Last week I was invited by Goodwill to visit Sumner, to see how small businesses there are upcycling thrift store purchases into desirable and unique household goods and clothing. I’d never been to Sumner before and was surprised to find a pretty little High Street full of independent shops selling art, antiques and other unique and interesting finds. I will definitely return, especially since it is the Rhubarb Pie Capital.
I wanted to choose something that would appeal to my kids or would be cool decor for a preschool so we went for the toy section. Old toy cars, toy animals with a hole cut in them or small dolls houses would all make great planters. It would also be a great way to save the environment from the multitude of plastic toys thrown away every year.
I plumped for a Halloween theme and chose a Monster High coffin. I also chose a pair of baby shoes. Sadly, I threw out all my baby shoes when I moved to the US (including the ones featured in my logo), if only I hadn’t, I could have turned them into something like this.
At Blue the Goodwill Boutique, I found this little table and chairs and an old tea set at Junkers Nest.
My intention, once the rainy season is over, is to plant in the little cups and put it out in the garden. For now the girls have commandeered it for their American girl dolls.
We spent the day gaining inspiration for upcycling goods from Inta Vintage . By the end my mind was racing with ideas of how to upcycle some of my old furniture.
If the rain is getting you down, Seussical Jnr at Village Theatre Kidstage, Issaquah, can’t fail to put a smile on your face. Many theatre goers shy away from kids productions for fear that they might not be any good. My own perceptions have been changed over the years since seeing some truly excellent junior productions. I attended Seussical’s opening night because my daughter is playing the baby kangaroo, but I was in awe of this amazing cast and felt compelled to share my experience.
The last time I saw Seussical, it was performed by a group of talented adults (many of whom I had appeared on stage with) in Bristol, UK. I had been told by many that Kidstage productions would exceed all expectations. The competition for a place in the cast is fierce with over a hundred children auditioning for thirty something places. I expected a quality show but these talented kids and teens blew me away and matched and sometimes outdid those adults in the UK.
The show itself, is colourful, high energy, funny, heartwarming and full of memorable songs. Setting the show in a playground and using everyday clothes for the costumes but adding magical twists like animal ears and feathered tails, emphasised the role of imagination, an important theme of the show, where ‘ Anything is Possible’.
Each cast member had a unique character that they maintained throughout the show. Cat in the Hat (Nina Romero), is a fantastic physical actress. Every movement and facial expression embodied this familiar character perfectly and her clear speaking voice and strong, faultless singing made her perfect for this role. Jojo (Natalia Oritz Villacorta) owned the stage, with a wonderfully, rich singing voice that surpassed her age.
Seussical introduces a myriad of familiar Dr. Seuss characters, but the main thread of the story centers around Horton the elephant. McKay Hancock made a perfectly sweet, lovable and downtrodden Horton and his heartfelt opening to Solla Sollew was one of my favourite moments. Arin Sandidge’s, beautiful voice, strong presence and ability to convey every emotion through her eyes, was captivating as Gertrude the bird with the one feathered tail. You couldn’t fail to cheer her on in her quest to get Horton to notice her.
I loved the characterisation of the Mayor and Mrs Mayor of Whoville (Colin Bixler and Eleanor Olsen). The Mayor’s comic timing was wonderful and this was counterbalanced by Mrs Mayor’s strong character and vocal ability.
There wasn’t a weak link in the show – every cast member put their life and soul into the production and there were so many little character moments to watch that I will need to watch it multiple times to catch them all. You can’t help but come out of this show with a smile on your face and you may very well be seeing future stars in the making.
Seussical Jnr runs from 13th – 29th April with performances on Friday evening, Saturday afternoon, Saturday evening and Sunday afternoon. Tickets are available from the Village Theatre box office for $18 general admission or $16 Youth and Senior.
My first introduction to Hamilton was two years ago at the Tony’s. Around the same time, it took my daughter’s middle school by storm. She memorised every word and introduced Hamilton to her younger sisters, who were soon gripped by Hamilton fever.
The whole family took on the challenge to learn the songs and dress up for local Hamiltunes events and my two youngest daughters started a Hamilton club at school.
The long wait to finally get to see Hamilton was over this weekend, when we visited the Paramount Theatre in Seattle. Our only sure-fire way to guarantee tickets when Hamilton arrived in Seattle was to buy a seasons pass and we haven’t regretted it. Every show we have seen this year has been fantastic but Hamilton was the prize ticket.
