This year is the first one in a while I have been excited about my garden. Working from home for the past few months due to the Corona virus has greatly reduced my commute time from 3-4 hours a day to nothing and this means […]
Oscoey’s three year anniversary passed in March and as much as I wanted to write a post about it we were dealing with Covid-19 and still adjusting to working from home, teaching our kids and being home together all the time. Oscoey was something I […]
Out last post detailed the first half of our Victoria, B.C. trip last year when we went to Butchart Gardens. June was definitely a great time to go and see all of the flowers in bloom and it seemed far less crowded that it would be in mid-summer. Since we had the kids with us we tried to find kid friendly activities that weren’t too expensive. There are a lot of things to do in Victoria including the Wax Museum, Butchart Gardens, The Seawall, Whale Watching, Beacon Hill Park, The B.C Parliament Building, Fancy Tea, The Royal B.C Museum, Craigdarroch Castle, numerous beaches, and hiking just to name a few but we only had a couple of days and shorter attention spans to think about so we settled on Butchart Gardens, Miniature World, Beacon Hill Park and Spiral Beach (which is part of Beacon Hill Park) for our three day trip.
One of our requirements for a hotel is now that it has a pool so that we can take the kids for a quick swim when they need to get some energy out but the timing doesn’t really work for any longer activities. Our kids are early risers and sometimes it works out to have breakfast in our room and go swimming before we leave for the day’s activities at around 9:00 am (and usually for second breakfast!). Other times we take a quick swim after dinner before heading to our room for movie night. We did go swimming on our Victoria trip this year but our favorite part of the hotel was the gigantic Koi pond in the lobby. Our kids loved looking at the Koi and even got to help out with feeding time! I am sure when they are a little bit older this will be less cool but for now it was awesome free entertainment.
The second day we headed to Beacon Hill park to wander around and check out the Children’s Farm located on the property. The Children’s Farm has a suggested donation of $4.00 per person for entry and we ended up donating $20.00 for our family of four. I don’t mind paying a little bit extra for a good cause! The Children’s Farm is famous for its goat stampede so we made sure to get there in time for the morning one it did not disappoint us. The goats were super cute running down the path to their daytime pen and afterwards the kids got to go in the enclosure with the goats and pet them. There were many other animals at the farm that our kids liked to watch and pet and overall we had a good time. The farm was on the small side but it was a great way to spend some of our time at the park.
One of the cool things about having the farm at the park was the peacocks running around. They were everywhere around the farm and we even saw them across the street grazing with the ducks. I did wonder though how great it was for the local wildlife to have these gigantic birds hanging around but they seemed to stay really close to the farm so it was probably ok. Our kids had fun looking for them and got really excited when they spread their tail feathers out.
One of the activities we love to do on our vacations is explore the local parks and at Beacon Hill park we spent some time walking around. There was a fabulous playground that we spent some time at and several ponds with different waterfowl grazing in the grass nearby. We saw a deer wandering through a meadow and looked at the different types of trees that we found. We also spent some time talking about how different the trees were from our home even though we weren’t that far away. I try to incorporate talking about the landscape of the places we visit to teach the kids to look around them a little bit more and to highlight the differences in what grows with different types of environments. So far my kids are still pretty excited to hear about it and since we have been doing more traveling lately they have begun to notice similarities and differences between the places we have visited so at least some of it has stuck!
Part of our wandering around the park to us up to the top of Beacon Hill where we saw this gorgeous view! We spent as much time as we could here looking around, reading the plaque and looking for more deer but the kids were impatient for more exciting things and we headed back into the park to explore.
After the park we headed back for lunch and then checked out Miniature World. I didn’t get a picture of our lunch but I wanted to give a quick shout out to the place we went to because the food was fabulous and had a dedicated fryer for gluten-free people and that is really hard to find. We ate at The Fish Store and the food was delicious! I highly recommend going there even if you aren’t gluten-free!
