Donizetti's brilliantly funny coming of age tale, The Elixir of Love. Nemorino has a problem. Klutzy and shy, he is madly in love with the beautiful Adina...but she is swept away by dashing fly-boy, Belcore. Enter a charming rogue named Dulcamara, with miracles to sell-including a very potent potion he is calling an elixir of love. Will it change everything for Nemorino? Or do the true answers lie within his heart? After The Elixir of Love, join us for a concert of operas greatest hits-a great way to get familiar with the genre. We guarantee, you won't think of opera in the same way again.”

Ronnie Robbins, a Rythmic Road Trip Around Brazil”, Thursday, March 3, 3:30PM, Belmont Library (free tickets will be given out at 3PM). and Saturday, March 5, 2PM, Ledding Library of Milwaukie. “Grab a seat as we travel up the east coast of Brazil, defining each region by its music, rhythms, instruments and culture. Children will have a chance to play percussion instruments and clap along while Ronnie Robins takes them on a musical journey with his voice and his guitar. Sounds and rhythms will be woven into a short, cultural and entertaining tale.” 

Your Farm In The City”, Friday, March 4, 7PM, Powell’s at Cedar Hills Crossing, 3415 SW Cedar Hills Blvd., Beaverton, OR. This event is intended for adults, but may be of particular interest to homeschoolers growing or raising food firsthand. “The most complete book yet on the subject of urban farming, Lisa Taylor's Your Farm in the City (Black Dog & Leventhal) covers everything from growing organic produce and raising chickens to running a small farm on a city lot or in a suburban backyard. Created by Lisa Taylor and the gardeners of Seattle Tilth, Your Farm in the City covers all of the essential information specific to gardening and farming in a city or town. Clear, easy-to-follow instructions guide and inspire even the most inexperienced urbanite in how to grow and harvest all types of produce, flowers, herbs, and trees, as well as how to raise livestock like chickens, ducks, rabbits, goats, and honeybees. Important information particular to gardening in a city or town is included, such as planning and maximizing limited space, building healthy soil, managing irrigation, understanding zoning laws, outwitting urban pests, and being a considerate farming neighbor.” 

South East Area Art Walk”, Saturday, March 5, and Sunday, March 6, free. "Over 180 artists, many in 'native environments' will be showing their works and meeting art lovers over the first weekend of March. What a wonderful way to spend a day...wandering around Southeast Portland, experiencing sculpture, painting, jewelry, pottery, photography, encaustic, print-making, textile...almost every conceivable medium for expression… And much of these will be in the homes and studios of the artists themselves, allowing you to get to know our local artists." Tons more info here:

"Portland Youth Spelling Bee", Saturday, March 5, 1PM (sign-ups at 12:45PM), Mississippi Pizza, 3552 N. Mississippi Ave., Pdx. The spelling bee has three different difficulty levels, and is open to kids 5-18. Prizes are given to the winners, and every participant gets a treat. I asked Molly Newman, the host of this cool event, how the spelling bee works specifically for younger kids. Her reply: "Our Junior category at the Spelling Bee is for kids in approximately grades K-2 or ages 5-7, though I encourage everyone to compete in whichever round they feel most comfortable in (and kids can compete in more than one round, too)." Check it out!

Guided Nature Walks”, Saturdays, 10AM-11:30AM, Tryon Creek State Park. “Join a park ranger for a free, guided nature hike to explore the forest and stream ecosystems and natural history at Tryon Creek State Natural Area. Topics will vary from week to week but will be appropriate for all ages. Parents must accompany kids on all hikes.” March 5: Conifers of the Creek; March 12: Signs of Wildlife; March 19: Ethnobotany; March 26: Tryon Tour of the Bridges Part 1.

Owl Fest”, Saturday, March 5, 4-7PM, Tryon Creek State Park, free. “Portland is teeming with owl activity in the springtime months. If you love owls, come out to Tryon Creek State Natural Area for an evening of Owl Celebration! Activities for the entire family including owl pellet dissection, book reading and signing by local authors, snacks by Clif Bar, owl house construction, guided hikes and up close encounters with the Audubon Education Owls – Hazel and Julio! Appropriate for all ages. No registration required. Guided hikes are on a first come, first served basis, so please sign up when you check in.”

Mi Piñata”, Saturday, March 5, 2PM, St. Johns Library, Saturday, March 12, 1PM at Sellwood-Moreland Library, Saturday, March 19, 1PM at Gregory Heights Library, Saturday, March 26, 2PM, at Kenton Library, and Sunday, March 27, 2PM, at Fairview-Columbia Library. “In this hands-on workshop, students will learn about the Mexican piñata and the meaning and role of this tradition in Mexican celebrations. Under the instruction of Nelda Reyes and Gerardo Calderon, participants will craft their own traditional cardboard piñata and decorate it with colored papers. As they complete their project, they will learn the traditional piñata song and lyrics.”

"Urban Goat Keeping 101", Sunday, March 6, 2-3:30PM, Hollywood Library.   "Are you curious about raising goats in Portland? Come meet Kenya Spiegel of Sowing Circle Farm and her little goat, Bird, as they share with you everything you ever wanted to know about raising goats in the city. They will cover all the basics of food, shelter, health and city regulations. Come see first hand just how fun having goats can be!"