With two years of hype and excitement, there was a danger that
The kids would be sick of Hamilton by the time it arrived.
It wouldn’t live up to our expectations.
The show opened with a very different type of Burr to the Odin Jnr we were used to. The first five minutes were spent getting used to the new voices and intonations but by the end of the opening we had warmed to the new cast and we were carried away by the spectacular show.
It is solid testimony to the creators of Hamilton, that a show touching the hearts of the nation through the soundtrack alone, is such a visual delight. The choreography, lighting and set are breathtaking but even more spectacular is the way in which all these elements work together to create the story. If you feel you’ve heard the soundtrack, so don’t need to see the show, think again. Seeing the show provides not only a deeper understanding of the plot and characters but also an utter visual delight, incomparable to anything I’ve ever seen on the stage. Lin-Manuel Miranda has certainly set a high bar for all future musical theatre productions. It feels truly groundbreaking, similar to seeing Les Miserables for the first time in the early 90’s.
Shoba Narayan as Eliza and Ta’rea Campbell as Angelica will blow you away with their incredible singing voices and emotive presence. Even knowing the story so well, it is difficult to hold back the tears during the second act. The party behind me (who I suspect didn’t know the story as well) sniffed their way through the performance from ‘Burn’ to the end of Act 2. The perfection of the final lighting cue, shows focused attention to detail and how carefully thought out every moment of Hamilton is.
Is Hamilton suitable for children?
My youngest children are 7 and 9 and big Hamilton fans. Even if children are Hamilton fans, there are a few things to be aware of.
Act 1 is long – around 30 minutes before the interval my 7 yr old told me she was tired and started to get a bit fidgety. If your children don’t know the story or the sequence of songs and are not good at sitting for prolonged periods, I would suggest waiting until they are older.
Make sure you get a booster cushion (we took an extra with us just in case). The theatre will be full and most likely there will be an adult sat in front of them.
Hamilton was a wonderful experience for our family. The children are regular theatre goers and know the show well. If your children are not used to the theatre, children under the age of 8 may not get the full benefit of the experience. Also being aware that this is a once in a lifetime experience for many adults, may help you decide if your child will be a distraction or not.
The final verdict
Smiles all around. Hamilton is the hottest ticket in town with good reason. If you are lucky enough to have the chance to see Hamilton, wherever you are, don’t hesitate – you won’t be disappointed.
My love for Jim Henson’s creations isn’t a secret. As most children of the 70’s and 80’s, I grew up watching Sesame Street, The Muppets and Fraggle Rock. I love the Muppet Movies new and old, I cried buckets when I watched the documentary ‘Being Elmo’ and my greatest ambition is to sing on Sesame Street some day.
My love affair with puppets began when I was nine years old and bought Snoopy and Charlie Brown marionettes with my Christmas money. I joined the Pelham puppets club, who would send me magazines with short play scripts in them. My granddad made me a wooden puppet theatre with a hand painted back drop and curtains you could open and close. I would perform the plays with my friends and remember making costumes for my puppets and performing a show about a witch for my Brownie pack.
Being an early years teacher, gives me the perfect excuse to continue buying puppets as an adult. I love the way young children respond to puppets and they are invaluable props for my parent and toddler music groups. My girls have inherited most of my collection and added some of their own.
I have been looking forward to the Jim Henson exhibition at MoPop since the summer. We decided to save our visit until the winter when the wet weather often drives us indoors. The Jim Henson Imagination Unlimited exhibition continues until 25th February, so there is still chance to visit.
The first part of the exhibition explains Jim Henson’s early career. Jim Henson started out by manipulating his puppets to sing along to music tracks. At the exhibition, you can choose a puppet, and a track and record the puppets miming along to the music. The girls were totally captivated and loved watching themselves on the screen. It was difficult to drag them away.
The other sections feature Jim Henson most famous creations. The journey begins with Sesame Street. I was very exited to see Ernie and Bert, Grover and the Count.
The girls learned about the generic blue puppet used in Sesame Street to create multiple characters. The puppet is blank and features are stuck onto the face to change its appearance, according to the requirements of the script. The girls played at creating different characters. We have a similar puppet at home, made by playskool. The girls have made additional features from felt with Velcro attached.
