Saturday, June 22, 2013

Goodtime III - Cleveland, Ohio

On May 31, we went for a cruise on the Goodtime III in Cleveland, Ohio.  It's a huge tour/party boat that travels on the Cuyahoga River and in Lake Erie.  It was an ideal field trip for my two little boys, with lots of bridges, boats, buildings, lighthouses, trucks, trains, etc. to see, and the captain informed us about all of the interesting and historical things we saw as we were passing them.  The weather was absolutely perfect and it was a lovely morning altogether.

When we first arrived, we were a little early (YES you read that right - early!  Us!) so we explored the pier a bit.  The boys were fascinated by the huge chains.

Looking back from the end of the pier.

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Stan Hywet Hall - Akron, Ohio

Another fun thing we did back in May was a field trip to one of Akron's great local history spots - Stan Hywet Hall.  It was the home of the family of F.A. Seiberling, founder of Goodyear Tire and Rubber, and was built between 1912-1915.  The name Stan Hywet is Old English for "stone quarry", so it's named for the natural quarry located on the property.  The 64,500 square foot house was modeled after English country estates and is a fascinating place.  There are 65 rooms total, including 18 bedrooms, 23 bathrooms, a great room, a ballroom, an indoor pool, a billiard room, a solarium, a floral arranging room, a library, and I'm sure there are more that I'm forgetting.  Every nook and cranny of each room is painstakingly decorated with fine architectural details from floor to ceiling: mouldings, stained glass, iron work, tile work; you could visit every day for a year and notice something new each time.  The Seiberlings had six children, and it's fun to imagine being a child in a house so large and grand - oh, the hide and seek possibilties!  The house had many of the very newest techological conveniences, including telephones and a central vacuuming system.  Many famous people visited Stan Hywet, including Helen Keller, Will Rogers, William Howard Taft, Thomas Edison, and The Von Trapp Family Singers (the family whose story inspired The Sound of Music).

And then there are the gardens.  There are 70 acres of gardens to wander and explore, which were laid out by landscape architect Warren Manning, who had apprenticed under Frederic Law Olmsted, the designer of New York City's Central Park.  Photography is not permitted inside the house, so if you want to get a peek you'll have to go there.  If you aren't nearby and that's not an option, I recommend Stan Hywet Hall and Gardens by Steve Love, Ian Adams, and Barney Taxel.

Approaching the house, coming up the long driveway
Main Entryway

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Portage Lakes State Park

One day back in early May, we decided to explore Portage Lakes State Park.  I had been there years ago, back in my younger days, but I was not very familiar with the park and I had never taken the kids there - which is odd because it's so close to us.

On the way into the park, we spotted three deer right beside the road.  Can you spot the one in this pic?

We stayed parked in the middle of the road for a good 10 minutes watching them.  One slowly walked across the street in front of us, totally unconcerned by our presence.  The other two eventually sauntered off into the woods.

 First, we decided to hike the Planet Walk Trail.  The Astronomy Club of Akron has a small observatory at the park where they have occasional programs for the public - which (sadly and surprisingly) I've never attended although I did join the ACA and went to their monthly meetings for a couple of years with my stepdad, around when we built our telescope about a decade ago.  The Planet Walk Trail starts at the observatory and meanders off through the woods.  There are signs posted along the trail, marking the relative location of the planets at the scale of one mile.  This seemed like a pretty cool idea, although the trail is not as clearly marked as I would have liked - we got off course twice and we never did find Neptune at all.  The trail just dead ended at a residential street and there was no indication of which way the trail may have continued on, or if it did at all, so we turned back.


You can see the signs for Mercury, Venus, Earth, Mars, and the Asteroid belt in this photo.

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Real-Life Word Problems

Monkey is still pretty resistant to any kind of formal math lessons.  If you just give him a straightforward math equation he has to really think about it, or else he just guesses.  Instead, I give him random word problems related to whatever we are doing throughout the day and it becomes a fun game for him.  I am constantly amazed by how quickly and effortlessly he fires back the answer.  He can answer things like "How much change will we get if this costs $12 and I give the cashier a $20 bill?" or "You have $7.00 but you need to have $13.00 to buy that.  How much more do you need to save?"

Another real life example from a couple days ago:

Me:  Okay, we are supposed to be there in 5 minutes.  But it takes 20 minutes to get there.  How late are we going to be?
Monkey (enthusiastically):  Oh!  15 minutes late!

Not only did he *know* the correct answer to 20 - 5, he first calculated the relationship between those numbers to form the correct equation in his mind in order to get the right answer, which is a higher order of thinking.

(BTW, I swear I really am working on trying to set a better example in the punctuality department...)