Wood Sculpture Open Studio”, Monday, March 7, 3:30PM- 4:30PM, The Warehouse, 3434 SE Milwaukie Ave., Pdx. $10. Suggested for ages 4 and up. “Come construct! During this open studio time we will focus on free creation as we experiment with real hand tools. Construct and deconstruct, build and sculpt. Tools will include child sized hammers and nails, hand crank drills, low-temp hot glue guns, sandpaper, string, wire and more.” Preregistration required. Email for a registration form.

One City’s Wilderness”, Monday, March 7, 7:30PM, Powell’s on Hawthorne, 3723 SE Hawthorne Blvd, Pdx.  This book sounds pretty amazing, and useful for anyone wanting to spend more time exploring outdoors in Portland.  Meet the author, Marcy Cottrell Houle. “Situated in the rugged hills west of Portland, Forest Park is one of the largest urban parks in the world. Marcy Cottrell Houle's updated and expanded edition of One City's Wilderness (OSU Press) provides directions to 29 hikes of varying length, difficulty, and scenery, covering every trail within the 5,100-acre park. Each hike is illustrated with a new, full-color map.” 

"The Universe in Infared",  Monday, March 7, 7PM and 8:15PM, Mt. Hood Community College Planetarium, $2. "All shows are presented under a realistic representation of the night sky, featuring the latest galactic, stellar and planetary images."

Art-works!” Tuesday, March 8, 3:30-5PM, Tualatin Library. “Have you ever wondered how picture book artists make their artwork? This program offers an introduction to art techniques using some of literature’s most beloved picture book authors. Each session will introduce kids to an art concept, a story that demonstrate it, and art supplies that will allow kids to explore their creativity. Using only hot water, soap and a little elbow grease, you'll learn the traditional craft of feltmaking. We'll 'paint' a picture with dyed wool. Come make a fiber art masterpiece with teacher LeBrie!” Suggested for kids 5-11. Register online: 

Music in Action with Rich Glauber”, Tuesday, March 8, 7PM, Tigard Public Library Community Room. “Become a participant and a performer when musician Rich Glauber entices everyone to sing, clap, move and laugh together!”

An Irish Ceili”, Friday, March 11, 7PM, Tigard Public Library. “Start celebrating St. Patrick's Day early with a fun, lively program featuring Sam Keator and the Winds of Donegal. In the spirit of a traditional ceili (community social gathering), enjoy live Irish musicians, stories and learn some traditional dance steps. Oregon author Gemma Whelan will promote her new book "Fiona : Stolen Child". All ages welcome!” 

Portland Cello Project”, Friday, March 11, Concert starts at 7:15pm. Doors open at 6:45pm. Community Music Center, 3350 SE Francis Street. Pdx. Suggested Donation: $5 per person or $15 for a family. Light refreshments for sale. “The cello is more-or-less the only constant in this amorphous collective from Portland, Oregon. In the course of one of PCP's shows (the format of which is always a one-time affair the group writes almost entirely new arrangements for every performance cycle) you just might see sights such as: old ladies, straight out of the symphony hall nodding their head to cello hip-hop; young children playing air cello while dancing to 16 cellos; hipsters too-cool-for-school mesmerized by Arvo Paert; and of course: a symphony of cellos.”

Rock and Mineral Show”, Friday March 11, and Saturday, March 12, 10AM-6PM, and Sunday March 13, 10AM-5PM. Washington County Fairgrounds, Hillsboro, OR. Admission $1 or adults, and free for kids 12 and under with a paying adult. Easily accessible by MAX. A marvelous excursion for rockhounds young and old, especially when combined with a visit to the nearby Rice NW Museum of Rocks and Minerals.

Rick Meyers Old Time Music Show”, Saturday, March 12. 2:30 PM, Hillsboro Main Library. “This exciting musical adventure features a delightful mix of historical information, audience participation, and pioneer music played on the banjo, guitar, autoharp, spoons, musical saw, jewsharp, noseflute, limberjack, harmonica, ukulele, washboard, and washtub bass.” Rick Meyers’ show is really terrific. Don’t miss it!

Portland Country Dance Community Family Dance”, Saturday, March 12, 5-7PM, Fulton Community Center, 68 SW Miles Street, Pdx. Paul Silveria, otherwise known as Professor Banjo, calls the PCDC Family Dance. “This program will feature a range of dances, from figures geared toward preschoolers, to simple squares and reels that school-aged kids will enjoy. The dance is also followed by a potluck dinner! $6 for adults, $5 for kids.”
"Sellwood St. Patrick's Day Parade", Saturday, March 12. beginning at 12PM, St. Agatha School, 7960 SE 15th St., Pdx. "Starting at noon today, St. Agatha Catholic School in Sellwood will hold its annual St. Patrick’s Day Festival and Parade, open to all; hundreds of people will kick off the festival with the parade through the main streets of the Sellwood and Westmoreland neighborhoods. The parade will feature the Sellwood Middle School Marching Band, an Irish bagpiper, Irish Wolfhounds, Portland Fire & Rescue’s Truck 20, Portland Police’s Traffic Division’s motorcycle police, children with decorated bikes and wagons, and a lot of people proudly wearing Irish green. The parade starts at noon and returns at St. Agatha School, 7960 SE 15th, and will be followed by a carnival, cakewalk, live music, Irish dancers, food, and a beer garden for the adults, with a Catholic mass in St. Agatha Church at 5 pm."

