Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Have you ever walked over those purple glass blocks in Seattle and wondered what they are? Or wondered about the original city planners and what they were thinking?

In hopes of preserving Seattle's history Bill Speidel started giving tours of the Seattle Underground. If you love history, comedy, dark underground tunnels filled with debris, don't miss these guided tours, which run year round. I have been on this tour dozens of times and it never gets old. Usually raunchy and irreverent, sometimes sentimental no tour is the same.

After all these Seattle Skylights might not be around forever!

If you are interested in learning more about the history of Historic Seattle check out Sons Of The Profits Or, There's No Business Like Grow Business! The Seattle Story, 1851-1901 by Bill Speidel

School Photos

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Me - 4th grade
Wow this picture is so embarassing!

I volunteered to help herd the kids through the school picture day line up this year at my sons school and it finally answered my questions about why my sons school photos are more of a mug shot than a portrait.

First I was so surprised to see how nervous so many of the kids were...  I quickly realized they just needed to relax and as I was the last person they saw before I assigned them a photographer I tried my best to joke around and be silly with them as a way to distract them from feeling like they were about to visit the dentist.

But it was watching the actual photographers that really shocked me. Throughout elementary school I remember having the same photographer year after year.  He makes jokes and poked fun at the kids to help everyone relax and smile.  I remember every year he would make a joke about me being Peppermint Patty from Charlie Brown as he did to all the red heads. This bugged me to no end because she was a tom boy and I didn't want anything to do with being a tom boy!  But at least he was attempting to make some sort of connection with each child.  These photographers were more like the lady at  the DMV, stand over there look over here... click... 

For some reason I still feel compelled to order a package of these mug shots each year for tradition sake... but now I really see why they never capture who my child is. 
Awsumb is now in the 4th grade. At his school 4th grade is more like middle school.  There are about 13 kids in his class.  The kids have a home room, and different teachers for each subject.  The students are required to begin learning how to organize a school planner with their assignments.  4th grade continues to study Spanish and begins learning Latin, which has quickly become Awsumb's favorite subject.  He also gleans the most from simple classes like P.E. and music by asking for more details and history behind the songs and games they learn.

Each year during the many conferences scheduled with Awsumb's teachers I walk into them trying to prepare myself to get ready to hear all about how he talks to much... which often leads to other discussions about him learning to be more respectful and not arguing with teachers.

This week it was so refreshing to hear that his skills of communication are finally paying off and to hear how valued he is because of his leadership and communication skills. Awsumb's teachers also report that he shows empathy for all the children in the class and they know they can count on him to acknowledge other students ideas and to bring other students who may feel left out into the group.

But what I am even more excited about is his voracious need to learn everything he can.  Awsumb comes out of any lessons, a music lesson, Latin class, etc. with slips of paper on which he has written topics and things he plans to research further... because, he just can't get enough!

Awsumb regularly spends the first 30 minutes after I pick him up, talking nonstop about specific lesson he had during the day. He will repeat it word for word and then tell me all the questions and ideas he has regarding the subject.  I am so excited that he has fully gleaned the most out of the Montessori classroom and that he can now see that his education is his responsibility, that if there is anything he wants to learn about to go ahead and read and research and ask all the questions he needs until he gets the answers he is looking for.

And the best thing to hear was that his teachers don't see a disrespectful bone in his body, that they think it would hurt him, to the core, if he thought he had disrespected them in any way.  Here I kept thinking he needed to have more fear of adults so that he would be respectful out of fear, but once again, he teaches me, showing me that respect grown out of the desire to be respected in return is soooo much better than fear.

And that because of this respect, Awsumb has taken it upon himself to approach teachers when he needed more specific direction or to work out a plan to catch  up on work he had fallen behind on.  But even better is that he seeks them out because he values their friendship and is so excited to share his ideas and passions with them because, "We just have so much in common!" as he says about  his teachers.  He truly considers them mentors and friends and I appreciate the time they have each taken to develop a personal relationship with him.

Oh, how I just love, love, love being the mother of the most Totally Awsumb little boy ever!

