Saturday, December 31, 2011

January Joy

This is my monthly list of free and low cost events for January 2012.  I compile this list every month for the homeschool group we belong to, which includes kids 9 and under, so I try to include events that have some educational or cultural value and don't specifically exclude that age group.  Some of these are intended for adults, and while you will have to use your best judgment of whether your children will like them, you can be pretty sure they won't be dumbed down.  My sock monkeys were having an early New Year's party and were unavailable for proofreading assistance by deadline time this month, so Wanda the Feral Homeschooler kindly pitched in.  She's awesome- she's the one who introduced me to my new favorite genre of books, the "Book Based On A Hit YouTube Video" genre.  (Here's a wonderful example, for all you highbrow nature lovers!)  Go Wanda!  So be sure before you attend anything, to doublecheck them in case of typos, mistakes, and cancellations.

Did you get an eReader for Christmas? Or are you wondering if getting one would be worthwhile? This month, there are tons of opportunities for free library classes at Multnomah County Libraries, Washington County Libraries, and Clackamas County Libraries to learn how to use these devices and learn how to get free library materials with them. Some require that you bring your own, and others are geared toward helping you decide which one is best for you. These classes are principally for adults, and there are too many to list!  Check your local library’s calendar. 

Mr. Ben”, Mondays in January at 5PM at Mississippi Pizza, 3552 N. Mississippi Ave.; Tuesdays at 10:30AM at Milagros Boutique, 5433 NE 30th Ave., Pdx (suggested donation $3 per walking human); Wednesdays at 10AM at Eco Baby Gear, 2122 SE Division St. (suggested donation $5 per family or $3 per person); Thursday January 5, 12, and 18 at 11AM at E.A.T., 850 NE 81st Ave., Pdx; and Saturday, January 14, 4PM at E.A.T. “Mr. Ben plays live music for kids and families in and around Portland, OR. His shows are the perfect blend of entertainment and education. Your child can participate as much or as little as they choose — they are free to explore new musical ideas and concepts at their own pace and in their own way.” 

Ronnie Robbins”, Tuesday, January 3, 7PM, Forest Grove Library. Brazilian music by guitarist and vocalist Ronnie Robbins. 

Symphony Storytime”, Wednesdays in January, 11AM, Hollywood Library. Free tickets will be given out at 10:30. “The Oregon Symphony is on the road for interactive, musical storytimes. This series focuses on books, music, instruments, sound and fun. Each week features a visit from an Oregon Symphony musician who will play and provide an introduction to his or her instrument and orchestral music. January 4- Steve Price and his viola; January 11- Mark Dubac and his clarinet; January 18- John Cox and his French horn; January 25- Tom Sessa and his percussion instruments.”

Mo Phillips”, Thursdays in January, 10:30AM, at Milagros Boutique, 5429 NE 30th Ave., Pdx. ($3-5 suggested donation); Fridays in January at Soundroots, 3954 N. Williams Ave., Pdx. ($5 per walking kid); and Sunday, January 8 and 22 at 10AM, Flying Cat Coffee Co., 3041 SE Division, Pdx ($3-$5 suggested donation). “Mo performs interactive shows of his own that respect the intelligence of young people with wit and irreverence, without being 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.” 

Legos at the Library”, Thursday, January 5, 6:30PM, Canby Library. “John Masek, of Bricks and Minifigs, will bring the supplies; you supply the imagination for a fun evening of building with Legos!” 

Professor Banjo”, Thursday, January 5, 7PM, Kennedy School Gymnasium, 5736 NE 33rd Ave., Pdx. Free. “Paul Silveria is an old-time banjo player who covers a variety of intriguing Americana: mountain ballads, country blues, jug band tunes, and originals, all with a ready wit and engaging delivery. Most notably he plays for kids and their banjo-loving parents as Professor Banjo in a show that features sing-a-longs, dancing games, and more!” 

Seriously Funny Juggling with Curtis Carlyle”, Friday, January 6, 7PM, Hillsboro Main Library. “A fun fusion of world-class juggling, fresh, innovative comedy, and plenty of audience participation! This show will be perfect for the whole family.”

The Alphabeticians”, Saturday, January 7, 4PM, at E.A.T., 850 NE 81st Ave., Pdx; Saturday, January 14, 11AM, Lake Oswego Library; Sunday January 15 and 29 at 10AM at Flying Cat Cofffee, 3041 SE Division, Pdx ($5 donation per family); and Saturday, January 21, 4PM, at Mississippi Pizza ($8 suggested donation per family). Mr. Hoo will also be playing every Tuesday at 10AM at Soundroots, 3954 N. Williams Ave., Pdx (an interactive show with instruments for the kids, $5 admission per child); Wednesday, January 4, 11, 18, and 25 at the Warehouse, 3434 SE Milwaukie Ave., Pdx ($5 suggested donation per family); every Thursday at 10AM at Flying Cat Coffee ($5 donation per family), and every Friday at 11AM at Milagros Boutique, 5433 NE 30th Ave., Pdx. “The Alphabeticians, Mister Hoo and Mister E, have been best friends since their salad days in the mid 80s. They formed The Alphabeticians after they both became fathers, heard some of the music that was promoted as “Kid's” music and thought, “We can do better than that.” They combine humor, clever (mostly original) songs, interactive elements and an all around great stage show to entertain people of all ages. Adults have as much fun as kids at a typical show, where you're likely to hear songs about numbers, size, dads, metaphors, bags, monsters, extinct fish and multiple alphabet songs.”

Portland Youth Spelling Bee”, Saturday, January 7, sign-ups at 12:45PM, Mississippi Pizza, 3552 N. Mississippi Ave., Pdx. “Are you a W-H-I-Z at spelling? Kids ages 5-18 are welcome to come strut their spelling stuff on the Mississippi Pizza stage. Three difficulty levels give everyone a chance to play. Winners take home fun prizes, and every speller gets a treat.” 

Chinese Tea Tasting”, Saturday, January 7, 2PM, Hillsboro Main Library. “Celebrate National Hot Tea Month and the coming Chinese New Year by tasting three special Chinese Teas--green, oolong, and pu-erh tea. Learn about where the tea is grown, who picks it, and how it's processed.” 

Guided Nature Walks”, Saturdays in January, 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.” January 7: Winter Twig Identification; January 14: Conifers of the Creek; January 21: The Art of Owling; January 28: Magnificent Moss and Lovely Lichen. 

Oregon Chamber Players”, Saturday, January 7, 2PM, Ledding Library of Milwaukie. 

Raven Steals the Sun”, Saturday, January 7, 10AM and 11:15AM, Sellwood-Moreland Library. “The world was once dark and cold because the sun, moon and stars were locked in a box. Based on a Native American tale and performed by Tears of Joy Theatre, this play shares how Raven the trickster brought light and warmth to the world.”