Quizissippi Jr.”, Saturday, March 12, 1PM, Mississippi Pizza, 3552 N. Mississippi Ave., Pdx. “Quizissippi, Jr. is Portland's only family-friendly trivia event. Teams of up to 5 people can play (kids 4 and younger aren't counted), and there's a mix of grownup- and kid-friendly questions so the whole family can enjoy. The questions are a mix of G-rated questions that adults may be able to answer and questions about kid-specific topics (dinosaurs! kids' TV shows! toys! video games!). There's also a multimedia round which features clips from kid/family-oriented movies and TV shows (as well as video questions like ‘What is this animal?’).”

Nancy Drew and the Case of the Missing Letter”, Free community theatre, Friday, March 12 at 7PM, and Saturday, March 13 at 2:30PM, Multnomah Arts Center, 7688 SW Capitol Highway, Pdx. 

Recycled Art”, Saturday, March 12, 2PM, Central Library, and Saturday, March 19, 2PM, Albina Library. “Transform trash into art! Find new and inventive ways for recycling those items you normally throw away. Under the instruction of artist Lisa Kagan, participants will learn how to create sculptures and unique works of art out of recycled materials such as cans, newspapers, containers and other uncommon treasures. Supplies will be obtained from SCRAP, the School and Community Reuse Action Project.” 

Tikki Tikki Tembo”, Saturday, March 12, 4PM, Holgate Library, Wednesday, March 23, 2PM, Ledding Library of Milwaukie, and Thursday, March 24, 1:30PM, Hillsdale Library (free tickets will be given out at 1PM). “Don’t go near the well, you will surely fall in,” warned the mother of two young boys. The two brothers played near the well, they walked on the well and Chang fell into the well. Oh no! Can his big brother get help in time to save him? Whew! Yes, the old man with the ladder got there in time. But what happened when Tikki tikki tembo-no sa rembo-chari bari ruchi-pip peri pembo, with his great long name, fell into the well? Don’t miss the fun as Tears of Joy Theatre puppeteer Emily Alexander performs this beloved story by Arlene Mosel. 

Brick Builders”, Saturday, March 12, 10:30AM- 11:30AM, Beaverton City Library Storytime Room. “Come and make a connection as we create, build and challenge with all things LEGO. Registration is required. Please phone (503)350-3600 to register or sign-up in person at the Children's Desk on the first floor of the library. Registration for each session begins one month before the program.” Suggested for grades 1-5. 

Travis Brass Concert”, Sunday, March 12, 3PM, Central Library. “Travis Brass is the resident brass group of the United States Air Force Band of the Golden West. Its wide-ranging programs, spanning musical history from medieval times to patriotic military presentations through the contemporary sounds of today, have enthralled audiences throughout the western United States. It is one of the six performing musical groups that make up the USAF Band of the Golden West.”

Open Your Eyes to Wildlife--Teacher Workshop for K-8 Educators”, Saturday, March 12th, 8:30am-2:00pm, Tualatin River National Wildlife Refuge, Sherwood, OR. “Registration information and details to be announced soon. Join this workshop to learn about the tools and resources provided for teachers who want to bring their students to the Refuge.”

Vernal Equinox Celebration”, Saturday, March 12, 7:30PM-11:30PM, Rooster Rock State Park and Stub Stewart State Park, $5 parking per vehicle or a State Park pass. “From beginners to experts of all ages, here’s your opportunity to view the stars and other celestial objects up close and personal through telescopes. Viewing highlights includes the planets Jupiter, Mercury, and Saturn, first quarter Moon, deep sky objects including the Orion Nebula, Beehive star cluster and more! Sometimes we can even view the International Space Station passing overhead. There is no formal registration for the event itself, just show up and enjoy the evening. You don’t even need a telescope to participate; other members are enthusiastic to share their views. This is a good opportunity for beginners to get acquainted. Come and observe your favorite objects and spend a wonderful evening with friends, and friends you haven’t met yet.” If you are planning to go, be sure to call 503-797-4610 #2 after 3PM on the day of the Star Party to make sure they’ve determined that the skies are clear enough for this event to happen. This time of year it’s far from a sure thing, but these are wonderful events when they happen! Lots more info here:

Urban Iditarod”, Saturday, March 12 a bunch of wackos pretending to be husky dogs will once again pull shopping cart sleds through the streets of Portland. "In the Alaskan Iditarod, more than sixty dog sled teams race across the frozen tundra from Anchorage to Nome. In our urban version, teams of ‘dogs’ lead by a musher will pull their sleds (shopping carts) through some of Portland’s most scenic areas. These teams of barking humans must negotiate through the unrelenting and unforgiving dangers of Portland’s urban frontier." Doesn't that sound like fun to watch? Spectator information is traditionally provided the day before: Why is this event on this list? Surely watching it would be educational, and…cultural? 

St. Patrick’s Day Parade”, Saturday, March 12, 11AM, Downtown Hillsboro, OR. Lots of green, lots of horses, LOTS of candy tosses. A big family favorite. 

"Grow Your Own Greenhouse", Saturday, March 12, 10AM, Oregon Garden, 879 W. Main St., Silverton, OR.  Suggested for kids 5-10, $5 plus admission which is $7 adults, $6 seniors, $5 kids 8-17, and free for kids 7 and under. "Join Oregon Garden Horticulture staff as they  help kids create a greenhouse of their very own.  Kids will plant seeds and create small greenhouses to take home."