Miniature World was somewhere that we were a little bit hesitant to go because it was kind of expensive and we weren’t sure if it would be worth it. We had a great time though and the kids loved looking at all of the little people and pushing all of the buttons to make things move. The one caveat I have about the place is that I had to explain a lot of historical events to my small children and that was kid of difficult to keep it appropriate. Our daughter is a pretty good reader and there were some very accurate descriptions of what was taking place in the scenes that I had to fudge explanations a bit for. It would probably be better to take older kids in the 7-10 range versus my 3 and 5 year old but we had a great time!
There were tons of displays at Miniature World depicting different historical periods, storybook scenes and imaginary places. Our son loved the cars and anything that moved and our daughter liked the fairies and the trains. There was a little bit for everyone and although it was a little bit on the expensive side it was worth going to for us. I probably wouldn’t go there every year but maybe every other since the kids would get more out of it as they got older.
I could tell that someone that created the displays at Miniature World had a sense of humor because there were a few cheeky captions for some of the displays. This one about grandma and grandpa was pretty far up and too tall for little kids to see which was probably deliberate. I wonder how many of these we missed but it was great to see them spread out. I am not a huge history person so looking at battles was not really my thing but I did love looking at the miniatures. They were very detailed and the quality was excellent.
Our daughter loves going to the beach so the last day we went back to Beacon Hill park and checked out Spiral Beach. There were tons of tide pools for us to explore and we got in a very long walk. We loved looking across the water at America and it was fun for the kids when we pulled up the map and showed them where we were and where in America we were looking at. It was great perspective for them to see where we were in relation to places they know. I think next year if we go back to Victoria I might plan a trip to the Washington Peninsula and find somewhere in America across the water from Victoria and show them what it looks like from the other side. It would be fun and an important lesson in Geography.
The tide pools at Spiral Beach were some of the best ones we have visited. Haystack rock in Cannon Beach is pretty close but we saw lots of animals at Spiral Beach and they were pretty close to the surface and we didn’t have to go very far to see them. Our kids love looking for crabs and snails which we saw many of. We also worked on walking so that we weren’t hurting the animals and talked about where they live and how they hide from us. We spent a lot of time looking at everything and the views were gorgeous!
We walked most of the way down the beach on the upper trail, looked at the tide pools and then walked back up the beach to the famous spiral staircase which I apparently did not get a picture of. Oops! The beach was a rocky beach and we had a great time throwing rocks into the water. Our daughter also loves rocks (we bring them home daily from the playground…) and we spent quite a bit of time looking at them and trying to figure out what kinds they were. I should probably buy her a guide so that she can look them up and see what kinds they are. I am sure she would be an expert before long. Our kids did great on the long walk and I believe it was almost two miles which made our son luckily sleep for most of the car ride home. I am really grateful for that because we got stuck at the border and he was seasick from the ferry ride back but luckily he didn’t get sick in the middle of the crossing. We are now two for two for our son getting sick in the car on the way home from Canada just past the border an I am hoping that it isn’t a constant thing!
One of the surprises we found at Spiral Beach was the gorgeous rose bushes along the upper path. the flowers were beautiful and smelled lovely. I love these flowers and I am always excited when I see them!
Overall we had a fabulous time in Victoria. I would love to go back every June just to see the gardens. Maybe next year we will go to the castle and see what that is about. Our kids will be a little bit older and might be ready for some hikes by then so I will probably have to do some research and see which ones are good for kids up there. We will be avoiding the wax museum for quite a while though, since one of our kids is genuinely terrified of that sort of thing. We saw a wax figure of a football player in San Francisco and it did not go well so I can’t imaging a whole museum of terror would go over very well. I do however want to take my daughter to one of the tea rooms. I think she would love it and it would be great mother-daughter bonding time. We will have to find something for the guys to do that is special for them as well.
Have you been to Victoria, B.C. before? Where did you visit?