Bob Rabbit in the Deep Woods”, Saturday, January 7, 2:30PM, Capitol Hill Library. “This original folktale follows Bob Rabbit as he sets out on a trek through the woods in search of a new friend. Andy Furgeson, the one-man-puppet-band, will take you on a musical journey with Bob and a crew of other quirky animals. Children will be singing, dancing and performing during this musical puppet show!”

Musica Maestrale Concert To Lament and to Rejoice”, Saturday, January 7, 7:30PM, Community Music Center, 3350 SE Francis St., Pdx. Suggested donation of $12 for adults and $9 for seniors and students. “Dramatic instrumental and vocal music from the early Italian Baroque. Julia Brown, harpsichord; Bryce Peltier, recorder; Hideki Yamaya, theorbo and Baroque guitar with special guests Polly Gibson, bass gamba and recorder; Catherine Olson, soprano. Oregon-based Baroque ensemble Musica Maestrale will present a concert of instrumental and vocal music from early 17th-century Italy. The program will include dramatic laments as well as jovial songs, and some of the earliest sonatas. Composers represented will include Monteverdi, Castello, Falconieri, and Barbara Strozzi, one of the few female composers from the Baroque era.”

Lantern Tour of Fort Vancouver”, Saturday, January 7 and 21, 6:30PM, Fort Vancouver National Historic Site, 1001 E. 5th St., Vancouver, WA. $10 for adults and $7 for children under 15. Reservations required; call 360-816-6230. “Take a lantern-lit journey with a Park Ranger through a night at Fort Vancouver! Peak into the past with vignettes by costumer interpreters, and learn about your urban national park then and now. You will be touring through the fort buildings and enjoying hot cider with the costumed interpreters!”

"O-Shogatsu New Year's Festival", Sunday, January 8, 12PM-3PM, Portland Japanese Garden, 611 SW Kingston  Ave., Pdx; Admission $9.50 adults, $7.75 seniors and college students with ID, $6.75 kids 6-17, and free for kids 5 and under.  Washington and Clackamas County Libraries have cultural passes for this location. "O-Shogatsu, Japanese New Year, is the most important festival of the year in Japan. It is a time for family and friends to celebrate this auspicious day together and wish for good health and blessings in the new year.  The Garden’s celebration of O-Shogatsu features kakizome, the writing of the first calligraphy of the new year.  The practice of kakizome is held throughout Japan on the second day of the New Year, and children are encouraged to write a celebratory character in their best hand to set the tone for success in their studies in the coming year.  Join us to try your hand at writing with brush and ink and be sure to sample O-Matcha, the green tea of The Way of Tea."

Portland Origami Paper Shapers”, Sunday, January 8, 1:30PM, Belmont Library. “Enjoy origami-paper folding for fun, relaxation and stretching your brain. Learn a new origami project each month with various local origami instructors.” 

Slavic New Year Celebration”, Sunday, January 8, 2:30PM, Gresham Library. “Celebrate the new year and join us for music, dancing, crafts and authentic Russian treats.” 

The Ugliest Duckling”, Monday, January 9, 12PM, Portland Center for the Performing Arts, Antionette Hatfield Hall Rotunda Lobby, 1111 SW Broadway, Pdx. Free. It is advisable to get there early as seating does fill up quickly for these free performances. “The Ugliest Duckling is a retelling of the famous story by Hans Christian Anderson, set in Australia and staring little Yuckay, a platypus, in the role of the duckling that grows up to become a swan. However, since a platypus won’t grow into anything but a larger platypus, The Ugliest Duckling is a story that teaches children that everyone is different and unique for their own reasons. Along little Yuckay’s journey of self-discovery he comes across an array of Australian creatures such as the kangaroo, koala bear, spiney anteater, and kookaburra.” 

Winter Walk and Exploration”, Monday, January 9, 3:30PM, Hillsboro Main Library, Storytime Room. Preregistration required; register online  “For children in grades 1-3. It's time to go outside and explore nature in winter. Are any animals still active? Is there anything to eat? Will we find evidence that animals have been around the Library? Wear warm clothes and comfortable walking shoes for our adventure.” 

Steve Hall Quintet”, Monday, January 9, 6:30PM, West Linn Library. “The Steve Hall Quintet is an instrumental jazz group who love the American art form of jazz and are working hard to preserve and enhance its status in the Portland area. The band consists of Steve Hall on hammond organ, John Dover on trumpet, Bill Harris on saxophone, Peter Schwimmer on guitar, and Kenny Morse on drums. The band has recorded three albums, the most recent of which, Cruisin' on Burnside, was released in September.”

I Dig Bones: Adventures in Forensic Anthropology”, Monday, January 9, 7PM, Bagdad Theater, 3702 SE Hawthorne Blvd., Pdx. Minors permitted with an adult. Suggested donation of $5. “What happens when mysterious human remains are found in the woods? How are bodies identified, even after death and decomposition? Dr. Nici Vance provides a glimpse into the life of bones, bodies, and biological anthropology as she explains how skeletal remains are discovered, recovered, and analyzed for identification purposes. Dr. Vance also highlights the importance of DNA analysis in bringing closure to families of missing persons throughout the nation and what you can do to help.”

2012 Sky Watch Preview (and is the movie right about 2012?)”, Monday, January 9, 7PM and 8:15PM, Mount Hood Community College, 26000 SE Stark St., Gresham, OR. $2. “All shows are presented under a realistic representation of the night sky,
 featuring the latest galactic, stellar and planetary images.” 

Portland Old-Time Music Gathering”, Wednesday, January 11, through Sunday, January 15, various venues, Pdx. Check out their website for all the details: 

Jennifer Richter”, Wednesday, January 11, 7PM, Ledding Library Pond House. “Enjoy and evening of beautiful poetry in the friendly confines of the Ledding Library Pond House.”

Bug Love: Adventures in Research and Why Bugs Rule”, Thursday, January 12, 7PM, Cosmic Pizza, 199 w. 8th Ave., Eugene, inside The Stand at 8th and Charnelton, $5 donation requested, all ages. Presentation by The Bug Chicks, who are totally awesome, and this explains why I’m listing something so far from Portland. 

Family Clay Nights”, Fridays beginning January 13, 6PM-8:30PM, Multnomah Arts Center, 7688 SW Capitol Hwy., Pdx. No preregistration required. “Come as a family and play with clay! $10/hr per adult and child pair. $4/hr for each additional child. Includes glazes, firings, and 5 lbs of clay. Not for solo participants. This is an adult and child activity. Use of the potter’s wheel by instructor approval only. Pay at Multnomah Arts Center office.”