***Daylight Savings Time Begins at 2AM Sunday March 13!*** Clocks are moved ahead one hour! 

Kid’s Drawing Party With Mark Teague”, Sunday, March 13, 2PM, Powell’s at Cedar Hills Crossing, 3415 SW Cedar Hills Blvd., Beaverton, OR. “In LaRue across America, bestselling, award-winning author and illustrator Mark Teague makes readers laugh aloud when LaRue goes on vacation with Mrs. Hibbins's cats. Join us for this special children's drawing party hosted by Mark Teague!” 

Kids in Nature- Woodpeckers”, Sunday, March 13, 10:00AM- 11:30AM, Tryon Creek State Park, $10. “Woodpeckers are an important part of the forest ecosystem. Join us as we discover how woodpeckers search for food and make homes for themselves and other creatures. We will interactively explore the adaptations of woodpeckers. On the trail we’ll search the forest for the sights and sounds of woodpeckers at work.” Recommended for ages 4-7. Preregistration required.

"It's a Che-Mystery!", Monday, March 14. 10AM-11:30AM, Mad Science Lab, 1522 N. Ainsworth St., Pdx. $15 per student, suggested for grades K-5.  Preregistration required. "Eliminate the mystery in chemistry. Explore one of the most fundamental sciences as you grow a crazy crystal garden."

Beginning Embroidery”, Monday, March 14, 3:30PM-4:30PM, The Warehouse, 3434 SE Milwaukie Ave., Pdx. $10. Suggested for kids ages 4 and up, and adults. “Embroidery is a popular and timeless art form. It is fun and versatile, and with an understanding of basic stitches, you can create from patterns or express your own ideas using just needle and thread. We will make a sampler of stitches, and talk about reading patterns and designing our own. Younger children may simply enjoy using a needle and thread, whereas older students will be able to learn a wider variety of techniques. In this class we assist all students where they are at. Embroidery kits to take home will be available for purchase for $5.” Preregistration required. Email for a registration form.

Brongaene Griffin”, Monday, March 14, 12PM, Portland Center for the Performing Arts, Antionette Hatfield Hall Rotunda Lobby, 1111 SW Broadway, Pdx. Free. “Brongaene Griffin, gifted Portland fiddler, returns to PCPA Noontime Showcase with members of Cul An Ti. Griffin’s music is based on traditional Irish tunes and complemented by splashes of original content. Her music ranges from dreamy, thought-provoking melodies to get-up-out-of-your-chair foot stompin’ dance tunes. Members of Cul An Ti, one of the Pacific NW’s most exciting Irish Bands, will join Griffin for this special performance.” Suggested for ages 5 and up. Seating is limited, so my suggestion is to get there early.

All-Ireland Cultural Society’s St. Patrick’s Day Festival”, Thursday, March 17, 4PM-9PM, Ambridge Event Center, 376 NE Clackamas Ave, Pdx. $10 adults, $5 12-20 years, free for kids 11 and under with paying adult. Corned beef suppers served from 4-7:30, purchase supper tickets at the door. “Schedule of Activities and Performers: 4:00 Doors Open, 4:00 – 7:00 Children’s Activity Area, Face Painting 4:45 - Grand Opening with the TVF&R Pipe & Drums 5:30 - Tír Eoghain Céilí Entertainers 6:00 – 7:00 Parrots-4-Show, live parrot show 6:30 – Dance and enjoy the music of an Irish Traditional Band 8:15 - Molly Malone Irish Dancers 9:00 - Closing of Annual Festival.” 

St. Patrick’s Day Celebration at Hotel Oregon”, Thursday, March 17, 310 NE Evans St., McMinnville, OR. All ages welcome, free. “Spend our favorite holiday with us! We'll have McMenamins handcrafted Irish Stout on tap, along with live music, bagpipers, Irish dancers, food and drink specials and more . 
In the Paragon Room (all ages):  Bob Soper & Elizabeth Nicholson * Traditional Irish * 11 a.m. (Irish dance troupe) 
In Mattie's Room (all ages) Irish Dancers * Irish dance troupe * 5:30 p.m. The Mustaches * Folk/rock/bluegrass * 7 p.m. 
In the Cellar Bar (21 & over): The Brothers Dunne * Traditional Irish * 7 p.m..” 

St. Patrick’s Day Celebration at Grand Lodge”, Thursday, March 17, 3505 Pacific Ave., Forest Grove, OR. All ages welcome, free. "Spend our favorite holiday with us! We'll have McMenamins handcrafted Irish Stout on tap, along with live music, bagpipers, Irish dancers, food and drink specials and more.
At the Ironwork Grill (all ages):  Hanz Araki Trio * Traditional Irish * 11 a.m. 
In the Compass Room Theater (all ages): Irish Dancers * Irish Dance Troupe * 6:30 p.m. Blarney Thursday * Irish jams * 7 p.m.  
At the Yardhouse Pub (all ages): Sky in the Road *World music * 7 p.m. 
At the Garage Door (all ages): Will West & the Friendly Strangers * Smooth roots groove * 7 p.m.”

St. Patrick’s Day Celebration at Edgefield”, Thursday, March 17-Saturday, March 19, 2126 SW Halsey St., Troutdale, OR. Three days of free events, most all ages, free. Irish dancers, Irish music, bagpipes. Details here:

St. Patrick’s Day Celebration at Kennedy School”, Thursday, March 17, 5736 NE 33rd Ave., Pdx. All ages, free. “Spend our favorite holiday with us! We'll have McMenamins handcrafted Irish Stout on tap, along with live music, bagpipers, Irish dancers, food and drink specials, and more. 
In the Courtyard (all ages): Colleen Raney * Traditional Irish * 4 p.m. 
In the Gym (all ages):  Irish Family Hooley * Irish family rock * 4 p.m. Irish Dancers * Irish Dance Troupe * 5:30 p.m. Dave Mayfield Parade * Rock/Americana/folk * 7 p.m.”

