Tillamook Cheese Factory Tour

Here’s what we learned:
The original owners first came in the 1800s to Tillamook Oregon to farm crops. Harvest became an issue due to weather. They noticed a part of their uncultivated farm remained green with grass. Their cows were always happy and that became the start of the dairy farm.

The self guided tour of the factory was fascinating. There were plenty of posted information on the history, the cheese-making process and a farmer’s daily schedule.

They offered free cheese samples in which I had to decline because I’m lactose intolerant. There was a gift shop, cafe and small store that featured -you guessed it- tillamook cheese.

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A Day Out with Daddy

Olympic Flight Museum

This museum displayed restored aircrafts from World War 2 era. His new friend Dillon invited him along with other homeschool local kids. This was Richard’s department, so he was my photographer and Owen’s guide for the day.

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Later that evening…

Lego Challenge at Olympia Library

Tonight’s theme was build a playground with your group. Owen built a tire swing, a slide and a jungle gym. Here’s everyone looking at their work.

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A Day at Hogwarts

During the Halloween Boo Bash at the Hands On Children’s museum; I met someone who told me about an upcoming Math Festival at a private school called Annie Wright school.

Annie Wright School in Tacoma looked like Hogwarts!
Annie Wright School in Tacoma looked like Hogwarts!

The school caters to boarding girls 9-12th grade. But it’s also open for boys and girls K-8. The Math Festival was free and we thought it’d be an experience for Owen. Plus, we saw a picture of the school building and we thought it looked like Hogwarts minus Harry Potter characters. Owen agreed that it would be fun to see what Hogwarts looks like. And you all know me, how architecture and creepy buildings fascinate me. We just had to experience it first hand. The math festival was just an excuse, a good excuse.

As you can see from the pictures, Owen had a good time at the math festival. He hopped from table to table. Each table had puzzles, games and problems to solve. Volunteers were there to guide them.

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Our next visit to the school was today, a Fall Visit Day. Owen got to experience what it’s like to attend school the entire day. He attended classes, had recess, lunch break and got to laugh, learn and play with like-minded boys and girls. He was there 8am-3pm

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This is Connor: this gentle and kind young boy was assigned to Owen. Connor, who is also in 5th grade, took Owen under his wing. They attended his math, English, Spanish, drama and music classes.

 

The parents also went on a tour of the campus. We got to ask questions about their programs and their tuition fees and what it included (like field trips to the Grand Canyon and Costa Rica. Air, lodging and food included. Not only that, but laptops are included in the tuition). Impressive.

 

While Owen was enjoying the campus tour, Richard and I went to the movies and saw Fury. (Finally!!). This particular theatre was fun because it had reclining seats. All reservable, by the way, in which we were lucky to get in on Veterans Day watching a war movie. This movie experience is definitely worth repeating.

 

This AMC theatre had reclining seats.
This AMC theatre had reclining seats.

 

Owen had stories to share. I asked him if he thought of me and missed me. He affectionately placed his head on my arm and said ‘no’. His memorable moments: watching Connor and his class practice lines for an upcoming school play, watching them play their violin during music class and meeting the class pet turtle and the turtle’s girlfriend named Jeffrey (a stuffed animal turtle and yes, with a boy name). It was comical listening to Owen tell us about the turtle. He was laughing so hard he couldn’t finish the story.

Owen had a great day at Hogwarts.

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Washington State Fair, Puyallup

Owen enjoyed the giant slide.
Owen enjoyed the giant slide.
My bumper-car riding boys.
My bumper-car riding boys.
Richard says he could do this all day and take a nap in it.
Richard says he could do this all day and take a nap in it.
Archery Club members were there for the public.
Archery Club members were there for the public.
Chess Club members were there to offer tips to chess players. This particular person wasn't too happy to play with Owen. You can tell by her body language. He later tells me that she was grumpy.
Chess Club members were there to offer tips to chess players. This particular person wasn’t too happy to play with Owen. You can tell by her body language. He later tells me that she was grumpy.

The good that came out of this painful game of chess was meeting a homeschooling mom. As soon as I said we’re home schoolers too, we connected. She friended me on facebook that second and invited us to a field trip at a farm located in our city. We’ll be keeping in touch.

We had a special parking spot specifically for oversized trucks. It was so much easier getting in and out.
We had a special parking spot specifically for oversized trucks. It was so much easier getting in and out.
Picture of the day.
Picture of the day.

Gracing us with her presence…

August 26, 2014 Tuesday

My sister Pauline is in town for the week. She arrived today and brought with her plenty of California sun.  After picking her up from the airport, we went straight to business. We walked all over downtown Seattle.

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Enjoying a ride on The Great Wheel on Pier 57.
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Can you spot the Space Needle? This is the view from inside the Great Wheel.

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Sisterly love. Just what I needed!

While the boys are on Pier 57, Pauline and I get lost (in purpose) at Pikes Place Chowder on Post Alley. We had clam chowder, sourdough bread and crab roll. It was really fun just hanging out with my little sister before she gets married in December.