Kids Can Make Bread!”, Friday, January 13, 4PM, Midland Library; Saturday, January 14, 11AM, North Portland Library; and Wednesday, January 18, 4PM, Rockwood Library. “There is no better season than winter to have the smell of fresh baked bread in the house! Luckily, making bread is not hard at all. Join cookbook author Jean Johnson in this hands-on class and take home your own mini round of bread to bake. Class is suitable for all ages, with children under 10 accompanied by an adult.”

Do You See What I See?”, Saturday, January 14, 10AM, Sellwood-Moreland Library. Suggested for ages 4 and up. “Have fun learning all about light! If part of your morning routine includes seeing your reflection in the bathroom mirror, you have light to thank for that! In this workshop, an AKA Science instructor will engage kids in hands-on science activities to show how mirrors can be used to bounce light all over the place!” v 

Lone Fir Cemetery Guided Walking Tour”, Saturday, January 14, 10AM-12PM, entrance at SE 26th Street between Stark and Morrison Sts, Pdx. $10 suggested donation. “Come for an informal history lesson while enjoying the beauty and tranquility of Lone Fir Pioneer Cemetery in SE Portland. Friends of Lone Fir Cemetery conducts monthly tours, highlighting Portland’s founders, pioneers, its famous and infamous alike, as well as interesting headstones and monuments. Come visit this hidden jewel! Explore 30 acres of mature trees, a very special rose garden and fascinating architecture in this unique place, the only cemetery in Portland listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Suitable for all ages. No advance registration required. Meet in the center of the cemetery, at the soldiers’ monument.” Lone Fir was the first public cemetery in Portland, and a tour is a must for anyone learning about local history.

Quizissippi Jr.- for kids!”, Saturday, January 14, sign up starts at 12:45, Mississippi Pizza, 3552 N. Mississippi Ave., Pdx. “Why should grown-ups have all the fun? Portland’s only kid-friendly trivia event invites your whole family to “the best trivia on Saturday afternoons on Mississippi Avenue.” Questions for both adults and kids, multimedia clips, physical challenges, and plenty of great music mean a fun challenge and a good time for all. Teams of up to five players play FREE for fun prizes.” 

Vancouver Greenway Trail Bird Walk”, Saturday, January 14, 8AM-11AM, meeting at the Vancouver Backyard Bird Shop, 8101 NE Parkway Dr., Vancouver, WA. Preregistration required; call 360-253-5771. Free. “Join wildlife expert, Elaine Murphy, for a morning jaunt along one of Vancouver’s Greenway Trails to look for wintering waterfowl and songbirds.” 

Brick and Little Builders”, Saturday, January 14, 10:30AM, Beaverton City Library. “We’re changing the way we do things. Brick Builders and Little Builders will be a combined drop-in program (bricks for older kids and little kids will be in separate areas). We encourage grown-ups to join their kids as they create with LEGO and Duplo blocks. Programs will now be held in the Meeting Rooms. No registration required.” 

Gearing Up for Space”, Saturday, January 14, 1PM, Jessie Mays Community Center, 30955 NW Hillcrest St., North Plains, OR. “What to Wear? The Evergreen Aviation and Space Museum will have a presentation at Jessie Mays Center. The educator will have a replica space suit demonstrated when talking to the patron which will display the intricate parts of the actual space-suit. ALL AGES WELCOME!!” 

Get Up And Dance!”, Saturday, January 14, 10:30AM, Albina Library. “Join Habiba, a native of Ghana, in learning the richness of West African culture through dance steps, specific rhythms and songs for traditional dances. Participants can also practice call and response through songs and phrases from the languages of Ghana and Guinea. Habiba’s classes offer an exhilarating workout in addition to a fun cultural experience.”

Wapato Winter Birding Walk”, Saturday, January 14, 9AM- 12PM, meeting at 9AM at Sauvie’s Island Wapato Access Greenway. Free. Preregistration required; register online: We start the morning with a quick introduction to birding at the picnic shelter then walk the loop around Virginia Lake, stopping all along the way. Bring a sack lunch and stay to eat with the birds (and rangers) or take an optional caravan to Coon Point to try to double your birds for the day! 

"Annual J. R. R. Tolkien Birthday Bash”, Saturday, January 14, 11AM ‘til late, Kennedy School, 5736 NE 33rd Ave., Pdx. All ages. Free admission with canned good for the Oregon Food Bank. Elves, wizards, ents, orcs and all others are welcome to join us for this celebration of one of the 20th century's most influential authors. We'll have kids' fun, live music, performances by Willamette Radio Workshop, the entire "Lord of the Rings" trilogy in the Theater, Hobbit-inspired food specials and more! Come in costume to compete for prizes. See website for schedule of events and more details:

Wondrous Weather Around Us!”, Saturday, January 14, 1PM-3PM, Water Resources Education Center, 4600 SE Columbia Way, Vancouver, WA. Free. “Rain or shine, Pacific Northwest weather can be fascinating! Join us for fun, hands-on activities for children about clouds, wind, rain, snow and much more.” 

Chinese New Year Crafts”, Saturday, January 14, 2:30PM, Hillsboro Main Library, suggested for grades K-5. “Lanterns, dragons, lions, and fans! Come create crafts to celebrate the Chinese New Year. Bring yourselves and a crafty attitude and get ready for plenty of cut, tape, and glue fun!” 

Champoeg Legacy Program”, Saturday, January 14, 10AM-12PM, Champoeg State Park, Visitor Center Auditorium. Free with $5 day use fee per vehicle. “Encountering the past through oral and written history — Native American and French-Canadian fur trappers share a unique cultural tradition: oral histories or collecting and interpreting human memories to foster knowledge and preserve a sense of cultural identity. This program will introduce Champoeg’s past through compelling stories. Participants also will examine historic clothing. The two-hour program also permits participants to share their memories, learn about preserving family stories and begin to write their life story.”. 

Kids in Nature- Mysterious Mushrooms”, Sunday, January 15, 10AM- 11:30AM, Tryon Creek State Park. $10; preregistration required. Register online: Suggested for kids 3-7. “Spend the morning exploring the park as we go on mushroom scavenger hunt. During our hike we’ll learn about mushroom parts and different kinds of mushrooms as we learn all about these important forest organisms.” 

Portlandia: Raise Chickens in Your Backyard!”, Sunday, January 15, 1PM, Central Library. "As more and more people are beginning to raise their own food, chickens are becoming popular additions to the neighborhood! Join Craig Clark in learning the basics of raising happy, healthy chickens. Craig teaches Growing Gardens’ chicken-keeping workshops and is part of the Zenger Farm chicken cooperative." 

Snuggle Up Creations”, Sunday, January 15, 1:30PM, Tigard Library Puett Room. Suggested for ages 5 and up. “Make something soft and cozy, like a pillow for your bed or a simple quilt for your favorite stuffed animal. All materials provided. Just bring your imagination!” 