If you go:
This past June as soon as school got out we took a weekend trip up to Victoria, B.C. with the younger kids. One of our goals this year is to increase our travel and since Victoria is so close to us we decided to take […]
I really love the idea of small changes over time adding up to huge improvements later on in life. When we first started our journey towards better financial health way back during the 2008 financial crisis we made many small changes that reduced our spending, raised […]
Last April we took a road trip to Walla Walla, Washington for a kid-friendly attempt at doing a bit of Wine Weekend. We have been saying for many years that we would love to go to Walla Walla to pick up wine and this year due to our Declaration of More Family Travel we just went ahead and did it. We left on a Saturday and came back Monday afternoon and it was quite a bit of driving but our kids did pretty well.
Our kids are pretty little still and there is not a whole lot to do in Walla Walla so I did a bunch of research and came up with a few frugal family friendly activities as well as made sure to book a hotel with a pool. We had such a great time swimming in the hotel pool (which we had all to ourselves by the way) that booking a hotel with a pool is now a requirement on family vacations. It was really easy to just pop down to the pool for a quick 30 min swim after dinner before heading back to our room for movie night and the swimming tired the kids out enough that they slept very well in strange beds. I highly recommend it!
Our main activity for Sunday morning was hiking the loop around the McNary Wildlife Refuge. The loop is about 2 miles long and includes a bird blind, many interpretive signs and several benches to rest on. There is an environmental education center at the refuge but it was not open when we were there although we did read many of the signs and learn a lot about the wildlife and plants that are in Eastern Washington.
We took a couple of hours to hike the loop around the ponds because we stopped very often to look at the many birds that were there. The kids learned a lot about what birds live in Eastern Washington, what the seasons were and how local farmers were helping feed wildlife in the winter. It was their first time in Eastern Washington so we also talked a lot about how different it was on the other side of the mountains. The little one was probably to small for a lot of this but it is really important to me that my kids appreciate nature from an early age. My parents took us out on hikes and to different areas of Washington when we were kids and I still remember a lot of what they taught us. I am also a firm believer in giving kids full, more “grown up” explanations to any questions kids ask about their world around them whenever possible. We rarely tell our kids they are too young to understand something and I am always surprised at how much they remember months or even years later.
For lunch we went to a BBQ place that Mr. Oscoey wanted to try called Porter’s Real BBQ. The food was really good! We were all hungry from our hike and the kids took a nap when we got back to the hotel. I am strictly gluten-free and was a little bit worried about finding places to eat since it is such a small town but we had pretty good luck. We also went to Red Robin for dinner the evening before and our hotel had free breakfast which included many gluten-free choices (even muffins!) so my worries were pretty unfounded and there was plenty to eat.
We had a swimming lesson that Monday night we had to get back for so on Monday morning we went for a quick early swim and headed back towards Seattle. I wanted to stop at the Ginko Petrified Forest in Vantage on the way back and do a little bit of hiking. Unfortunately the weather was super cold and windy and everyone was tired so we walked around the visitor center a little bit and headed back.
The kids were mildly impressed with the many petrified logs lying around and we tried reading the signs so they would learn at least a little bit but everyone was tired and just wanted to get back in the car since it was so cold. I definitely want to go back when it is warmer out and the visitor center is open. Since Vantage is so close to Seattle it would be an easy day trip to head back out there again and do some hiking. There are some fairly level hikes in the area that I think the kids could do at least part of and next time we head out we will try one.
One of the coolest things about our stop was looking at the Petroglyphs that were all around the visitor center. The kids really liked looking at them and we talked about how they got there and how old they were. Before we head back there we should probably check out some books on petroglyphs from the library or maybe do some online research. I love the idea of learning as much as you can about local history and visiting the places in person makes it so much more real for kids.
We had a great time on our trip to Walla Walla! We definitely need to head back to Eastern Washington again sometime to visit when the season is a little bit different. It might be cool to visit four times a year and create a nature journal or something like that where the kids do drawings and write about what they see. We could then compare it to previous visits and notice how things change with the seasons but I am getting a little bit ahead of myself since only one of them is able to write a little.
What local places have you visited with your family?
I don’t have any affiliations with any of the places listed below, they are just where we ended up visiting and had a great time.