 

 

August 28, 2014 Thursday

Today, Richard and I are on an overnight date. We bought burritos from a food truck, stuffed them in my purse and had lunch at the movies! Shhhh, don’t tell them. We saw “Lucy” (Scarlett Johansson) and was blown away. We had a lot to discuss the moment it ended!

Afterwards, we checked into Swantown Inn Bed & Breakfast.

 

This beautiful Victorian house is very elegant inside and out.
This beautiful Victorian house is very elegant inside and out.

The house has a lot of character and is very still and silent. The owners have homemade cookies for guests. We took a few to take home  to Owen and to pay our babysitter…

While away, my sister babysat Owen. Here’s what she did for him:

Eating s'mores while reading a good book.
She made him s’mores.
She built him a campfire.
She built him a campfire.

 

She & Owen went on the roof of our trailer. I just about had a heart attack whenI saw the picture. Look at him, all smiles and unattended.
She & Owen went on the roof of our trailer. I just about had a heart attack whenI saw the picture. Look at him, all smiles and unattended.
Thumbs up, no one is hurt, having a blast...
Thumbs up, no one is hurt, having a blast…

 

She roasted vegetarian sausages.
She roasted vegetarian sausages.
Owen loves Aunt Pauline.
Owen loves Aunt Pauline.

Charming Towns

Carla from American Heritage Campground gave us a list of neighboring towns, highlighting shops, restaurants and fun things to do. We 86’d our hiking plans and explored instead.

STOP 1: Mima Mounds, Little Rock.

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These unusual and mysterious mounds are covered by beautiful prairie grassland with native wildflowers and bunch grasses.
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As we walked around the loop trails, we learned about prairie ecology. We ventured out a little bit and discovered they felt spongy and (a bit strange). It felt as if we were disturbing whoever was sleeping under it.
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We found these berries along the trail. My Jr. Ranger had his gear with him and we were able to pick up samples. We didn’t want to eat it without knowing what it is.

 

STOP 2: Rock Quarry Pool, Tenino. There’s a serene wading fresh-water pool with a waterfall for Owen to play in but we got sidetracked. There’s more to this gem we still have yet to discover and share with everyone.

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The moment Owen saw these rocks, he didn’t want to do anything else but climb it. He said it was like climbing giant lego pieces.
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While he played Indiana Jones, Richard explored on his own while I had “alone time” with my phone. Happy hour.

 

STOP 3: Lattin’s Country Cider Mill, Olympia. This wonderful discovery led us to this charming farm-store with free petting zoo. It reminded us of Riley’s Farm back home. We look forward to returning in the fall.

 

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They made fresh donuts. Our snack: custard-filled donut and cider. Upon walking in, we saw locals carrying strawberry cider by the gallon. We took the hint and picked up a quart. Smart move.

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Owen wanted to play with the mountain goats in their climbing gym.
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These furry cuteys followed Owen left and right. See video on facebook.

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ALONG THE SCENIC ROUTE…

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Abandoned structures interest me. Can you imagine my surprise finding this abandoned barn?
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Houses along the road had these little covered-porches up close to the road. We later figured out it’s where children wait for the bus to take them to school. Like in Forest Gump without the stump to sit on.

Mount St. Helens, Washington

July 27, 2014

What a fun day it was! Our day started off slow with morning chores and finally got out of the city after lunch. Way too late to start the day, but Mount St. Helens was only 30 minutes away and we had nothing else planned the rest of the day.

Owen earned another badge at the visitor center by completing a Junior Geologist Booklet. There’s a great exhibit with detailed pictures and facts about the eruption that took place 1980. (Please stop by the tab entitled “Education on the go” to see pictures.) He learned a lot, but he learned more by going on this helicopter tour…

 

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I nearly threw up when Richard and Owen suggested we go on a helicopter. My fear of heights wouldn’t get us far. So it was decided that they’d have a father & son bonding hour. I had my happy hour on earth with my feet planted on the ground. More about that later…
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Owen’s reaction is priceless!!

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This is the pilot, Captain Soren who gave me a high five, thanking me for trusting him with my boys' lives.
This is the pilot, Captain Soren who gave me a high five, thanking me for trusting him with my boys’ lives.

 

 

This is where I was. Safe on earth.
This is where I was. Safe on earth.

I’m sitting under the umbrella making friends with the safety officer. He is from Juneau, Alaska and was giving me must-do and see during our trip to Anchorage next week. He told me about this funny story during his July 4th.  The entire block have front yard barbecues and fireworks go off in the sky and you can barely see it because the sun doesn’t go down. Still, the residents ooh and ahh at the fireworks even if it’s faint in the Alaska skies…

I also met a woman who happens to be Captain Soren, (the pilot)’s girlfriend. They are from Portland, Oregon. When I expressed that we’re interested in spending winter in the area, she gave me a lot of pointers. She told me what to expect in weather, job opportunities, apartment rental-locations, etc. I basically interviewed her.

Later on, we were talking about how nice it is to hire a maid to do our house chores. I told her I used to have a housekeeper and often felt guilty; but boy, did it feel good to come home to a clean house! I don’t know how we ended up talking about that out of the blue… It was great to have met her.  She kept me company while she waited for her boyfriend to be done for the day. It was nice to have met a friend…