Saturday, February 28, 2009

Traveling from Seattle to Portland by Train

We are super excited about going down to Portland in a month or so. I just love the idea of going somewhere close and fairly simple and enjoying a little bit of adventure.

The simplest way to go is by car for sure and that is what we have done in the past. The best thing about that is the schedule flexibility. Plus it is even faster to drive than to take the train. Even without adding in the time it will take us to ride the bus to the train station. So why on earth are we trying the train this time?

Adventure - this is way more exciting than driving the old family car down
that boring stretch of I-5
Train enthusiasm - my kids love trains and all things transportation related
Environmental - one less car on the road

I would have loved to add Economics to the list but the big question is --

Is it cheaper to take the train?
I don't think so.

There are many hotel deals that you can swing and not have to pay for parking, but if you don't find one of those then you will pay $20/day to park if you drive there. (So this depends somewhat on how long you are staying.) And of course if we drive there, we will have to pay for gas. Gas prices are pretty reasonable right now so I don't think that would be more than $50.

So we are saving $110 by taking the train and the train is going to cost around $150.

We'll let you know how it goes and if we recommend taking the train from Seattle to Portland.

*Note: I have written a bunch of posts about Portland so if you want to read more, click on the Portland Label at the end of the post, and you will see all the Portland entries.

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Ducks in Muck

My four year old has been avoiding any attempts to teach him to read. I think it is a bit intimidating. Wanting to build up confidence, I gave it a shot with a super simple book.

Ducks in Muck
by Lori Haskins

He "read" almost the whole thing, thanks to the fact that there are only a few words used again and again in the whole book. His huge smile when we got to the end was very rewarding.

*this post originally written 4/25/2007

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Where is Baby's Mommy? Flap Book

Title:Where is Baby's Mommy?
Author:Karen Katz
Age: Birth - 2 years

This is the coolest flap book. My oldest son received it as a first birthday gift from a friend and we read it over and over again. Now my younger son, who is 9 months, loves it too. It has these wonderful, BIG flaps, that are so easy that my little one lifts them himself. He gets the biggest kick out of opening the last one and seeing the mommy and the baby snuggling under the blanket. It helps that I say "Peekaboo" over and over again as he opens and shuts, opens and shuts.

She has a couple of other fun books and they even sell a really cute box set that makes a GREAT baby gift for less than $10.

**Originally written 4/18/2006

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Things That Go

Title:Big Book of Things That Go
Author:DK Publishing
Ages: 2 years - 5 years

This is a big book and perfect for that toddler or preschooler who loves all manner of THINGS THAT GO. Each page covers some category like : In the City, At Sea, or On the Construction Site. Then there are a bunch of photographs of machines with a little text explaining what it is.

Here’s how we use it with my 3 year old. First we go the table of contents. Then he tells me which section he wants (He can’t read – he just tells me from memory or I start reading them out to him) Then I show him how I find out what page it is on by using the Table of Contents and how to find that page in the book. What a fun way to learn about books and numbers! Then when we get to the page, he points to which truck he is interested in and I read the text and we talk about that machine till he is ready to move to another.

I also catch him flipping through it sometime looking at the incredibly large amount of really interesting pictures when he is playing alone in his room.

**Originally written April 16, 2006

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Hiking In Portland

When we decided to visit Portland, I requested a pile of books from our local library. I am loving looking through them all, even if it is a bit overkill for such a short trip. I just like to know what my options are and also just enjoying looking at travel books.

The ones I am looking through today are Portland Forest Hikes and Portland City Walks.

Our family really enjoys "hiking." I put it in quotes because some people may call what we do "walking" with 2 young children. But we really enjoy doing active things and like to have some options on vacations that do not involve crowds and spending money. So that is why I requested these two books - one on walking in the city and one with nearby nature hikes.

Portland City Walks looks like it has a lot of good information in it. But dragging the kids along city streets for several miles has the potential to go poorly. I am going to hang onto this book so we can maybe do sections of walks that correspond with where we will be walking anyway.

Portland Forest Hikes also looks like a really handy guide. I quickly sifted through the hikes and came up with 2 options (there are 20 in the book) that meet my requirements for length, elevation gain and ability to get there via public transit. (More on how we will not have our car later!) The two hikes I found (#1 and #5) are 3 miles or less and reachable via TriMet bus.

I'll have to add these ideas to my growing list of possibilities which I will need to narrow down at some point.

*Note: I have written a bunch of posts about Portland so if you want to read more, click on the Portland Label at the end of the post, and you will see all the Portland entries.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

My Car

Title:My Car
Author:Byron Barton
Age: 1 year- 3 years

Ok, we are big Byron Barton fans in this house. He has written a bunch of really cute/informative books, lots having to do with THINGS THAT GO, which my readers are starting to realize is my 3-year old's favorite subject. They are all nice to read with the interesting but simple illustrations and short text.

But by far the absolute favorite of these in our house is My Car. Instead of just having dry information about cars, this book has a cute little story about a guy named Sam. For some reason I get such a kick out of it - a simple baby book with a plot. (And lots of fun illustrations of cars.) What more can you ask for?

**This post was written 4/13/2006**

Saturday, February 07, 2009

Ideas for Portland, OR trip

I think this trip to Portland is going to be a lot of fun. There seem to be so many places to visit. Right now I am trying to list all the places we might want to go, and then see how many days we need.

I noticed they have an Attractions Pass available which seems like it could be a good deal, depending of course on how many of the places you were planning on going.

Here are the ideas I have so far:
*Note: I have written a bunch of posts about Portland so if you want to read more, click on the Portland Label at the end of the post, and you will see all the Portland entries.

Friday, February 06, 2009

Unplugged Project : Float

We participated in this week's Unplugged Project again. The theme this week is FLOAT and we decided to do more science projects. My kids are pretty little so this was super simple, but we really had a fun time making predictions about what would happen and trying different things out as we thought of them.

The original idea came from yet another library book - this one called Boats, Ships, Submarines and Other Floating Machines by Ian Graham.

So basically we started by filling a bowl with water and talking about how some things float and some things sink. After discussing that heavy things sink, we talked specifically about play-doh. When I put a ball of play-doh in the water, it sunk of course. But when I made the play-doh into a boat like shape then it floated. This is to show that it also has to do with the shape and not just the weight.

After that we floated a metal jar lid and I let the boys mess around with it to figure out in what situations it would float and when it would sink. They really had a nice time with that, and got a little wet which is always a plus for kids.

I confess I also tried another activity from the book to make a submarine but was not quite able to get it to work. Maybe tomorrow we will give that another shot.

I did take photos but this project was not very photogenic so there wasn't really anything worth posting.

Tuesday, February 03, 2009

Oldie but Goodie: "Count and See" by Tana Hoban

Title: Count and See
Author:Tana Hoban
Ages: 3 years- 5 years

My 3-year old adores this book. He is obsessed with counting right now and he loves to look through this book INDEPENDENTLY. (Making this one of my favorite books as well) The pictures are all really nice black and white photographs. Ok, I know that sounds boring but it is actually really nice. I have to warn you of something else. Don’t laugh at the cover photo - This book was written in the 70s. All the other photos are of items that don’t show their age.

Each page has the number in digits and spelled out in letters, plus dots to count AND a photograph of something really interesting to count. It goes straight from 1-15 and then 20, 30, 40,50 and 100. Really great since my son was getting really tired of counting only from 1-10.

**This post was originally written 4/14/2006**