Irish Festival”, Thursday, March 17- Saturday, March 19. Kells Restaurant, 112 SW Second Ave., Pdx. There will be dancers, musicians, pipers, and Irish foods. Saturday all family events are free during the day. Lots of details on their website:

Gem Faire”, Friday, March 18, 12PM-6PM, Saturday, March 19, 10AM-6PM, and Sunday, March 20, 10AM-5PM, Washington County Fairgrounds, Hillsboro, OR. $7 adult weekend pass, kids 12 and under are free. Gem Faire is more focused on the bead trade than regular rock and mineral shows, but there is still a great deal for young rockhounds to see. 

Trillium Tour”, Friday, March 18, 9:30AM-12PM, Forest Park, $10 per person. (Members of the Forest Park Conservancy join hikes for free. Memberships are $50/yr for families and $35/yr for individuals.) “Join Stephen Hatfield, FPC's Stewardship Director and resident naturalist, for a loop hike in the central management unit. We will take in the new spring growth - including what promises to be another superlative trillium bloom - and discuss other related items of interest as we hike. The hike will cover 4-5 miles over moderate terrain.” They have told me that children are welcome on these hikes as long as the distance is a reasonable one for them, and that the hikes take place on private land owned by the Forest Park Conservancy. More details and registration are here:

Snailpeople!”, Saturday, March 19, 10:30AM, The Warehouse, 3434 SE Milwaukie Ave., Pdx. “Join music duo Snailpeople! for classic and original kids music, accompanied with guitar, ukulele, mandolin, banjo, and more!” 

Carson Ellis”, Saturday, March 19, 2PM, Green Bean Books, 1600 NE Alberta St., Pdx. Carson Ellis is a children’s book illustrator of note who lives in Portland.

Spring Whale Watching Week”, Saturday, March 19- Saturday, March 26, 10AM-1PM. Trained volunteers will be present at 26 locations along the Oregon coast to help visitors spot gray whales. More info here: Bear in mind that whales may be hard to spot, and finding a boat tour that will take you closer to them may be a better option with young kids along. Many are surprisingly affordable. 

What’s Up With the Weather?”, Saturday, March 19, 1:30PM, Tigard Public Library Puett Room. “A hydrologist with the National Weather Service will blow into the Library, along with his tornado machine.” Suggested for ages 5 and up. 

Paper Flowers/Flores de Papel”, Saturday, March 19, 11AM, Troutdale Library. “Learn how to make exuberant paper flowers using colorful tissue paper.” 

Paper Flowers For Spring”, Saturday, March 19, 2PM, Northwest Library. “Artist Shanon Schollian will show you how to create beautiful paper flowers to celebrate spring.” 

Full Moon Nature Walks”, Saturday, March 19, 7:30PM- 9PM, at four locations around Portland. $5 per family or $2 per individual. Children under 12 must be accompanied by an adult, and infants must be carried in backpacks or slings.  "Meet a naturalist for an ‘after hours’ walk during the full moon. Hear the chirps of birds settling in for the night, the hoots of owls as they search for prey, and other nighttime activity. Learn about the spring equinox which is the next day.” FOUR LOCATIONS: 
SE Portland: Powell Butte Nature Park - Course code 343691
NE Portland: Columbia Children's Arboretum - Course code 343689
NW Portland: Hoyt Arboretum - Course code 343692 
SW Portland: Gabriel Park - Course code 343693
Please be dressed for the weather! This walk takes place rain or moonshine! We will be using our night vision, but you may wish to carry a flashlight.  REGISTRATION is REQUIRED: Registration is not available online. Please call 503-823-2525 to register. Refer to course code. Space is limited!” Presented by Portland Parks and Recreation.

"Stub Stewart Spring Break Family Fun”, Saturday, Mar 19, through Sunday, Mar 27, at L.L. Stub Stewart State Park. Schedule and topics TBA.

"The Beauty of Oregon's Carousels", Sunday, March 20, 2PM, St. Johns Library.  "Did you know about Oregon’s carousels? Carousels have entertained people of all ages for hundreds of years, and Oregon is fortunate to have multiple carousels including those at Jantzen Beach, Oaks Amusement Park, Seaside and Salem’s Riverfront Park. This program will include a short video on carousels by Darrell Jabin, producer of various films about Oregon history. After the viewing, Darrell will lead a discussion on the history of carousels."  Mr. Jabin says that the presentation will also include "a powerpoint on the Albany Carousel presented by Tyson Brown, the volunteer coordinator at the Albany Carousel project. Tyson brings pictures and parts of one of the animals that is being carved for the project."

"More Than Just A Bee Movie", Sunday, March 20, 2:30PM, Troutdale Library.  Are you afraid of bees? You won’t bee after learning about their magical ways with Brian Lacy, apiarist and bee enthusiast since the age of 14. This visual presentation is filled with filmed clips and stills that surround children with the sights and sounds of bees and explores the important relationship between humans and bees. After the presentation, children can taste honeycomb, look into a real hive (no bees) and handle equipment that beekeepers use in the field.

