Friday, July 30, 2010

Reflections at the Zoo

We went to Point Defiance Zoo in Tacoma, WA today to see the Sumatran Tiger mama and her two sweet cubs, Bima (the boy, whose name means "brave") and Mali (the girl, whose name means "flower").  While there I kept my eye out for reflections so I could participate in Weekend Reflections, and here are three.  Reflections are so fun! 

Jaya and her cubs, Bima and Mali

Thursday, July 29, 2010

A Walk Around Our Yard

Yesterday my younger daughter and I took a walk around our yard to see what we could see!  It was a very nice walk! Come along and see some of the things we saw. . .

 Broadleaf plantain growing on our driveway:

Pineapple weed, aka wild chamolmile, also growing in 
our driveway (the flowers smell so good!):

Bittersweet nightshade growing on the side of our 
driveway (warning: these are poisonous!!): 

Bittersweet nightshade berries -- they will turn a pretty
red as they ripen, but they are poisonous!!

Our blackberries (below) are just starting
to ripen! I can't wait!! Yum!

I think we'll have a lot of blackberries this year!

My daughter spotted this little 
bug on a blackberry leaf:

See the bumblebee on the tansy ragwort?

My daughter pointed out the cool spores
on the fern (I think it's a western sword fern):

My daughter peeled off the outer part of this nut from 
the beaked hazlenut tree and showed it to me:

We saw pretty pink honeysuckle in a tree:

And pretty everlasting pea (not edible!):

I had trouble getting a good picture of this
English plantain, but our cat Joe sure is cute!

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Our Sand Clay Creations

Earlier this week I read about homemade sand clay in the beautiful blog Childhood Magic: A Homeschooling Photo Journal. You make clay from sand at the beach, water, and cornstarch (the full recipe is on Family Fun's website in their article How to ... Create a Sand Castle That Lasts). It looked so fun, and I decided that the next time we went to the beach we would get some sand so we could try making sand clay creations. We picked some up at Burfoot Beach near Olympia, WA, when we visited there yesterday, and here are our creations!

My younger daughter made this beautiful candle holder:

Here is the pretty bowl my older daughter made:

My older son made this cute elephant candle holder:

Here is the very nice candle holder that my younger son made:

I even made one, too! 

Burfoot Park, Olympia, WA

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On Friday our family went to Burfoot Park near Olympia for the first time. Burfoot Park is down toward the bottom of the Puget Sound and has 50 acres of land and 1,100 feet of salwater beach frontage on Budd Inlet.

The park has with trails, picnic areas, and a play area, but we spent most of our time there down at the beach. The trail to the beach is full of gorgeous green plants and trees, and then into the opening between the trees comes the view of the beautiful water.  It's a peaceful, rocky beach where you can find sea glass, watch the seagulls, and discover sea creatures. We aren't very experienced yet at finding sea creatures, but we did find sand dollars and a jelly fish. We were sometimes surprised (and giggled!) when water squirted us from some of the holes on the beach. We were told that geoducks are responsible for that. Some of the other creatures that can be found there are crabs, star fish, and moon snails.

Though we didn't see any moon snails, I found out this morning that we did see possible signs of moon snails--empty bivalve shells with a little hole in them (moon snails eat the soft insides of bivalve mollusks after making a hole in their shell). We wondered why some of the shells has nice holes in them making them perfect to put on a string. It's not a pleasant reason to think of, but at least now we know why!

Here are some pictures we took, and I'll probably post more another day, too.

The start of the trail to the beach:

(My husband took this picture.)

(My older son took this picture.)

Looking for seaglass (and drawing in the sand):

Sea glass my older daughter found:

Sea glass my older son found:

Sea glass my younger daughter found (she sadly 
accidentally lost her pretty blue one right before we left):

My younger son showing us a piece of sea glass he found:

A live eccentric sand dollar, aka, Pacific sand dollar:
(picture taken by my older son)

Friday, July 16, 2010

Reading a Book

I love this picture of my 9 year old daughter reading her book on our porch! It makes my heart happy to see her enjoying two of my favorite things, two things I think are among the most important in life -- being outside and reading a book! ♥

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Seaweed at Tolmie State Park

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On Monday, I shared about the crabs at Tolmie State Park near Olympia, WA. Today I'm focusing on the seaweed.

When we went to the beach at Tolmie State Park the tide was very low, approximately -3.1, and we walked as far out on the beach as we could. We enjoyed ourselves, we really did. One thing you should know, though, is that the beach is very wet and there is a lot of seaweed in the water. Thank goodness I had read a review of the beach before going that mentioned the beach being wet and that suggested wearing a pair of shoes you don't mind getting wet. That's very good advice!

When we thought about it too much it seemed kind of gross walking through all the wet seaweed, and there was a smell, too, that wafted up while we carefully traveled by foot through the water, but overall we had a fun time and learned a lot. There is a river there that flows into the ocean, and we noticed that the water is more clear in that area.

There is a drier area closer to shore where children can play in the sand, there are rocks to look under to find little crabs, and there are sand dollars (the dark ones are alive so be gentle with them). You can bring a beach chair or sit on a log and relax in the sun and enjoy the beautiful scenery. It's a nice place to be. Please note, though, that if you like to search for sea glass, this beach doesn't really have any.

Here are some pictures of the low tide and the seaweed!

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Some Ocean Creatures Found at Sunnyside Beach Park

We went to Sunnyside Beach Park in Steilacoom, WA, again, and had a really fun time. We went yesterday because the tide was so low -- it went down to -3.1 (you can check out the tides here: I was hoping to see some neat sea animals, and we did!

Here are some of the cool ocean creatures we found. . .

We think these are sea anemones 
with barnacles on either side:

Here is a neat crab with a light-colored body and dark legs:

He blends in so well with his surroundings:

This is a starfish that at first we thought had died because we found him just lying there on the beach upside down, and he didn't seem to move when held. After a few minutes, though, while I was holding him I noticed a leg had started moving. We put him in the water, and I sure hope he lived. His orange color is so pretty!

Here is a hermit crab! At first sight it seemed to be a sea snail, but when it was picked up, we were surprised when a little creature poked his legs out!  Wikpedia says, "Most frequently hermit crabs use the shells of sea snails; the tip of the hermit crab's abdomen is adapted to clasp strongly onto the columella of the snail shell. As the hermit crab grows in size, it has to find a larger shell and abandon the previous one. This habit of living in a second hand shell gives rise to the popular name "hermit crab", by analogy to a hermit who lives alone."

Below is a type of mollusk (in the class "Bivalvia"), but I'm not sure what exactly it is. If you know, please share! At first it looked very much like (very unusual) two-toned rock, so I bent down to pick it up, and the top part opened up! And then it closed and then opened it again! It was clearly not just a rock. ;)

And this last picture if of an interesting creature I haven't a clue as to what it is. If you know what it is, please let me know!  :-)