Chess Tournament”, Sunday, January 15, 12PM-5PM, Gresham Library. “Thirty-minute games. Registration required; email” 

Polina Olsen presents, “Stories from Jewish Portland”, Monday, January 16, 7PM, Annie Bloom’s Books, 7834 SW Capitol Hwy., Pdx. “These are the stories of Jewish Portland, whose roots stretch back to the Gold Rush, whose heart is 'the old neighborhood' of South Portland and the memories of its residents, whose identity is alive and well in synagogues and community institutions. Portland author Polina Olsen recounts the history of this richly layered community through a collection of letters, interviews, and stories drawn from her series "Looking Back," published in The Jewish Review. In this expanded collection, explore the lives of early settlers brought by opportunity and New York’s Industrial Removal Office, walk the streets of the old neighborhood, alive with basketball games and junk peddlers, and learn the proud history of institutions like the Jewish Federation of Greater Portland, which continue the cultural traditions of Jewish Portland.”

Sing and Sign Time with Dawn Prochavnic”, Tuesday, January 17, 4PM, Beaverton City Library. Suggested for ages 2-8. No registration required. “Enjoy fun music and stories while learning sign language with your children!”

Mark Rothko: Portland to New York”, Tuesday, January 17, 7PM, Walters Cultural Arts Center, 527 E. Main St., Hillsboro. Free. “Caroline Kim, Senior Development Associate at the Portland Art Museum (PAM), will discuss the exciting new exhibit by Portland-born artist Mark Rothko, which will be on display at the PAM starting in February. Her talk represents a rare behind-the-scenes look at one of the most highly-regarded painters of the 20th Century.”

Urban Landslides: A Slippery Challenge for the Forensic Geologist”, Tuesday, January 17, 7PM, Mission Theater, 1624 NW Glisan, Pdx. $5 suggested donation. Minors permitted with an adult. “Oregon is very prone to landslides because of steep slopes, periodic high rainfall events, and earthquakes. Scott Burns, an expert in the study of landslides, uses many examples from the Portland area to explain how geologists and engineers study landslides to help prevent them. Landslides are not covered by normal homeowner’s insurance. If a landslide hits a house or if the house slides down a hill, there is no insurance help. Find out how and why landslides happen, and what areas to avoid when the rain starts.” 

Homeschool Book Party”, Tuesday, January 17, 1PM, Fairview-Columbia Library. “Calling all homeschoolers age 6-10! Make new friends, talk about great books, and make book-related crafts. Read "The Adventures of Sir Gawain the True" by Gerald Morris.” 

Flamenco Dance Workshop”, Tuesday, January 17, 7PM, Tigard Library Community Room. All ages. “Does the drama and romance of flamenco intrigue you? Enjoy a short flamenco performance, then stay and try it out yourself with live musical accompaniment. Dancer and instructor Laura Onizuka has performed extensively with flamenco artists from Spain and the United States.”

To Cut or Not to Cut: Censorship in Literature”, Wednesday, January 18, 7PM, Tigard Library Community Room. A program for adults that might be of particular interest to homeschooling parents with concerns about teaching classic literature. “Mark Twain's Huck Finn and August Wilson's Joe Turner's Come and Gone provide the backdrop for a discussion of censorship by Reed College professor Pancho Savery.” 

Brazilian Paper Coiling”, Wednesday, January 18, 6PM, Troutdale Library; and Wednesday, January 25, 6:30PM, Fairview-Columbia Library. “In many countries, artisans turn simple scrap paper into colorful dishes, jewelry and various household items. In this workshop, artist Addie Boswell will teach two different ways to fold and curl magazine paper to turn it into beautiful bowls and coasters or unique bracelets and necklaces. Finished pieces can be sealed to protect the paper art for years.” 

Red Fans for a Lunar New Year”, Thursday, January 19, 3:30 PM, Belmont Library; and Saturday, January 28, 4:30PM, Woodstock Library (preregistration required, register online.  “Decorate red accordion fans with origami paper, Chinese character rubber stamps, glitter and other materials. The fan is a traditional Chinese symbol and red paper is used to symbolize good luck and happiness throughout the year. Artist Cindy Lommasson brings back this popular craft for the new year.” 

Wild in the City”, Thursday, January 19, 7:30PM, Powells, 3723 SE Hawthorne Blvd., Pdx. “The second edition of the highly acclaimed Wild in the City brings over 100 of the best parks, trails and natural areas to your fingertips. ‘Wild in the City: Exploring the Intertwine’ will be the go-to field guide for hikers, cyclists, paddlers, bird watchers, and nature enthusiasts who want to explore the Portland/Vancouver area's natural wonders. For the event, editors Michael C. Houck and M. J. Cody will be joined by contributors Bob Sallinger, Tom McAllister, and Judy BlueHorse Skelton.”

Art Right Off the Page”, Thursday, January 19, 4PM, Beaverton City Library Meeting Room A. Registration required- call 503-350-3600. Suggested for grades 3-5 with adult accompaniment. They read a popular children's picture book, briefly discuss one of the illustrator's techniques, then the kids have a chance to draw and share their own stories.

Genealogy 101”, Thursday, January 19, 6:30PM, Hillsboro Main Library. A program for adults that may be of special interest to homeschoolers wanting to make genealogy a topic for study, which seems like a wonderful introduction to both history and research techniques. Registration is required; call 503-615-6500. “The Genealogical Society of Washington County Oregon (GSWCO) will offer classes for beginning genealogists or those just starting to research their family history. Topics covered will be finding vital records, accessing census, military and other sources, online resources, organizing what you find and ideas for the recording and sharing of the information. Class size is limited to 20 and the Society will have members attending who can help individuals. Registration is required and can be done at the Library or by phone (503-615-6500).” 

Classical Revolution PDX’, Friday, January 20, 7:15PM, Community Music Center, 3350 SE Francis St., Pdx. Suggested donation of $5 per person or $15 per family. “Classical Revolution PDX is a Portland-based nonprofit organization founded in 2007 dedicated to enriching and educating our community by making classical music accessible to the public. They have grown into a network of over two hundred musicians that love to play chamber music, and we share a common desire to make classical music a part of people's daily lives. For more on Classical Revolution PDX visit their website:”

Northwest Reptile Expo”, Saturday, January 21, 10AM-4PM, Holiday Inn, 25425 SW 95th Ave., Wilsonville, OR. Admission is $8 for adults, $4 for kids 6-12, and free for kids 5 and under. A $1 off coupon can be printed from their website. This is a marvelous opportunity to see all kinds of reptiles up close and ask questions about their care. 