Baba Wagué Diakité”, Sunday, March 20, 2PM, Central Library. “Baba Wagué Diakité is a well known artist and storyteller from Mali, West Africa. Before Mali was a country, it was a great empire whose deeds are still passed down from generation to generation. Baba will tell the 13th century epic story of the creation of the Mali Empire from Sogolon the Hunchback Woman--the spirit of the Buffalo and Maghan the Handsome—the spirit of the Lion. Their invalid son, the great Sundiata Keita grows up to unite the twelve kingdoms of Mali and create one of the greatest empires of Africa.”

Mad Science Presents, “Spin! Pop! Boom!”, Monday, March 21, 11AM, Tualatin Public Library. “How do you know that a chemical reaction has occurred? Start with a change of color in our chemically challenging "magic" trick. Move on to an assortment of experiments featuring both chemical and physical changes. Watch in awe as the mad scientist creates numerous versions of erupting science. Everything is guaranteed to be amazing!” Highly recommended.

Glowing Light Sabers and Capes!”, Monday, March 21, 3:30-4:30PM, The Warehouse, 3434 SE Milwaukie Ave., Pdx. $10, and you must bring your own small flashlight. Suggested for ages 4 and up. “Come make your own glowing Jedi weapon, and use phosphorescent paint to decorate a glow in the dark cape! Please bring a small flashlight to class, and until then, may the force be with you.” Preregistration required. Email for a registration form.

Spring Bird Walk”, Monday, March 21, 3:30-4:30PM, Hillsboro Main Library. “For kids in grades 1-3. Spring is just around the corner. Let's go outside and look for signs of spring, including migratory birds, plants, and anything else we can discover. Dress for cold, wet weather and wear comfortable walking shoes. (Registration required - online or at the library.)” I am currently unable to find the page on the Hillsboro Library’s website which would allow online registration and give up to date info if this event is full. Their number is 503-615-6500. 

Doctor Noize Live!”, Monday, March 21, 11AM, Troutdale Library, and Tuesday, March 22, 2PM, Gresham Library. “Doctor Noize is a family musician, children’s book author and children’s workshop facilitator. He creates interactive showz, muzic and bookz that inspire noizy kids and adventurous adults to explore music and creativity together. His shows are energetic, engaging, interactive, educational and fun, and have earned Doctor Noize rave reviews and two national Top Ten hits!”

Spring Break Exploration Days”, Monday, March 22 through Saturday, March 25th, 1-3PM, free.Tualatin River National Wildlife Refuge, Sherwood, OR. Need a Spring Break adventure? Come discover the natural wonders of wildlife of the Tualatin River National Wildlife Refuge. This family-oriented event will feature hands-on nature activities for kids. Activities are free. Meet at the Wildlife Center.

BJ’s Backyard Clown Show”, Tuesday, March 22, 4PM, Woodstock Library, Saturday, March 26, 4PM, at Rockwood Library, and Thursday, March 31, 3PM, at Midland Library. “Enjoy this fast paced comedy-variety-clown show with an exciting mix of magic, juggling, puppets, music, physical comedy and audience participation! BJ the Clown has performed over 1,500 comedy shows in public libraries for nearly 20 years. Nobody knows more than BJ about what makes children laugh!” 

Adventures in Reading with Brian Reed”, Wednesday, March 23, 3PM, Lake Oswego Library. “Join the crew of Captain Bob’s pirate ship as he searches for the world’s greatest treasures. This rollicking show includes magic, juggling, and reading motivation. “I think kids spend way too much time in front of the TV these days,” says Brian Reed. “I am delighted to bring smiles and live performance into children’s lives…It’s so much more valuable than watching a screen.” Reed performs around the Metro area as Bobo the clown and dozens of other characters. He has a theater degree and has been performing for kids since 1986.”

"Wooden Train Playtime", Wednesday, March 23, 10AM, Gresham Library.  "Children ages 2 and up (with a favorite adult) who enjoy trains can put together and run wooden trains in the library. This fun-filled program connects junior train fans with creative and imaginative play activities."  This is actually a pretty cool event. Check it out!

"Toys for Ramona", Wednesday, March 23. 10:30AM, Central Library, and Saturday, March 26, 2PM, Gresham Library.  "The children on Klickitat Street created many imaginary games and the necessary toys to go with them. Learn how Ramona made her own instruments, stilts, and other inventions out of bottle caps, plastic containers, tin cans, and other common household materials. Great for children ages 4-10 and their families."

Emperor's New Clothes”, Thursday, March 24, 3PM, Forest Grove Library. “A Reader's Theater performance by Young at Heart for ages 5 and up in the childrens area. Reader's Theater is a dramatic presentation of a story using scripts and props."

All Ages Anime”, Thursday, March 24, 4PM, Tigard Public Library. “Bring your whole family for an anime film and Japanese crafts and snacks!” 

Michio Kaku”, Thursday, March 24, 7:30PM, Powell’s City of Books, 1005 W. Burnside, Pdx. B Mr. Kaku is pretty darn cool. He’s a theoretical physicist with the City University of New York, and if you’ve watched many science documentaries, you’re likely to have seen him easily explaining some very complicated and very fascinating ideas. I know some of you have kids that won’t want to miss meeting him! “With Physics of the Future (Doubleday), Michio Kaku, author of Physics of the Impossible, offers a stunning and provocative vision of the future, and explains how science will shape human destiny and everyone's daily life by the year 2100.”

