Family Hikes Roundup

We try and go hiking at least a few times a month and in the summer I can usually get four hikes in a month- nothing beats a hike in our lush PNW forests. However, don’t think that I’m some magical wood nymph with little forest nymph children who frolic effortlessly over hill and dale. Our road to hiking as a family was won with lots of training, patience, and strategic bribery (and I’m not just talking about the kids, haha!).

I was tired of always sitting at the same playgrounds with C and A when they were little and quite frankly, I was bored of the monotony. But, C and A were 3 and 1 at the time, and I knew no matter how buff I got, I just wasn’t going to be able to wear two backpacks full of toddlers, so I had to figure out how to get at least one of them walking for an extended period of time. So, how to get toddlers interested in hiking…

Enter geocaching! I’d like to brag a bit here- it turns out that if you rename geocaching to “treasure hunting” toddlers get quite interested (woohoo!), well at least the 3 year old does- the 1 year old was pretty content with being bribed with crackers. The geocaching app can’t be easier to figure out, and if you pick a kid oriented cache or two out ahead of time, you’re golden! Make sure you got good walking shoes and plenty of snacks (and maybe a few dollar store toys to swap in the cache) and enjoy the outdoors with your children.

Once our bigs got older bribery wasn’t really needed. They don’t mind hiking, and even bring things along with them such as slingshots and notebooks should a perfect rock appear or a opportunity for sketching present itself. Occasionally we do still geocache, which is quite fun for us in a different way now that the bigger kids can help look more effectively.

I thought I’d share some of our favorite kid friendly hikes that we have taken in hopes that you can feel inspired to get out hiking with your kids if you happen to be in Washington. All of these hikes are do able for older toddlers and for a parent packing a baby or spare toddler or an excessive amount of snacks. However, we still do all these hikes and my big kids love them! I highly recommend the app All Trails for directions and pictures.

Maple Valley Gnome Trail – a MUST DO with kids. My two year old can easily spend an hour walking this trail- it’s that fun!

Cedar Butte Trail

Flaming Geyser River Trail– while the geyser isn’t particularly exciting, this state park is a great destination for an afternoon.

Lake Fenwick– this is a bit of a challenge simply because of the stairs, but kiddos can do it! It’s great counting practice too, haha!

Wildside Trail

Cougar Mountain Indian Trail

Coal Creek Trail– look for the coal pieces in the creek on this historical trail!

Saltwater State Park– book some extra time to spend at the beach!

Franklin Ghost Town Trail– don’t be spooked! This hike has a lovely waterfall, but I recommend it in the summer as it can get washed out in places.

Iverson Railroad Trail and Westside Road– keep an eye out, and you’ll see Mt. Rainier in all her glory on a clear day!

West Hylebos Wetlands Trail- this is not only a lovely walk, it has a historical cabin right at the parking lot- so neat!

Echo Peak Loop Trail– this is one of our favorites and a hidden gem. The views on a clear day are killer!

Franklin Falls – short but well worth hanging around the falls for a couple of hours. Pack a picnic!

Dash Point Trail

Shangrila, Anti- Aircraft Ridge Loop – sounds weird, but it’s a great loop with even better views.

Myrtle Falls via Skyline Trail– this is on Mt. Rainier, so you could easily spend a day puttering around Paradise.

Nisqually Vista Trail– also on Mt. Rainier

Silver Falls Trail – lovely views on Mt Rainier- usually this is great done in tandem with the Grove of the Patriarchs hike, but alas, the Grove of the Patriarchs in closed until further notice. If they open back up, GO!

Well folks, that’s a few of our most favorite kid friendly hikes! I hope your able to try some or let me know if you have any other good suggestions, we love to explore! Cheers!


During my own homeschool years my mom always held what she called “Recitation” at the end of each school week. We have carried on this tradition and I find it an incredibly valuable homeschooling tool. So, what exactly is it? According to the Merriam Webster Dictionary the this is what Recitation means:

rec·​i·​ta·​tion // ˌre-sə-ˈtā-shən

Definition of recitation

1: the act of enumerating a recitation of relevant details.

2: the act or an instance of reading or repeating aloud especially publicly.

3a: a student’s oral reply to questions b: a class period especially in association with and for review of a lecture.

And according to the Oxford Dictionary it means this;

1: an act of saying a piece of poetry or literature that you have learned to an audience.

I like both of these definitions because that’s exactly what Recitation means for us. The kids have an opportunity to demonstrate what they have learned in a way that doesn’t just boil down to grades on a sheet of paper. Letter grades can be a very limiting tool to gauge a students knowledge, particularly in the elementary school ages. Demonstrations, narrations, and memory work provide the kids (and me!) evidence of learning and skills mastered. So you’re not sure if you kiddo is learning history? Have them tell back to you what they know! Write it down and then let them read it at Recitation.

Our Recitation is every Friday night and the kids and I recently discovered something about each other- it’s our favorite day of the week! After collecting science projects, math tests, art work, history maps and projects all week, each child gets their stack to show Husband. They start with the poem they are working on memorizing, then usually they show him their math tests (if they have one that week) and talk about what was hard or what was easy. Then comes the science demonstrations where lab reports get read aloud and crafts or projects are shown to Husband. For example, sometimes the project is just weather data, and sometimes it a big project that’s been worked on all week like a diorama.

All Azelie’s science reports collected here for the year
Azelie’s science project demonstration the ocean zones. She flooded it with water at Recitation to show dad and make it “more realistic mom” 😉

Even Pickle has caught on and loves to show all her “glue” projects to Husband. Even if it’s the third time he’s seen them that week, haha! Lastly the kids usually read aloud their books reports for whatever reading they have been assigned or from books Husband and I are reading aloud. Occasionally, the bigs will also play a piano piece for Husband. Whomever is not giving their recitation is encouraged to be a good audience member and listen respectfully, although sometimes we get great conversations going about a school topic, which provides even more learning!