My favourite part of the Muppets section, was a fascinating video explaining how Miss Piggy and Kermit were able to ride bicycles in one of the muppet movies.
The girls loved showing off their theatrical poses and seeing their favourite character, Beaker.
The final section showed exhibits from The Dark Crystal, Labyrinth and Fraggle Rock.
Outside of the exhibition was a muppet stage set up with miniature instruments. You choose your puppet, a piece of muppet music and create your own puppet show. The girls thought this was wonderful and they were surprisingly good at it.
This inspired them to make a puppet show at home. They often make puppet shows on the stairs, peeking over the bannister. This time, we made a screen from our photo backdrop. The girls went to town customising it and spent the next few days writing a muppet show, full of jokes, magic, music and dancing.
My favourite was four puppets singing along to the Pentatonix sugar plum fairy.
The song features Kermit, the wotnot, and one of our favourite puppets, a Melissa and Doug ballerina named Peh .The girls called her Peh because when she dances her hair falls in her face, so to get it out of her eyes, she tosses her head, saying, ‘peh’.
We’re now adding even more to our collection, as I’ve discovered Goodwill online is great place to find unusual puppets at great prices. I’m a little bit hooked. I recently won an amazing Jim Henson puppet ( more on that to come soon).
I love how the puppets have inspired them to create stories, costumes and props. They have also become interested in how puppets are made, what makes a particularly good puppet and how to be a ventriloquist. I’ll share some of their home made puppets in a future post.
Disclaimer: this post contains Amazon affiliate links. If you purchase products via these links, I receive a small compensation.
Oxbow Farm is my favourite place for field trips. The guides are wonderfully entertaining and keep the kids motivated with songs, movement, challenges and a fast paced, hands-on journey through the farm.
The children learn about the farm plants and have an opportunity to investigate, pick and taste everything, whilst being shown respect for the plants and their environment.
They eat leafy plants being careful not to stand on the plants.
They eat seeds, learning about where the seeds come from, how they are spread and dried out in the greenhouse.
They eat stems. We found tiny celery sticks to try.
They eat flowers. We ate small yellow flowers that tasted like licquorice.
They eat fruit. We ate juicy apples from the tree and found the seeds inside them.
They eat roots. We pulled salad turnips and carrots from the ground, washed them and ate them.
Washed Ashore, is the brainchild of artist and educator, Angela Hazeltine Pozzi, who distressed by the volume of plastic washed up on her beloved Oregon beaches, decided to take action. Pozzi, along with a team of volunteers, created giant sculptures made entirely from the rubbish they found on the beaches. Each sculpture is designed to educate about plastic pollution in our Oceans and encourage a change in consumer habits.
At the entrance you will find Gertrude the Penguin.
Each sculpture comes with an I spy activity, urging visitors to find objects hidden within. They range in difficulty from plastic bottles (of which there are many) to tiny toy cars and cell phones. The girls loved trying to find the hidden objects. It encouraged them to examine how the sculptures were made.
The displays also share facts about plastic pollution in our oceans and the dangers to animals within this ecosystem.
Outside the aquarium are Weedy the Sea Dragon and friends.
My favourites are at the back of the aquarium. I love the detail in the coral reef and walking underneath the plastic bottle jelly fish.
The theme of plastic pollution is present throughout the zoo. The marine exploration centre has many activities encouraging visitors to learn how to be more responsible in our plastic consumprion and creative ways of using non-recyclable plastic, like these botte tops with magnets attached for creating pictures.
The zoo’s new Wild West show, shares a clear message of Refuse, reuse and recycle and the shop and café no longer use single use plastic, including plastic straws and cups.
Once you have seen the sculptures, there are plenty of other things to see. If you haven’t been to Point Defiance before, it has a strong focus on marine animals and an aquarium full of native species and others from warmer climates. Who could resist this little guy?
You can stroke a stingray, anemone or starfish, watch puffins, walruses, seals and polar bears from above and below, ride a camel or hand feed birds.
Our day out really helped the kids think about the things they throw away and the effect it has on the environment. If we were a little closer, I’d love to check out some of their summer events.
It has been a year since we took an amazing trip home. We had a long list of places and people we wanted to visit and top of the list for our stay in Wales was a castle. Growing up in Wales, I took it for granted that my kids would get to visit historical sites with school. Now, I need to pack all the things they can’t experience here, into our visits home.