Arches National Park

Monday, November 7, 2011

Awsumb Kenneth Hardy
10th Birthday at Delicate Arch
October 19, 2011
I have been dying to take Awsumb to see some of Southern Utah.  So this year when we planned to visit family in Utah I made sure to plan a few days for us to drive down to Arches National Park.
Awsumb was so excited and kept asking, "So we are really going to be IN Arches ON my birthday?" and then there was the "Can I wear my new leather jacket?" questions...  He didn't realize how warm it could be in Southern Utah even in October. 

First thing, Awsumb was dying to go to
After a steak dinner at Jeffrey's Steakhouse
(organic grass fed beef and local veggies)
it was time for bed to rest up for the long day of hiking.
When it comes to accomodations,
Moab leaves much to be desired.
Awsumb was especially excited to see Balancing Rock
 because it was featured in an Indiana Jones movie. 
Awsumb and Kenneth
sporting his new T-shirt
I wouldn't want to be under this rock this when it falls!
This place makes boys feel like men! 
(the base of Balanced Rock)
placed by rangers and visitors
mark the trails throughout the park
Tree at Balanced Rock
Awsumb snapped this photo of
 some Awesome Rock Climbers
 Park rules state that no named
arches or spires should be climbed.
We named the below rock
Kid Rocks! 
Can you see it?
Looks a little like a Lego Mini-fig?
Tourette Arch (from the Windows)

The Windows
Wendy and Awsumb
Kenneth under the arch
Awsumb photographs the arch
Awsumb's photo 
Through to the backside of The Windows 
Both Windows

Parade of The Elephants
Elephant Arch 
My favorite, so beautiful! 
Let's climb up! 
Awsumb enjoyed exploring under these arches,
he wished he could explore the caves,
 also seen in an Indiana Jones movie
Awsumb's thought the Kangaroo Squirrel were cute 

A Little Birthday Picnic Lunch!

Delicate Arch
A moderate 1.5 mile "trail" up steep rock,
ending with a short distance on a high cliff
until you finally round a corner
and end up on the edge of the
big bowl including Delicate Arch. 
Awsumb has a fear of heights and I knew the hike to
Delicate Arch would test his ability to cope with that,
but that he would feel so accomplished after,
so I pushed him along and in the end he had to wait for me!
 Awsumb was more than just a little nervous walking
around the steep bowl and even had
 to sit down because he felt so dizzy.
About this time Awsumb decided to tell everyone
about a friend of ours who had an accident falling 100 feet... 
Yeah, not a converstation to have just then!
And when he finally made it to stand under Delicate Arch...

Awsumb's shot: 
And not too long after this the sun begins to set..

Arches National Park is beautiful at dusk
Fins create a Fiery Furnace!
Dinner at Beck's and BED!
Awsumb was so tired he didn't even
 want to take a swim in the pool!

Arches National Park - Day Two
Proud of his Jr. Ranger status
after completing all requirements
 and of course having a long
 converstation with a Ranger
regarding his questions and ideas!
Just a short walk through the fins and sand to...
Sand Dune Arch
Kenneth and Awsumb
The cool sands are perfect place to cool of on a hot afternoon. 
I remember playing here for quite some time when I came as a teen.
 There is so much exploring to do. 
 As usual, Awsumb wasn't so interested in digging in the sand!
The day before we left my father gave Awsumb
 this official US Army Air Chemical Test Kit. 
 Awsumb thought it was so great
and filled it with his first aid kit,
pocket knife and compass. 
He carried it all over the park
and had to explain to everyone what it was!
 Thanks Dad!

This arch is free to be explored...
we saw people climb all through
and up to the top edges of these fins

 Skyline Arch
(previously called "An Arch in the Making"
before a huge chunk fell one day!)

Arches is a great park for all ages. Most of the arches can easily be seen in one day.  And most of the hikes are pretty easy... Even Delicate Arch can be viewed from a choice of two easier trails (though at a distance).  But there is also so much to explore in Arches and you could spend days here or come back again and again. Who knows maybe over the years you will be witness to some of the erosion process!

And then it was off to hunt for DINOS! 

The Awsumb family at Delicate Arch in the 80's
Brian, Wendy, Jennie, Katie and Dennis