Circus Workshops”, Saturday, March 26 and Sunday, March 27. Circus Artemis has a series of circus and acrobatics workshops for kids and adults. “Handstands, Juggling, Partner Acrobatics, Clowning, Stilt Walking and more! Sampler classes for beginners of all ages in aerial and ground acts. Intermediate and advanced aerial classes.” Check out details and register online:

Dragon Theatre Puppets Present, “Rapunzel Redeems Rumpelstiltskin”, Friday, March 25, 7PM, Hillsboro Main Library. “Both fairy tales collide as if they were happening at the same time! See what happens when Rapunzel meets Rumpelstiltskin. He may be crooked but he is the only person Rapunzel has to talk to while in her lonely prison. Eventually Rapunzel meets Prince Charming, but Rumpelstiltskin is the only one who can help to free her from the Witch's tower. “ Always highly recommended!

Tulip Fest” begins at the Wooden Shoe Tulip Farm, March 25- May 1, 33814 S. Meridian Rd., Woodburn, OR. Many families wouldn’t miss this event each spring. There’s lots for little ones to do, and a truly terrific play area. Lots of details here:

Nano Science”, Saturday, March 26, 11AM, Estacada Library, Flora Community Room. “Think small. Think really, really, really small. Smaller than anything you ever saw through a microscope at school. Think of atoms and molecules and that's nano science! Join us for hands-on activities created by the Nanoscale Informal Science Education Network. Celebrate NanoDays, a nation-wide festival of educational programs about nanoscale science. This program is suitable for the whole family.” 

Above and Beyond Linnton”, Saturday, March 26, 8:45-12PM, $10 per person. (Members of the Forest Park Conservancy join hikes for free. Memberships are $50/yr for families and $35/yr for individuals.) “Climb along Linnton Creek to Firelane 10 and the Wildwood Trail. This hike, along firelanes, the Wildwood Trail, Leif Erikson and the Linnton Trail alternates sections of climbing and descending with long level stretches.” This walk is being lead by Laura Foster, author of three cool books about walks in Portland. More information about Ms. Foster here: More information and online registration here:  I emailed the Conservancy to ask if this hike is family friendly, and if they had more details, such as distance and elevation gain.  They replied that they would check with Ms. Foster but have not responded further.

Lego Construction Zone”, Sunday, March 27, 1:30PM- 3PM, Tigard Public Library, Puett Room. Suggested for ages 5 and up. “Drop in to work on your creations with other LEGO® fans. We'll supply the building blocks; you bring your creativity.” 

Nawruz Persian New Year Celebration”, Sunday, March 27, 7:30-11:30PM, Portland State University Smith Building Ballroom, 1825 SW Broadway, Pdx. Suggested Donation $5. “Traditonal anthems, MC welcome, Disco and rhythmic music, New Year gifts for children, Perso-American Dance contest, Raffle drawing, Pastry, Fruit, Tea, and Soft Drinks.”

Hanz Araki and Kathryn Claire", Sunday, March 27, 6PM, Rock Creek Tavern, 10000 NW Old Cornelius Pass Rd., Hillsboro, OR. All ages, free. “Two of the Northwest’s best Irish fiddlers meld their prowess. Hanz Araki: The Japanese-American musician has performed around the world with Irish music groups such as the Juno Award-winning Paperboys and "sexed up" fiddle duo The Bridies. Kathryn Claire: Violinist Kathryn Claire is an active part of the Celtic music community in the Northwest and has been singing and playing fiddle in bands for almost seven years, currently with Circled by Hounds and State and Standard.”

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Snow Day

School was cancelled all over the Portland area today, but homeschool was in full session.  Our group rambled all over, looking for animal tracks in the snow and mud, enjoying the wintery beauty.  It was one of those days when it seemed enough just to listen to the sounds all around us- the gentle plop of snow falling off tree branches, the cry of a hawk, the babble of a creek, the laughter of children.  Time to notice, and time to wonder.

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Planting Trees With SOLV

We've been interested in doing more service learning with Jasper.  It can be tough to find volunteer opportunities where young children can make a meaningful contribution, and especially tough to find one good for Jasper.  At his age, repetitive tasks can make him climb the walls.  He was really excited to try planting trees!  I checked out the website for SOLV, an Oregon-wide organization that gets together volunteers to do positive things for the environment.  This time of year, with frequent rain you can depend on, is a great time for tree planting.  (Other times, there are more opportunities to help with invasive species removal and trash pickups.)  So today we headed to Forest Grove to help plant 250 trees and help restore a watershed.  This area has been densely infested with invasive reed canarygrass, which chokes out every other plant, and stifles the wetland that would otherwise provide habitat for water loving critters like frogs and newts.  It was a very well organized event, with coordinators helping to explain the fine points of tree planting to utter beginners.  After trees were carefully planted, biodegradable coffee bags were staked in the ground with biodegradable plastic stakes made from cornstarch, encircling each tree to prevent the canarygrass from choking out the tree before it has a chance to get established.  Gardening gloves are provided, but I did not expect them to have gloves in kid's sizes, and brought some for Jasper.  Although he was very well bundled up, and had waterproof boots on, he was dismayed to find the mud so thick.  (It seems like only yesterday this would have brought him untold joy!)  He soon would have no part in planting or coffee bagging.  Finally, he figured out a way to help all on his own.  He zoomed around, chatting with everyone,  collecting empty plastic flowerpots and gathering them together for removal.  He was really proud of himself, and the coordinators cheered him on.  