Top of our list for our week in Wales, was a castle. There are so many castles in Wales it was difficult to choose the right one. I considered Castell Coch and Cardiff Castle, but eventually went for Caerphilly Castle, as it was the most traditional of the 3. I wasn’t certain if it would be too ruinous or if there would be enough there to entertain the kids. As it turned out, it was the kids favourite day out in Wales.
They couldn’t wait to get to the castle as we walked towards it and when they were greeted by Dewi the real Welsh dragon, at the entrance, their excitement mounted.
Dewi, who first arrived at the castle on March 1st 2016, is a star attraction at the castle. This May, he flew to Caernavon Castle, to join his sweetheart Dwynwen. Dwynwen soon laid two eggs. The eggs hatched into baby dragons Dylan and Cariad, on May 26th and are now taking on summer adventures across Wales. The dragons are an integral part of Visit Wales’ 2017 Year of Legends, inspiring visitors to discover Wales’ rich folklore. Dewi has returned to his home at Caerphilly.
Where can you meet Dwynwen and the baby Dragons?
12 -25 June Raglan Castle – Dwynwen and the baby Dragons.
27 June – 9 July Tretower Court
11 – 30 July Kidwelly Castle
1 – 13 August Harlech Castle
15 – 28 Aug Beaumaris Castle
Included in the admission fee (£23.70 for a family ticket admitting 2 adults and up to 3 children under 16) was a treasure hunt activity. The children visited every part of the castle looking for information to answer to clues that would lead them to the treasure.
We descended spiral staircases.
Walked along balconies.
through dark corridors
and explored the grounds for clues.
After hours of fun (and a few painful feet from new shoes) we found the treasure.
The children exchanged their treasure hunts for a special prize in the gift shop. We admired the view and said our goodbye’s to Dewi, before heading home.
I wanted to make a collaborative, three-dimensional piece for our art walk with 2nd grade. The theme for this years art walk is water.
I came across a wonderful project called Washed Ashore . The Washed Ashore project is a joint art and education initiative. Artist Angela Hazeltine Pozzi, worked with hundreds of volunteers to collect plastic washed up onto Oregon beaches, clean it up and turn it into sculptures of sea creatures. The plastic is re-used to create art that represents creatures at-risk from the pollution of ocean plastic.
This image immediately struck me as something we could use as inspiration.
I decided to call our piece “swimming through plastic“, adding origami fish swimming amongst the plastic mobiles .The class have been learning about pollution in social studies this term so this was a perfect project to extend their thinking. The art project was completed in two art sessions.
We began the first lesson with a short video about the Washed ashore project and a discussion about how this linked to their social studies work on water pollution.
As a whole class, we worked step by step to make a simple origami fish. We used this origami tutorial from We are Scout. Some children needed help with the final steps of the fish but most could complete it easily.
Once the children had made a fish some of the children cut plastic bags into strips and tied them to a decorative fishing net that would act as the base of the piece.
The rest of the class worked on making plastic mobiles.
We collected plastics from home to make the mobiles. Ideally I would have scoured the beach for debris and used real beach trash, but the weather has been so awful this spring that we didn’t make it to the coast. I was also a little worried about hygiene, as I wasn’t sure I would be able to clean the plastic well enough.
We collected small pieces such as bottle tops and small plastic toys and larger objects like bottles and containers. The children were given wire, string and tape to fasten the pieces together in any arrangement they wished.
One child chose to place bottle tops in a plastic tub and fill it with water. I explained that the water would make it too heavy so we agreed to remove most of the water but leave a small amount, enough for the bottle tops to float.
By the end of the first lesson we had part of the net assembled, one origami fish per child and ten plastic mobiles.
I wanted to involve the children as much as possible in putting the piece together. Our next art lesson was the day before the art walk so we used this time to assemble it and create more pieces.
The lesson was split into four stations.
origami fish – a small group worked to make more fish
tying the fish to line and attaching them to the net – we punched holes into the fish and tied on the thread.
cutting strips of plastic bag and tying them to the net – I found more blue plastic bags and the children cut and tied them at different lengths
making mobiles from plastic. – this time we provided smaller pieces, that they assembled to make long, lightweight mobiles.