Lutenists David Rogers of Eugene and Hideki Yamaya of Portland”, Saturday, January 21, 7:30PM, Community Music Center, 3350 SE Francis St, Pdx. Suggested donation $12 adults, $9 seniors and students. “a concert of lute duets and solos by members of the Queen’s Music, Elizabeth I’s chamber musicians. An impressively accomplished lutenist herself, Elizabeth gathered the best lutenists in England to her court. The Elizabethan lute duet repertoire sets the stage, in a sense, for the development of American improvised music forms as blues, bluegrass and jazz.” 

Gem Faire”, Friday, January 20, 12PM-6PM, Saturday, January 21, 10AM- 6PM, and Sunday, January 22, 10AM- 5PM, Washington County Fairgrounds. Admission $7 for adults for a weekend pass; kids under 12 free, 2 for 1 coupon available on their website. Gemfaire has lots of beads but also quite a few vendors with offerings for rockhounds and fossil collectors. 

Chinese and Vietnamese New Year Party”, Saturday, January 21, 1:30PM, Tigard Library, Puett Room. Suggested for ages 5 and up. “Celebrate the Chinese and Vietnamese New Year with the Tigard High School Asian Club. Join us for crafts, coloring, snacks and more.” 

ViVoce Concert: Winter Gloom and Good Cheer”, Saturday, January 21, 11:30AM- 1PM, and Sunday, January 22, 9AM-11AM, St. Michael and All Angels Church, 1704 NE 43rd Ave., Pdx. “January is the month of gloom, with long dark nights, fiercest winter weather, holidays behind us yet spring a long way off... perhaps the month when we most need to gather and cheer each other up! Concert selections are drawn from folk or folk-based works from various cultures, and from music of the European Renaissance. The music moves from gloom (Suite de Lorca) through solace and comfort (Byrd) to songs of good cheer (Twanky-dillo and others), followed by a cup of good cheer together after the concert.” 

Hand-Made Valentines”, Saturday, January 21, 3PM, Kenton Library; and Tuesday, January 31, 3PM, St. Johns Library (preregistration required; call 503-988-5397). “Artist Kathy Karbo will show you how to create a one-of-a-kind valentine using copper wire, pipe cleaners, decorative papers and colorful beads and ornaments. Gain experience with hammers, anvils and needle-nose pliers. Fun for all ages!” Anything with Ms. Karbo is highly recommended! 

Can You Hear Me Now?”, Saturday, January 21, 1:30PM, Gregory Heights Library. Suggested for ages 4 and up. “Did you hear that? Sounds are all around us. You can hear them, feel them, and sometimes even see them! In this workshop, an AKA Science instructor will engage kids in hands-on science activities to explore the science of sound. Have fun really listening to and exploring sound and vibration. This is one of the rare times you will be encouraged to make noise in the library!” 

Chinese New Year”, Saturday, January 21. 1:30PM, Beaverton City Library Meeting Rooms A and B. Suggested for grades 1-5. “Come learn about and celebrate Chinese New Year by making a craft and hearing a story”

"Chinese New Year", Saturday, January 21, 1PM-3:30PM, Uwajimaya Grocery,  10500 SW Beaverton-Hillsdale Hwy, Beaverton, OR. Free.
• Portland Chinese School - Chinese Yoyos and Folk Dance (1pm - 1:10pm)
• Portland Chinese School - Happy Dance for Chinese New Year (1:15 - 1:45pm)
• Chinese Customs Contest (1:50 - 2:15pm) - Please sign up prior to event dates (see store for details)
• Sunflower Dancing Troup - Chinese Dance (2:20 - 2:50pm)
• Lion Dance - Lee On Dong Benevolent Association (3:00 - 3:30pm)

African Stories told by Massene”, Saturday, January 21, 11AM , Lake Oswego Library. “Originally from West Africa, Massene Mboup graduated college with dual majors in English and linguistics. He then earned a teaching degree and taught high school at the Lycee Maurice De La Fosse in Dakar. Since coming to Portland, he’s been a teacher at the Portland French School since 1999, is a soccer coach for the Portland Youth Soccer Association League, worked with the PSU Philosophy Department to develop a children’s curriculum, and is currently the school director of the International Leadership Academy, a Lake Oswego French immersion school. On top of all of these achievements, he is an author and a 'griot,' or storyteller. Children age 4 and up are invited to enjoy Massene’s unique and charming storytelling style. His African stories will be told in English, with a few words in French and Wolof thrown in.” 

Lego Construction Zone”, Sunday, January 22, 1:30PM, Tigard 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.” 

Portland Opera to Go: Hansel and Gretel”, Sunday, January 22, 12PM, Grand Lodge Hotel, 3505 Pacific Ave., Forest Grove, OR; and Sunday, January 29, 12PM, McMenamins Edgefield, 2126 SW Halsey St., Troutdale, OR. All ages. “Enjoy a family friendly production of Hansel and Gretel and an evening of opera's greatest hits!” 

Bird Walk at Crystal Springs Rhododendron Garden”, Sunday, January 22, 8AM- 11AM, meeting at the Lower Boones Ferry Backyard Bird Shop, 16949 SW 65th Ave., Lake Oswego. Free. Preregistration required; call 503-620-7454. “Amidst the thousands of rhododendrons on the seven-acre Crystal Springs Rhododendron Garden, a jewel of a lake hosts wintering waterfowl. Take a free expert-guided bird walk with naturalist, Elaine Murphy, to seek ducks, mergansers, herons, and kingfishers.” 

Why Aren’t There More Black People in Oregon? A Hidden History”, Sunday, January 22, 2PM, Hollywood Library. “Have you ever wondered why the Black population in Oregon is so small? Oregon has a history not only of Black exclusion and discrimination, but also of a vibrant Black culture that helped sustain many communities throughout the state — a history that is not taught in schools. Portland State University adjunct professor Walidah Imarisha will lead participants through an interactive timeline of Black history in Oregon and will also discuss how history, politics, and culture have shaped — and will continue to shape — the landscape for Black Oregonians.” 

$1.09 an Hour and Glad to Have it: Conversations with Crown Zellerbach Millworkers”, Sunday, January 22, 1PM, Tigard Library Community Room. “West Linn author Sandra Hickson Carter will present the story behind her book about the men and women who worked for Crown Zellerbach International at Willamette Falls between 1928 and 1986. She has captured the personal history of papermaking at the Falls and will include anecdotes from the book as well as a short video.”

"Chinese New Year", January 23-February 6, Lan Su Chinese Garden, 239 NW Everett St., Pdx. Admission is $8.50 for adults, $7.50 seniors, $6.50 students, free for kids 5 and under.  Both Washington County and Clackamas County libraries have cultural passes for this location (listed as "Portland Classical Chinese Garden").  They will be having a whole series of special festivities every day in honor of the New Year.  For details, see their website:  Please note that the garden can get especially busy during these festivities, and it may be best to arrive early and choose public transit if possible.