C and A are running for officer positions in 4H and have to make speeches so they will practice those all week and give them at Recitation in order to be all set for Monday

I highly encourage making Recitation a big deal even if you choose to only show case poetry. We commit to it each week, no matter what, even if we need to shift it to Saturday. This gives everyone some accountability for all of us and a sense of pride in our work. After Recitation we celebrate by having brownies and ice cream and watching a movie as a family- it’s just the best!

Our School is Everywhere

I bit the bullet and we spent a day in Seattle adventuring as a family. Understandably, Seattle can be a stressful place to visit these days due to restrictions and the general expensiveness, but I decided to not let my stress and apprehensiveness hold us back. So, after lots of prep and lots of planning, we headed out to the Museum Of History And Industry (MOHAI) and the Museum of Flight this past weekend. It’s tricky managing all the moving parts that it takes to get five people out the door, let alone making sure the animals and house are all set, but I was determined to make a day of it.

Head to Seattle early to get good parking and beat the coffee lines! Hint: Sunday = lots more free parking and less crowds than Saturday.

The MOHAI had been on my list for field trips this year because they are hosting the DaVinci exhibit (you can check out the details here). The goal was that this exhibit would enrich C’s science this year which is all about physics. It did not disappoint! In addition to the DaVinci exhibit, their history of Seattle compilation complemented the early modern time period we are studying which was a huge plus! The WW1 and WW2 displays were fantastic. We lucked out with the weather as it was a beautiful, clear day so we were able to walk around park and sit at the water eating our packed lunches. It was gorgeous! We definitely took advantage of the morning and spent 3 hours at the museum, waterfront, and walking a bit of Seattle.

Armed with note taking supplies, the Bigs are ready!
Pausing to take some notes
Chief Seattle and his family converted to Catholicism. This is his daughter’s rosary.
The kids thought this was pretty nifty!
Beautiful day
An 800 year old tree!
It’s been a long time since I’ve walked around Seattle, it was nice to be back.

After the MOHAI we packed up and headed to the Museum of Flight. We had been hanging onto some free passes I was given a year or two ago and decided to use them while we had valid negative Covid tests that we needed to get into places in Seattle, otherwise I would not have tried to do two museums in one day. The Bigs handled two museums just fine, but it took a big toll on Pickle who was a champ during our long day. As a consequence we didn’t spend more than an hour and a half at the Museum of Flight but it was still such a treat to go and see all the aircraft. Caidoc especially loves this museum.

We had the best time on our Museum Day and I am so grateful for the resources that surround us. Adventures like these really make me love homeschooling even more. Even if it seems intimidating, get out there friends! You’ve got this.


A Winter of Peace

The excitement of Christmas and the New Year is dwindling, but it left us with such grateful hearts. I was more than ready to get back to school after our longer than planned break due to getting sick. Something about those long breaks is just the opposite of peaceful- the kiddos get cantankerous let me tell ya!

Wooden gingerbread houses we made this year

I am trying to make our mornings more peaceful by starting school slowly in front of the fire all snuggled up. After our morning checklists which are some simple to-do’s for the Bigs, and my usual toddler care and breakfast prep, we start with the audio gospel from our trusty morning basket. That way I have time to run around doing a few quick chores such as baking bread or cleaning up breakfast, and usually squeezing in my spiritual reading and morning tea. See how it doesn’t seem all that peaceful? I’m working on slowing down, as my body is not appreciating it and I’m sure the kids don’t either.

My bestest bookends

Starting a fire in the morning has been incorporated for a few reasons; 1. I’m using it as a way to beat the winter blues, 2. C and A are learning how to build and start fires on their own, 3. C is learning how to chop wood, 4. The ash is beneficial for the chickens and the garden. It’s really nice to have C and A be old enough to take on more homesteading chores. C is just loving chopping wood for kindling daily! I was quite proud of them for helping me haul and stack 2 cords of wood. It was so fun and rewarding. These snuggly fires have been a game changer for all of us, we are all loving the routine and warmth.

C chopping kindling and A ready to stack

Part of making schooling more peaceful for us means making time for the fun stuff! The daily math, science, and language arts is so crucial to development, but so are our relationships and mental health. A great way for us to bond, relax, AND learn is by doing what I call “the fun stuff”; crafts, projects, child led discussions, etc.

Some of “the fun stuff” – A made this model of a WW1 trench all by herself

I am getting better at not sweating it when a concept is proving difficult for a child to grasp or when it seems like no one is remembering anything, but I have a long way to go. The pressure of homeschooling is very real. I am the bottom line for their education and while that is a great privilege, it also means I am responsible for preparing them for life. This is absolutely the most incredible, most worthwhile, yet hardest job on the planet. Usually, the best solution to a challenging school day for us is to walk it off. Literally. I will just announce that we are going for a walk and we hop on bikes or scooters and go. Sometimes it’s met with consternation but our daily walk (or bike ride or scooter ride) has become such a part of our routine that it’s usually a welcome respite that the kids will ask for to clear their heads.

New roller blades

Don’t I live a wonderful life? I am so grateful. Looking back at these pictures always reminds me of that. The days might not always be peaceful but they precious and man, they are going so fast. Maybe the biggest key to a peaceful day is that- remembering. Remembering that I only get to borrow these amazing and unique souls for such a little while. Remembering that I am so thankful for every snuggly, hectic, moment no matter what we are learning. I’ll bet if I can remember that, our minds and hearts will be just as peaceful as they come.

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