The majority of SOLV's volunteer opportunities are child-friendly, but it's always best to email them to confirm a particular event will be a good fit.   Some locations may be uncomfortably close to busy roads, and some litter collection efforts occasionally turn up syringes.  Another great place to search for volunteer activities in the Portland area is Hands On Greater Portland, a database where many organizations list events.  If you click on "Search Opportunities" and then click on "Display More Options", you will see a box where you can enter a child's age to see what opportunities specifically exist where they will be welcome. I'm always quite surprised to see the variety that are available.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Mt. Talbert Nature Park

Traces of snow.
Hidden in Clackamas, just waiting to be discovered, is Mt. Talbert Nature Park.  It's where you might least expect it, just on the other side of 205 from the Clackamas Town Center mall.  Jasper and I went there to explore and search for signs of spring.  We found a lovely spot with winding trails and lots of tiny gurgling streams. Right near the parking lot, we were treated to a loud chorus of frogs,  but the singers remained invisible.  The trails are well marked, except for one place a vandal seems to have removed the mini trail map but left the signs pointing out the names of each trail.  This lead us to take a wrong turn, which actually brought us to lovely areas of the park we would otherwise have missed, but next time I'll download a trail map!  We chose a loop that winds around the summit of Mt. Talbert, which is an extinct volcano.  There are some paved trails, but most are not paved.  Mt. Talbert Nature Park is home to many Oregon white oaks, which provide unique habitat for species not often seen in other woods.   It's a delightful spot! 
Oak galls.
Spring Queen- wildflowers are already blooming!
View from the summit.

Monday, February 14, 2011

Oaks Bottom Wildlife Refuge

Ice crystals.
Lately  Jasper and I have been wandering around in  Oaks Bottom Wildlife Refuge.  We explored recently on our own, then came back on a different day with our homeschool group.   It's a surprising place, because the streets of Sellwood rise above it so steeply that it's almost totally hidden from view.  Yet it's actually quite a large park, with long trails to explore.    The air was alive with the sounds of birds. This is one of the best places in the city to see birds, who love the marshy areas and the many lovely trees.  A pond has been created specifically to attract amphibians. We are excited to see if we can find frog and salamander eggs there in the spring.  The Springwater Corridor passes through it, making it quite popular with cyclists, but there are also many trails that do not accommodate bicycles.  One end of the park connects to Sellwood Park, which has one of the better playgrounds in the area, as well as a hugely popular outdoor swimming pool.  This is the place to be if you need to add some bird song to your day! 

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Lunar New Year

This weekend we couldn't resist heading over to the Oregon Convention Center to check out the dueling Lunar New Year festivals.  This year, both Tet,  the Vietnamese Year of the Cat, and the Chinese Year of the Rabbit, began on February 3, and two separate celebrations were running together.   In addition to the fun performances (mostly child dancers and acrobats in gorgeous costumes), and of course the tasty food, both celebrations turned out to be full of unexpected surprises.

There were the lovely ladies from the Confucius Institute at PSU, where Chinese language classes are offered for 5th graders and older.  They carefully translated Jasper's name into Chinese characters, to his delight.  Then there was the booth filled with frog-shaped rasp instruments.  They made a wonderful sound.  Since the booth was constantly filled with happy children, it sounded very much like a really lively frog pond.  Jasper brought one home, and now our house sounds like one too.  The Tet festival had quite a few health education booths, where Jasper ran into a most unusual lady.  He tried to steal her heart, but in the end decided to return it.

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Raptor Road Trip

A hawk hiding in the branches.  It had just finished eating a tasty mouse.
Today we went to Sauvie Island for the Raptor Road Trip.  The first stop was at Kruger's Farm Market, where we picked up a Sauvie Island parking pass and a map.  Then we headed out to the tree viewing locations where Metro naturalists were stationed, and lots of scopes were pointed at amazing birds.  Of course it was fabulous to have some professional scopes available, and naturalists there to tell us about what we were looking at.  But I think the very best thing about the Raptor Road Trip was the invitation to come to Sauvie Island for the sole purpose of lingering and paying attention to birds.  Sauvie Island is truly an amazing place to find birds, and raptors in particular.  We kept catching sight of some wonderful birds as we drove, so we would have to pull over and take a closer look.   
A lovely egret.
Parking permits are always required for all the wildlife areas on Sauvie Island.  Daily permits are currently  $3.50 and yearly permits are $11.00.  I have been told that all the stores on Sauvie Island sell them, including the general store which is right at the base of the Sauvie Island Bridge, but many of the stores are closed in the winter.  You may find that the most convenient way to get one is to buy one online and print it out yourself:  Signs posted announce that from October through April, the wildlife areas are closed to anyone without a hunting license.  But you can still park at the wildlife areas and see quite a lot without walking into them.

Now that's a nest!  It clearly belongs to a large raptor.

We were told these were migratory, dusky Canada Geese, smaller than the ones typically seen.
A ring-necked pheasant that streaked across the road.

A merlin.

Friday, February 4, 2011

Spelling Bee This Saturday!

"Portland Youth Spelling Bee", Saturday,  February 5, 1PM (sign-ups at 12:45PM), Mississippi Pizza, 3552 N. Mississippi Ave., Pdx.  The spelling bee has three different difficulty levels, and is open to kids 5-18. Prizes are given to the winners, and every participant gets a treat.   I asked Molly Newman, the host of this cool event, how the spelling bee works specifically for younger kids. Her reply:  "Our Junior category at the Spelling Bee is for kids in approximately grades K-2 or ages 5-7, though I encourage everyone to compete in whichever round they feel most comfortable in (and kids can compete in more than one round, too)."  Check it out!