Anti-Bullying Program”, Monday, January 23, 3:30PM, Beaverton Library. Registration required; call 503- 350-3600. Suggested for grades 3-5. “Kids, want to learn how to tackle the problem of bullying? Celebrate No Name Calling Week by learning solutions with activities, tips, and resources. Handouts for parents will also be available, but this program is just for kids.” 

Northwest Agriculture Show”, Tuesday, January 24, 10AM- 6PM, Wednesday, January 25, 10AM- 9PM, and Thursday, January 26, 10AM-5PM, Portland Expo Center. Parking free for this event; admission $8 adults, $6 seniors, free for kids under 12, and Wednesday is Family Day with $15 admission for the entire family. In some ways it is easier for our kids to learn firsthand about growing seeds or taking care of animals; the high tech world that is modern agriculture is harder to glimpse. This is a showcase of modern agricultural equipment and supplies. A must for kids who love big trucks!

Linda Cohen presents, “1,000 Mitzvahs”, Tuesday, January 24, 7PM, Annie Bloom’s Books, 7834 SW Capitol Hwy. , Pdx. “When her father passed away in 2006, Linda Cohen took a spiritual sabbatical to work through her grief. She came out of it resolved to embark upon a project: perform 1,000 of kindness--"mitzvahs"--to honor her father's memory. Linda will be reading from and signing copies of '1,000 Mitzvahs: How Small Acts of Kindness Can Heal, Inspire and Change Your Life'. Readers are invited to make this a "mitzvah gathering" by bringing children's books to donate. The books will be donated to the Children's Book Bank ( a local non profit that collects donated books for distribution to children in need. Every 150 books serves 10 children! Most needed are board books, picture books, alphabet books, books about numbers, colors, animals, shapes and words, story books, rhyming books, Dr. Seuss books, and books in Spanish. There will also be books available that evening to purchase and donate. For more information about 1,000 Mitzvahs visit:” 

The Reptile Man”, Tuesday, January 24, 7PM, Tigard Library Community Room. “Fresh from his heroic Gresham gator rescue last fall, the Reptile Man makes a triumphant return to our Library! Bring the whole family for a fabulously entertaining and educational fact-finding journey into the mysterious world of reptiles.” Highly recommended!! Here’s an article on the incident to which they allude:

Lunar New Year Celebration”, Tuesday, January 24, 5:30PM, Midland Library. “Come join us in celebrating the Chinese and Vietnamese New Year! Enjoy a puppet performance, craft making and food.” 

Lunar New Year”, Wednesday, January 25, 6PM, Holgate Library. “Celebrate the Lunar New Year traditions of China and Vietnam! Lion dance at 6PM, puppet show, singing. View the spectacular Lion Dance performed by the Lee Family Association Lion Dance Team. This traditional performance will consist of Cantonese lions accompanied by instruments including drums, gongs and cymbals.” 

Make Your Own Book”, Thursday, January 26, 3:30PM, Belmont Library. “Create a book and decorate it. For children 5 years and older with an adult.” 

Kids Knit!”, Saturday, January 28, 11AM, North Portland Library. Preregistration required; register online.  “Discover a fun new hobby by learning to knit or improving your current skills! Needles and yarn provided or bring your own supplies. For grade school-age children and up.” If you can’t make it to this event, but your kid would love to learn to knit, consider checking out one of Multnomah County Library’s regular knitting groups, most of which are open to people of all ages and abilities, for community and expert advice. Check them out: 

From Print to Pixels: Reading in the Digital Age”, Saturday, January 28, 2PM, Tigard Library Community Room. “As the printed page gives way to digitized words on a screen, how will that influence reading, writing, and how we obtain information? Oregon author Mark Cunningham will lead a conversation about how technology may impact our reading habits.” 

Burnt Creek Bridge Bird Walk”, Saturday, January 28, 8AM-11AM, meeting at the Fisher’s Landing Backyard Bird Shop, 915 SE 164th Ave., Vancouver, WA. Preregistration required; call 360-944-6548. “Follow the Burnt Bridge Creek Trail through field and forest on a free, expert-guided bird walk. Naturalist, Elaine Murphy, guides you on this winter walk along Burnt Bridge Creek.” 

Lunar New Year Celebration”, Saturday, January 28, 1PM, Gregory Heights Library. “Celebrate the Lunar New Year traditions of China and Vietnam with music, games, food and crafts!” 

The Music of Ancient Greece”, Saturday, January 28, 5PM, Hillsboro Main Library. “Come and listen to the music of the ancient Greeks performed by Ensemble De Organographia. Composed of musicians Gayle and Philip Neuman, the Ensemble performs music from surviving notated Greek repertoires (c. 500 BCE to 300CE) on voice and period instruments like the kithara, lyre, aulos, syrinx, monokalamos, and trichordon. This performance promises to be exciting and educational with music from Euripedes' play Orestes, invocations by Hadrian's court composer Mesomedes and the Song of Seikilos--a very early example of a skolion or drinking song.” Highly recommended! 

Pokémon Free Play”, Saturday, January 28, 4PM, Hillsdale Library (free tickets will be given out at 3:30PM). Suggested for kids 7- 14. “Are you a Pokémon fan? If so, join us for some Pokémon free play! Bring your Pokémon cards or Nintendo DS and your copy of Pokémon Diamond or Pearl.” 

Trains at the Library”, Saturday, January 28 and Sunday, January 29, Lake Oswego Library. “On January 28 and 29, members of the Beaverton Modular Railroad Club will provide two sets of model trains and tracks for public enjoyment. Stop by the Library on the main floor and downstairs to see the trains, “drive” the trains and ask questions. Club members will be on hand to share their knowledge of this fun hobby and answer questions. Every hour the train whistle might blow!” 

Corn Husk Flowers”, Sunday, January 29, 1PM, Fairview-Columbia Library. Recommended for ages 8 and up. “Local artist Maria Alvarado will show you how to create beautiful corn husk flowers often used in Latin American festivals and street fairs. All materials provided.” 

Puzzle Celebration!”, Sunday, January 29, 2:30PM, Holgate Library. “Get ready for National Puzzle Day on January 29, 2012, with artist Cindy Lommasson. Design a landscape, a family portrait, a picture of your pet, or whatever other image you’d like to take apart and put back together! We will provide all the materials, so just bring your imagination.”

Portland Opera Preview: Madame Butterfly”, Sunday, January 29, 2PM, Central Library, Collins Gallery. “Lecture/concert covers historical background, composer information and musical selections.” 