The Art Walk
My aim was to make this a piece that could be walked under. To create this, we mounted it around the frame of a basketball hoop with wire. The fish and mobiles were then attached at the appropriate height.
The water-filled mobile takes pride of place at the front of the display
Washed Ashore Exhibit at Point Defiance Zoo and Aquarium
When I was searching for information about the project to share with the children, I was excited to discover that the art pieces will be visiting Point Defiance Zoo and Aquarium from 22nd April, so the children will have an opportunity to see them for themselves.
Each sculpture is accompanied by an interpretive sign that gives its name, information about the animal it depicts, and an “I Spy”-style list of plastic items that visitors can hunt for among the mountain of trash that Pozzi turned into an appealing sea creature or shore bird.
We’re bringing this exhibit to Point Defiance
Zoo & Aquarium to emphasize our deep
commitment to teaching our visitors that their
daily actions have consequences far beyond
what they might imagine,” said Karen Povey,
the zoo’s Curator of Conservation Engagement.
“We see Washed Ashore as an opportunity for families to learn more about the connection between our actions and the ocean – and do it in a very fun way,” says Andrea Smith , president of the Metro Parks Tacoma Board of Commissioners.
Point Defiance Zoo & Aquarium eliminated the sale of single-use plastic water, soda and juice bottles from its café and vending machines early this year, along with plastic bags in its gift shop and plastic straws and drinking cup lids.
The zoo has been a conservation leader in the Puget Sound region for 112 years, and they are proud to continue that tradition in 2017 with Washed Ashore. The exhibition runs until October 21 2017. I’m hoping to attend in a few weeks time, so watch this space for more insights into this exhibit.
This weekend we were invited to the March of the Vegetables, a community event in Duvall to support Snoqualmie Valley farmers.
The event began with a parade for vegetables. My family found the idea of dressing as a vegetable suitably hilarious and loved the comment on the website – What if I don’t want to be a vegetable? Local artists have been working with the community over the past few weeks, to create costumes and props – some were really imaginative and some simple, such as a man covered in branches to look like a tree.
A kind lady handed us some beetroot seeds. I love beetroot so will look forward to planting them.
The parade made it’s way to Depot Park where local farmers and artists had stalls. There was live music and a fire pit to keep warm, beer, wine and hot apple cider and lots of smiling faces.
The kids made their own entertainment by rolling down the bank which quickly got muddy. I observed two boys lying face down in the mud, smearing it over their faces.
My daughter enjoyed making a hat and puppets with a local artist and the little ones made a puppet theatre to put them in, when they got home.
I love these little community events as we all need an excuse to get out and celebrate during rainy March. We’ll definitely head back next year.
I used to work with a wonderful teacher who celebrated Holi with the children every year by covering their clothes and throwing powder paint around our art room. It was always a favourite time of the year but we thought him very brave for taking it on indoors.
Since then, I’ve always thought my kids would love to be involved in the celebrations. This year I took them to the Festival of Colour at Redmond City Hall. This is how they describe the festival,
The festival does not recognizes any bars of caste, class or creed. Drenched in colors, everybody comes to resemble each other losing their original self. This is the beauty of this festival. Its uniqueness lies in the fact that this festival treats everybody at par, all differences dissolve in the colored water that flows in plenty in it.
Holi calls to put an end to any hard feelings that might have cropped up during the year. People apply color and give each other a friends hug as they greet Holi, the tradition is called, ‘Holi Milan’. It is strongly believed that even enemies turn friend on the day of Holi.
Holi announces the arrival of spring and the passing of winter. The festival breathes an atmosphere of social merriment. People bury their hatchets with a warm embrace and throw their worries to the wind. Every nook and corner presents a colorful sight. Young and old alike are covered with colors (red, green, yellow, blue, black and silver). People in small groups are seen singing, dancing and throwing colors on each other.
Two bags of coloured powder costs $5 on the day and slightly cheaper if you book in advance. Other packages are also available, for those who want additional colours, t-shirts or food. We chose two bags each which was plenty for at least an hour of fun.
Wading in mud, music and dancing and throwing coloured powder at each other – it was pretty much my kids idea of Heaven. Strangers greeted them with cries of Happy Holi as they daubed colours onto their face.
They competed to see who could get the most colourful hair.
And their favourite part was the countdown.
All topped off with a bit of dancing.
Mess, music, fun and friendship, essential ingredients for the best festivals .