It’s Remembrance Day here in Canada (and in other countries that were former territories of the British Empire), and red poppies are everywhere. This symbol of soldiers’ sacrifice comes from the following poem written in 1915 by the Canadian physician Lieutenant-Colonel John McCrae.
In Flanders fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses, row on row,
That mark our place; and in the sky
The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.
We are the Dead. Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved and were loved, and now we lie
In Flanders fields.
Take up our quarrel with the foe:
To you from failing hands we throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high.
If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
In Flanders fields.
This past week in homeschool we have been reading two excellent books about soldiers’ experiences in war: the picture book In Flanders Fields by Norman Jorgensen, illustrated by Brian Harrison-Lever and the collection of poetry War and the Pity of War, edited by Neil Philip and illustrated by Michael McCurdy. After reading aloud and discussing several poems from the latter, the Younger Fives were inspired to write one of their own.
“The Grand Fire” by Five Ball
Fire roars through the forest.
Destroying everything in its path.
Animals try to run but are burnd in the clatter.
It comes across a village and decided to pillage.
And destroys that too.
That is the grand fire.
“Broken Movie” by Five of Hearts
In a tent, sheltered from the worst.
A pilot’s wheeled in, horribly hurt.
A picture of flying and being hurt goes across my mind
Like a broken movie that won’t stop.
A soldier’s wheeled in badly injured.
A picture of running and getting hurt goes across my mind
Like a broken movie that won’t stop.
More movies come and won’t stop
And I didn’t pay to see them.
No doubt about it, Seattle is a fantastic place for families at Halloween. The 74-acre, pedestrian-friendly Seattle Center (built for the 1962 World’s Fair) is a flurry of free Halloween activities, all steps away from one another. Providing 9 hours of back-to-back activities and crafts, Seattle Center definitely gave us a run for our money this Halloween.
In the week leading up to Halloween, Five Spice was hard at work painting skeleton costumes (that glow in the dark!) and experimenting with different all-natural face paint recipes. When the big day arrived, each Five had their homemade skeleton outfit (expect High Five’s sweatshirt, found at a second-hand store), ready to customize. Five of Hearts and Five Ball also wanted their faces painted, and the recipe (above) is almost safe enough to eat! To get the black paint, Five Spice mixed some activated charcoal powder into a separate batch.
The city’s annual Dia de los Muertos celebration spans two days and is filled with crafts, exhibits, and live performances. We left Mexico last year before the holiday, so this was a better-late-than-never chance to learn more about the traditions. There were live performances every hour, and when we needed a break from sitting there were several activity stations (decorate a sugar skeleton, print making, etc.). This is definitely one of the most impressive all-volunteer, free events we’ve ever seen, and it really is a wonderful service to the community.
Just outside of the Armory is the Experience Music Project’s playground, also completely open to the public. The structures were not for the faint of heart, but the Younger Fives thoroughly enjoyed climbing and sliding in the shadow of the Space Needle (and the light rain only made the slides even faster!).
We ended our long, action-packed day back in the Armory, this time at the Children’s Museum Halloween Open House. Another wonderful free, volunteer-led activity, the Open House was full of Halloween-themed games, plenty of treats, and a chance to explore the Museum’s regular exhibits. By the time the kids made shields, built structures out of foam building blocks, and tried their hand at pumpkin mini golf, they were finally ready to head back to our rental. Even with the Halloween treats, all the fun made for a sound night’s sleep :)
For our family the Halloween spirit usually takes a year off between visits. Last year our time in Rome was low key, fun but with little time or forethought put into costumes or an aura of spookiness. This year, however, we’ve vowed to pull out all the stops and have no regrets come November 1st.
En route to a Halloween in Seattle, we came across the Portland Corn Maize, a perfect Halloween warm-up activity (and conveniently located halfway between our former rental in Oakridge, Oregon and Seattle). This was the Younger Fives’ first time in a corn maze; a different Maize was right down the road from where we used to live in Western Maine, but we had never actually made the trip. Outfitted with our rain gear and rubber boots, we were ready for an a-“stound”-ing (trying hard not to make the obvious “maze” pun) adventure.
The maze entrance had plenty to get the kids excited for their journey. Each Five chose a trivia clue card (with different themes ranging from Halloween to Movies) that gives hints (but by no means spoilers) about which way to go at various numbered locations inside the maze (assuming you can figure out the correct answer). We were also advised to be on the lookout for Cornundrums, visual puzzles along the way. Glad to have our boots on, we set forth into the unknown.
The first half of the maize went pretty smoothly. We took a few wrong turns, but many of the paths looped back around so we ended up where we need to be in the end. We still had plenty of energy left when we reached the halfway point, a convenient exit that lets you take a break if needed then resume right where you left off.
The second half was definitely more challenging than the first but struck a good balance between making you work to find the right path without getting too frustrated. We definitely commented, “I think I’ve seen that ear of corn before!” several times on this section of the maze, and we had to really retrace our steps and engage in some spirited conversation to figure out what we were missing. Eventually we found the right path, and from there it was smoothly splashing the rest of the way. Our 4-year-old was just starting to lose his enthusiasm at this point, so it worked out perfectly. By the time we reached the exit, we felt like we had really accomplished something and, even better, we had gotten our fill of fall fun for the day :)
Having a few days to explore the Oregon coast with Nana Five, we were looking for a place with great tide pools, beaches, and temperate rain forest trails to explore. We found all this and more at Cape Perpetua National Scenic Area in the Siuslaw National Forest. From anemones and sea stars to krumholtz trees and Sitka spruce, Cape Perpetua really has it all. Factor in an awesome visitor’s center with super-friendly and enthusiastic rangers (they took more time reviewing the Younger Fives’ Junior Ranger booklets than anywhere else we’ve been), and you have all the ingredients for a memorable coastal visit!