Mochitsuki 2012- Year of the Dragon”, Sunday, January 29, 11AM-4PM, Scottish Rite Center, 1512 SW Morrison St., Pdx. Advance tickets are $10 adults, $7 seniors and students, $4 children 2-12. “Enjoy free mochi samples, demonstrations and hands-on activities for all ages including: mochi pounding, mochi making, ikebana, origami, games and much more! Stage performances TBA.” 

Alter Wiener: Life Story”, Sunday, January 29, 2PM, Beaverton City Library Meeting Rooms A and B. (A marvelous way for kids to hear a firsthand account of one of our darkest periods of history, if they are mature enough.) “Local author and Holocaust survivor, Alter Wiener, will discuss his life story. This program is free and open to the public. No registration required.“ Read about his presentation here:

Ka Lei Maile Ali'i: The Queen's Women”, Monday, January 30, 6:30PM, Midland Library. “Join us for an interactive reenactment depicting the 1897 signature-gathering meeting of the women's branch of the Hawaiian Patriotic League (Hui Aloha 'Aina). The original meeting, held at the Salvation Army Hall in Hilo, sought signatures for a petition protesting the U.S. annexation of the Hawaiian Islands following the overthrow of Queen Lili'uokalani in 1893. Learn about Hawaii’s history with the Ke Kukui Foundation of Vancouver, WA.”

The Science and Art of Permaculture”, Monday, January 30, 7PM, Venetian Theatre, 253 E. Main St., Hillsboro. Free, all ages. “We all know that we face many environmental challenges as individuals and as a society, but coming up with ways to solve these problems can be daunting. There are so many issues – energy production, food and water resources, exposure to toxic chemicals – that one can get paralyzed by just trying to figure out where to start. Enter permaculture. Derived from “permanent” and “agriculture”, the term is used to describe design systems that work WITH nature and the things that live there (plants, animals, and humans), rather than trying to make biological systems bend to human needs alone. It includes a combination of biological concepts such as organic farming and using native plants in our yards, to ethical considerations such as reducing waste and making sure all members of society have enough resources to thrive. Join us for a lively presentation and good conversation about the design science of permaculture, including a description of what is it, how it got started, and why we should do it.” 

Oregon Shadow Theatre presents, “Pecos Bill”, Tuesday, January 31, 7PM, Forest Grove Library. “In the folklore of the American West, Pecos Bill has been called the creator of the Rio Grande, the lasso, the rodeo, and the first cowboy songs. The OST production Pecos Bill, A Tall Tale follows Bill from his childhood (raised by coyotes!), through his adventures (fighting mythical beasts, riding a cyclone, falling in love with a woman who rides catfish!), to the inevitable settling of the West. The Oregon Shadow Theatre received the Citation of Excellence in Puppetry from Unima-USA (The ‘oscar’ of American puppetry created by the late Jim Henson) for Pecos Bill, A Tall Tale.” Highly recommended! 

Portland History”, Tuesday, January 31, 7:30PM, Powell’s, 1005 W Burnside, Pdx. “Jane Comerford's A Northwest Portland History: From the River to the Hills lets you experience the origins of Northwest Portland. Featuring many previously unpublished photographs, it shows the area when the muddy streets were filled with horse-drawn wagons, the harbor wharves welcomed sailing ships carrying goods and immigrants, and the waterfront teemed with lumber mills, manufacturing plants, saloons, hotels, and boarding houses. With over 175 photos and illustrations culled from a number of private collections, Donald Nelson's A Pictorial History of St. Johns reveals the history of North Portland's St Johns neighborhood from early pioneer years up to today, depicting the gradual transformation of St. Johns from an independent city into one of Portland's most unique communities.” 

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

New Page of Homeschooling Resources

I've been tinkering with this for a long time, and finally decided to go ahead and post my page of homeschooling resources:  This is a highly selective list of my favorites.  Since I started working on it, I kept revising it and thinking of more things that should be added, and I'm pretty sure that it will never be really "finished".   I'd be delighted if you'd share some of your own favorites in the comments!

Saturday, December 24, 2011


Tualatin Library has had a series of wonderful art workshops for kids, and Jasper participated in the latest one, a felted bead workshop.  Local artist LeBrie Rich taught the kids how to make colorful wet felted beads from marino wool in just a few steps.  The colors they could choose from were amazing, and the kids had a blast.  Rather than string his beads, Jasper knew just what to do with them when we got home.   When I was a kid, my mother had found two bird's nests that had blown from trees in the fall, and saved them for our Christmas tree.  I have them now, and Jasper knew his beads were the perfect size to become eggs.  

Felting is surprisingly easy, and wet felting is a very kid friendly technique.  Look for LeBrie to offer more workshops at Tualatin Library, where she is definitely in demand, as well as other locations she lists on her site.  For grownups and older kids who would like to try needle felting, from which you can rapidly learn to make pretty much anything you can imagine, I recommend the needle felting classes at Pendleton Woolen Mill Store in SE Portland.  They are currently $25, and come with a discount coupon for supplies and quite  a few assorted goodies.  And Dharma Trading also has wool roving, both in yummy colors and ready to dye.

Friday, December 23, 2011

Tryon Creek State Park

We found ourselves at Tryon Creek State Park, with a few hours to explore on a sunny December day. We discovered that it is not too cold to find salamanders here, and of course it's a lovely place to be any time of year.

A redback salamander.
Two tiny ensatinas we found together.
A Downy Woodpecker.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

More Upcoming Events

Free Violin Concert,  Friday, December 23, 4PM- 6PM, Tualatin Heritage Center, 8700 SW Sweek Dr., Tualatin, free. Performing will be violin students, including homeschoolers!  "Celebrate this festive season with our serenade of light classics and well-loved Christmas carols."

If you want to spring for some really great children's theatre, check out Zoo Zoo at the Imago Theatre, now through Jan. 1.  We attended a preview and it was absolutely the best children's theatre we'd ever seen. 

And all the kid-friendly New Year's festivities I could find:

"New Year's At Noon",  Saturday, December 31, Portland Children's Museum.  Admission is $9 for ages 1 and up.  Washington County Libraries and Clackamas County Libraries offer cultural passes for free admission. "Make a noisemaker, rock in the new year. Ages 0-10. 9:30-11:30 am, countdowns at 11, 11:30 am, noon, 12:30, 1 pm."

"New Year's Eve Sock Hop", Saturday, December 31, 11:30AM, Fairview-Columbia Library.  "Dress to impress, dance, games more. Ages 0-6 w/grown-up."

"New Year's Eve Family Fun", Saturday, December 31, 6PM-9PM, A C Gilbert's Discovery Village, Salem. $5 members/$10 nonmembers/$3 public assistance and ages 1 & 2. Advance tickets required; call 503-371-3631.  "A night on the Nile theme, crafts, entertainment, ball drop at 9 pm."

"All Ages Garage Rock Party", Saturday, December 31, doors open at 8PM, music starts at 9PM, $8 in advance or $10 at the door. All ages.

