Nashville 2021

Nashville 2021 (affiliate link)

I built my layout around a single photo: my feet on the sidewalk map of Tennessee. With Nashville already printed on it, it worked really well as a title block. After I added eight photos around that center photo (doing my best to show the variety of things we experienced), I embellished with the large guitar sticker, the small Tennessee sticker, and the year. The tab at the top right shows the dates and the strip along the bottom holds all of my journaling. It's a really simple page, but at a glance it takes me right back to our vacation. That's a win for sure.  


Cards for the COVID Eagle Scouts

I mentioned yesterday that Trevor, and much of the rest of his Scout troop, came home from summer camp with COVID. Obviously, there's nothing good about a group of teenage boys and their leaders getting sick, even if symptoms are mild. But like all things COVID, their positive tests affected more people than just them and their families. I'm talking specifically about the COVID Eagles. 

When a Scout reaches the rank of Eagle, his (or now, her) family starts planning an Eagle Court of Honor where the Scout is formally recognized and awarded their Eagle regalia. It's a big deal. (Trevor's will be in September.) For those who reached Eagle just before the pandemic, their already-scheduled Courts of Honor were postponed. And then postponed again... until they starting talking about not holding one. The Scouts in our troop who Eagled during the early part of the pandemic didn't even bother scheduling their Courts of Honor. They could have held a virtual or drive-by ceremony, but without exception, they decided not to hold one at all.  

Our troop wanted to give our six COVID Eagles, all of whom have aged out of the troop, the Court of Honor they deserved. Planning began for a ceremony began. It would take place four days after summer camp. And then, once again, COVID interfered. We rescheduled and now they have finally received the ceremony they've long deserved.    

These are three of the cards I made for them. The other three are duplicates of these. 

Congratulations to all Eagle Scouts and particularly those who didn't let a pandemic stop them from achieving their goals. You are amazing and I'm so glad we could honor you. 


Metalwork Merit Badge and Six Thumbs Up for 'Forged in Fire'

Trevor spent a week at Scout summer camp right after our Washington/Alaska trip and came home with four merit badges, lots of great memories, and COVID. In fact, the same is true for most of the troop. Most of the boys came home with multiple merit badges, stories of all the fun they had, and positive COVID tests. Fortunately, most of them (including Trevor) had very mild symptoms. We hadn't planned on having to quarantine after summer camp, but life is nothing if not unpredictable. 

Something else Trevor brought home from camp? This fire poker. He made it as part of the Metalwork merit badge

Requirement 5d Part 4 asks Scouts to use low-carbon steel at least 1/4-inch thick to hot forge two objects. They must have a decorative twist and a hammer-riveted joint, and be preserved from oxidation. Trevor and a friend worked together to make two different fire pokers to meet the requirement. 

Trevor loved making his fire poker and is interested doing blacksmith work again. During cooler weather, that is. He is not interested in summertime forging. 

Trevor signed up for the Metalwork merit badge back in the spring, which is around the same time we started watching Forged in Fire. If you've never seen it, I definitely recommend checking it out. All three deRosiers give it two thumbs up (for a total of 6/6 thumbs). Each episode has four bladesmiths who compete in three rounds. In the first round, they have three hours to forge a blade that meets certain parameters. One person is eliminated, then the remaining three have two hours to refine their blades and add handles. The judges put the three knives through grueling challenges to test their strength, sharpness, and durability. One more contestant is eliminated, then the final challenge is revealed. The final two have four days at their home forges to recreate a historical weapon. 

I've learned a lot about forging through the episodes we've watched and by hearing about Trevor's experience. I think it would be fun to try. Not in the summer, of course. 


Eagle Scout!

The day before we boarded our Amtrak train to Seattle, something really exciting happened. On June 21, 2022, during his 10th year of Scouting, Trevor officially reached the rank of Eagle. 

Trevor completed his Eagle project in April, but he still had plenty to do after that to become an Eagle Scout. He had three Eagle-required merit badges to finish up (Personal ManagementCommunication, and Emergency Preparedness), a bunch of paperwork to do, a binder to put together, and 5 reference letters to gather. Then came the Eagle Board of Review. On that Tuesday night in June, exactly two weeks after his 16th birthday, Trevor stood before a panel of four Scout leaders for 45 minutes, answering questions about his Scouting experience and his path toward Eagle. 

Steve and I nervously waited outside during Trevor's Board of Review. We were confident that he would pass, but it was torture to sit there for so long, wondering how it was going. Fortunately, he did pass and received many nice compliments from the members of his Board. We posed for photos, which you can see in this layout. 

Eagle Scout (affiliate link)

The photo at the top right shows Trevor with his Scoutmaster, Mr. Teresi. The middle picture is Steve and me with Trevor, and the bottom picture has Trevor with the members of the Board: Mr. Gribi, Mr. Jensen, Mr. Baird, and Mr. Patchen. 

I love how this layout turned out, crisp and clean. It's the perfect page to document such a great achievement. I'm so proud of Trevor and look forward to his upcoming Court of Honor in September, where he will be presented with his Eagle regalia and will honor those mentors who helped him the most along his path to Eagle. It's going to be awesome. 


Sock Lion

Meet Sock Lion. He joined our family in June 2007 for Trevor's first birthday. 

Sock Lion was a gift from my MOMS Club Secret Pal. Trevor LOVED Sock Lion. 

He loved Sock Lion so much that I took the advice of a fellow mom and bought a duplicate so that in case anything ever happened to Sock Lion, I could pull out a twin. 

Nothing bad ever happened to Sock Lion, so I was able to give his untouched twin away. I could never give Sock Lion away though. He'll be in our family forever. 