In case you go:
Mr. Oscoey and I have always loved San Francisco. We went there once many years ago by ourselves for a whirlwind 18 hour trip and had always wanted to go back but never found the time or money. Last fall (while I was laid off […]
Travelling has always been something that we have wanted to do as a family but we have never actually done much of. Before we had the youngest we took 2-4 small trips a year spread between Oregon, the Washington Coast and Vancouver, BC for a […]
It has been a while since I have done a gardening update so I though I would take a few pictures and talk a little bit about them. Our family has been super busy with travel, kids, work and the frequent birthday parties that happen this time of year so not much gardening has been going on. I have made an effort to do some weeding and mulch some areas of the garden but time is limited and the garden is still rough around more than a few edges.
Our Peonies came up beautifully this year. They seem to be recovering from their accidental stomping the first spring we lived in our house. We bought our house in the fall and a large number of dormant plants popped up during our first spring that we had no idea were there. This particular plant was stepped on as it first started emerging while we were digging our asparagus beds. Last year it had one blossom and this year there are several which are very beautiful! We have two Peony plants and honestly even the second year one of them was so damaged I didn’t really see it until much later in the season. Strangely one only one of our Peonies is blooming and almost done. The other has several blooms ready to pop, and even the bees are trying to get inside but they have not opened yet and it has been a couple of weeks. It is pretty interesting how these plants are probably about 20 feet away from each other but they each have their own micro climate and are blooming at different times.
Our strawberries are coming along nicely. We planted one of these Alpine Strawberries we inherited from the neighbors a couple of years ago and now we have several plants along with many, many June bearing plants that have all taken over one area of our garden. These tiny tart strawberries were our son’s favorite last year and the only fresh fruit he would eat. So far this year he has not been as interested but hopefully he will come around eventually!
Our gigantic bush that shades our front door is blooming beautifully this year. In the afternoons it is buzzing with the hum of dozens of bees.
I finally got around to planting annuals in our gigantic pot. It is really heavy and under the cover of the roof so every year I plant annuals in it since watering can be tricky. I also filled most of the pot up with Plastic milk bottles before I added soil to cut down on the soil used and to keep the pot from getting too heavy.
We did official fairy gardens this year for both kids. My daughter had only a couple of hens and chicks left in her pot and some of her fairies were broken so we added a couple more to her pot, some more hens and chicks (a girl after my own heart) and some annuals. I like to do annuals in the kids’ fairy gardens because they love choosing plants every year. Since we use smallish pots there isn’t a lot of room but it is nice for the kids to have a little piece of their own gardens.
My son got to make his own fairy garden this year. He was too young the first year and last year we never got around to it so he was very excited. He picked out mostly pink and red flowers and they look really good. He also picked the red gnome because he looked like Santa Clause which was really cute.
I bought some vegetables for the kids to plant as well. They picked out some squash, snow peas and cantaloupe which is tricky to grow in the PNW. I fully intended to plant them immediately but when I got home I discovered that my garden beds are missing quite a bit of dirt and are at best half way full. I am going to get more soil this weekend so I can get these in the ground before I forget.
I should probably show you a few of my weeds that popped up despite the mulch I laid down. Next fall my goal is to lay down cardboard and mulch and try to keep the weeds in check for next year.
Most of the gardening I have gotten to has been in the front yard. This picture is of my side yard…there is supposed to be a path through there but clearly it is super tiny and mostly non-existent. This area was way over planted by the previous owners and is prone to weeds, despite mulching and regular weeding. I have taken out about half the plants but everything that is there overcrowds. At some point I will probably take out everything on the right hand side but I am hesitant since a lot of those plants bloom later in the year and they feed our resident hummingbirds and healthy bee population.
Despite my lack of time to garden ours is flourishing. How is your garden going this year?
A few months back I wrote my first post after going back to work (A not so Brief Hiatus) about the gap in blogging while I went back to work. I didn’t blog for eight months last time which was almost the entire length of […]