"Will West and the Friendly Strangers", Saturday, December 31, 9PM, McMenamin's Grand Lodge, Garage Door, 3505 Pacific Ave., Forest Grove, OR.  Free, all ages. "Carolina-born songwriter Will West performs with a rotation of acoustic musicians called The Friendly Strangers, featuring an array of fantastic Portland players on banjo, cello, mandolin, horns, percussion and other surprises."


Every December, Dennis' 7 Dees gardening centers bring live reindeer to their stores.  Our homeschool group went to see these beautiful beasts up close.  There were antlers and a pelt for kids to touch.  We've all seen pictures of them before, but we'd never actually seen a real reindeer before.  I guess they just aren't quite exotic enough for zoos.  This was a big hit with the kids! And it inspired us to learn more about reindeer, which are also called caribou.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Tualatin Hills Nature Park

Another cold but sunny day found us roaming around Tualatin Hills Nature Park, exploring a new trail and looking for wonders.  Normally this time of year is very rainy, which results in lots  and lots of mushrooms in the late fall, and a very green winter.  This year, while chilly weather is causing the deciduous trees to lose their leaves, the lack of rain is not bringing us as dense a carpet of moss and ferns as we might normally see, and fewer mushrooms. Wonders are there to be seen; we just have to look harder.
Wild rose hips.

The Portable North Pole

Ever since awesome homeschooling mom Shannon tipped us off to this free website, we've been sending annual Christmas videos to Jasper from Santa.  There is a chance to upload three pictures of your child, and the results are quite charming.  Check it out:

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Storybook Lane

Storybook Lane in Forest Grove is definitely our favorite holiday event.  It's only set up once every two years, and this is one of the lucky years!  It's a handmade and family run display which started in 1936.  It mixes original pieces with new favorites to reflect an endless array of nursery rhymes and classic kid's books.  Donations are requested.  Don't miss this one!

Monday, December 19, 2011

Corner Crest Natural Farm

Jasper with his pick.
We love to get our Christmas trees from Corner Crest Natural Farm.  It doesn't look like any other tree farm we've been to.  You can see it's not a wild forest,  because evidence of the owner's care and concern is everywhere.  Blackberries are laboriously removed, paths are clear and maintained, and trees are lovingly planted and cared for.  But the trees are not sprayed and not pruned, but left to grow in their own way and with their own unique beauty.  (Can you tell the owners are unschoolers?)  When it comes to local pick your own berry farms, I prefer to bring my son to farms that don't spray.  The air is healthier!  With a tree sharing our home for several weeks, it's really nice for it to be unsprayed as well. And we have found trees that are genuinely lovelier here.  

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Christmas Crafts

I love giving kids art supplies and just letting them make whatever they can come up with from their own imagination.  Jasper does like doing these open ended art projects, but he also has a real fondness for the kind of crafts where both the materials and the design are planned for him.  Christmas is a great time to give him a chance to do them.  We went to two of our favorite places for kid's crafts.  One was ScanFair.  ScanFair is one of the best folk festivals in the Northwest.  There are several Scandinavian folk dancing groups that perform there every year, and Leikarringen of Portland is especially popular with homeschoolers (with or without Scandinavian heritage, all are welcome).  Here are some pictures of Jasper making a cool Viking ship.

We love the historical reenactments at Champoeg State Park, and Christmas is especially fun.  Kids can weave God's eyes, make handkerchief dolls, make a ball and cup game from wooden branch rounds and an acorn, make a lavender sachet from real wool and lavender, thread a cranberry and popcorn garland, make an evergreen and holly swag, decorate a cookie, make a pomander ball from a clementine and cloves, and other real pioneer crafts.  Volunteers are all dressed in pioneer clothes, and lively pioneer music fills the air.  Ladies from the Portland Lace Society make lace the old fashioned way, which is really fun to watch.  

Making a ball and cup game.
Making a wool and lavender sachet.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Macleay Park

Macleay Park beckoned us one sunny day recently.  We were lucky to have some homeschooling friends join us, and we had a blast.  MacLeay Park is one of Portland's hidden gems.  The entrance is in the Pearl, tucked into a residential neighborhood where you'd never suspect it was hiding.  It joins the Wildwood Trail at the mysterious "stone house",  and connects to Forest Park and the Audubon Sanctuary.  There are lots of wonderful places to climb and explore.
Apparently the call of the creek could not be resisted, even on a cold day.
A tiny caterpillar Jasper discovered.

Monday, December 12, 2011

Dr. Ellen Prager

We have been excited to discover that OMSI's Science Pubs aren't just for grownups;  several locations always welcome all ages, most of the rest allow minors if accompanied by parents, and only Salem is exclusively 21 and older.  When I read about Dr. Ellen Prager, I knew I definitely had to take Jasper to see her.  He's currently fascinated with the deep sea and interested in marine biology, and she's an accomplished marine bioligist.  She has served as the chief scientist at Aquarius Reef Base, the world's only underwater marine research station.  (She explained that negotiating the change in water pressure is tricky and time consuming for deep sea divers, and the undersea base allows scientists to stay underwater for days at a time and get much more research done.)   She has just written a book, Sex, Drugs, and Sea Slime: The Oceans' Oddest Creatures and Why They Matter, which, despite its humorous title, is a book with a serious conservation mission.  Dr. Prager seeks so highlight some of the strange and wonderful beasts of the deep that we are only just beginning to get acquainted with.  After all, if we haven't ever heard of them, why should we do our best to save them?  And she gives the reader plenty of reasons, detailing the many inventive uses humans have found for sea creatures.  In her presentation, she explained that many of the chemicals produced naturally by sea creatures have proven to have greatly significant pharmaceutical use.  Study of sea sponges, for example, lead to the development of AZT, the first important drug used to combat HIV, and other drugs that are being developed in the fight against cancer.   What I didn't know was that any promising sea creature chemical cannot be developed into a commercial product until the animal it comes from can be farmed for this purpose, or the chemical can be synthesized- wild harvesting is out.  She talked at some length about ocean conservation, and how vital it is to our planet's well being.  According to NOAA, humans have actually explored less than 5% of the world's oceans.  We genuinely know more about the  moon, for example, because our space programs enjoy vastly better funding.  Dr. Prager stressed that there are many, many ways to help conserve ocean life, including establishing no-take marine reserves, encouraging sustainable fishing practices, improving aquaculture, eliminating subsidies for unsustainable fishing, increasing awareness and education, discovering the beauty of our oceans with responsible diving, kayaking, and fishing, and telling our lawmakers that we care about the ocean. Jasper thoroughly enjoyed hearing her presentation.   I was pleased he got to hear not only about marine biology, but also her ideas about good citizenship.