You may wonder why I bring up Sock Lion now. It's because I recently made a colored pencil portrait of him. 

The latest contest at Colored Pencil Magazine (affiliate link) is to use "colored pencils to create a new image of a non-domesticated feline." I am not particularly interested in drawing a random tiger, leopard, or lion, as that's a lot of time to spend on something that doesn't have meaning to me. Not to mention, coloring a realistic wild cat sounds ridiculously difficult for a beginner for me. The perfect compromise? Drawing Sock Lion. 

I'm not sure how the judges will feel about my creative interpretation of the rules, but I don't really care. I don't expect to win anyway. Maybe I'll be pleasantly surprised, like last time. Or maybe not. Either way, I learned a lot while doing this drawing. The #1 thing I learned is that I hate doing backgrounds. I need to come up with a better way to fill a large amount of space. I also learned not to sketch with a regular pencil. Instead, I need to use a light color that I can effectively color over. Finally, I learned that I need a good brush for getting rid of pencil crumbs; blowing them away, or using my hand to wipe them away, don't work well. 

This project was a lot of fun and I look forward to the next challenge!


Family Fun in Tacoma, Washington

Because I blog about educational travel, some places we visited in Tacoma gave me complimentary admission tickets, media rates, and similar benefits. We paid full price for everything else. How much we paid has no bearing on my reviews, as I only share what I honestly recommend.


Family Fun in Tacoma, Washington

On Sunday, July 3, we said goodbye to our family and disembarked from our Alaska cruise in Seattle. The three of us took a Lyft to Tacoma, about 40 miles south. We'd been wanting to explore Tacoma for years and we had big plans to pack as much into our 24 hours in town as possible.  

We started at our hotel, the Courtyard Tacoma Downtown. We were about 6 hours early for check-in, but they were happy to hold our luggage. The Courtyard was in the perfect location, an easy walk from everything we wanted to visit. 

We'd arrived about an hour before any of the museums opened, due partially to the fact that there was NO traffic on that Sunday morning. We stood on this pedestrian bridge for 5 minutes and saw 7 cars. 

Despite the fact that nothing was open, there was plenty of see. Tacoma has a good amount of outdoor public art. 


At 10:00 am, we were the first through the door at the Museum of Glass

One word: WOW. 


I love this piece showing someone playing marbles. My hand is there for scale - the details are amazing and everything is so tiny!

Glass clothing and a glass chair. The creativity blew my mind. 


Speaking of creativity, I absolutely LOVED the Kids Design Glass exhibit. Each of these sculptures was inspired by a child's drawing. That child got to watch as the artists brought their vision to life. Twice! One went home with the child, while the other is on display.  



We loved everything at the Museum of Glass, but we all agreed that the Hot Shop was the best part. Visitors sit in stadium seating, or stand on the catwalk, in order to watch glass artists at work. There are close-ups on the screen. 

We could have sat there all day and watched. 

But we had other things to do see. We reluctantly pulled ourselves away and grabbed a quick lunch next door at The Social Bar and Grill. Delicious! 

Then we went to the Washington State History Museum

The exhibits were very interesting and covered many aspects of Washington's fascinating past. 

However, the flow didn't make sense. While I enjoyed all of the exhibits, it was never clear where to go next. That led to a disjointed experience, with exhibits out of chronological order. It makes me appreciate the skill that goes into designing museum spaces that subtly guide visitors from place to place.  

I love the artwork on this table in the kids' reading nook. 

Our next stop was brief. We popped into Tinkertopia

Part art store and part maker space, it's described as a "creative reuse center." The space is positively packed with thousands of items that spark creativity. 

You can purchase items individually or by bulk. If I'd had luggage space, I would have filled one of the bags for sure. There were countless treasures to be had at bargain prices. 

You can take your purchases to go, or work in their tinkerspace. Working there gives you access to all sorts of tools and other supplies. 

I would have loved to have stayed and played, but we had more places to go. We walked through the University of Washington Tacoma on the way to our next destination....

I was drawn to the Native art...

... and the beautiful glass pieces.

There were so many interesting pieces of art on display. 


We peeked into the hands-on TAM Studio. It was fabulous and I really wanted to sit down and create. But it was almost closing time. I photographed the two daily prompts and intend to make both soon. 

We ended the day at the fabulous Zeek's Pizza. It was so good! (The Ta is for Tacoma. 253 is the area code.)

The next morning, we packed up and got a Lyft to the Washington State Capitol in Olympia, 35 miles to the southwest. Despite the countless trips my family made when I was a kid between home and my grandparents' house in the Seattle area, we never took the 3-mile detour off I-5 to see the Capitol. I was excited to finally visit. 

I'd checked and double-checked that the Capitol would be open. It was July 4th, but the website said the only closures were on Thanksgiving, the day after Thanksgiving, Christmas Day, and New Year's Day. However, because it was a holiday, it opened 3.5 hours later than usual, so we weren't able to go inside. Instead, we walked through the beautiful grounds.   

Bunny! It's always fun spotting a wild cottontail. In case you are wondering how I know this rabbit was wild and not a dumped pet, the head shape is a giveaway. This rabbit's face is pointier and more narrow than Trouble's

I really liked all the banners on the light posts. Each highlighted a different one of Washington's state symbols


From the Capitol, we went to the Olympia-Lacey Amtrak station. We boarded the Coast Starlight at 11:11 am southbound to Davis. You can read about that here.  

We got off the train 20 hours later (7:05 am) in Davis. We walked to a friend's house where we'd left our car, then headed home. 

We had a fantastic time. Every element - the train trip, the days in Seattle and Tacoma, and the cruise - were great and added up to a near-perfect vacation.