Category Archives: Parenting

Parenting research and personal anecdotes.

Work and School from Home: School

The First Week
On Wednesday, March 11, Seattle Public Schools announced they were closing for at least two weeks starting the next day. I had half been expecting schools to close but I thought they would finish the week and then close. I think closing so quickly threw everyone off-guard.

Within about three hours we had an email from Calvin’s teacher. She said all kids were coming home with a packet of what they could work on and gave guidance on how long kids should work on each subject to mirror school time. Wednesday evening I moved the kitchen desk and computer down to the office where I was working and came up with a schedule for Calvin.
Mine and Calvin's desks
I decided it would probably work best if I tried to coordinate Calvin’s schedule with mine. My first attempt was pretty structured.

  • 9:00-10:00 – Math
  • 10:00-10:15 – Walk around the block
  • 10:15-11:15 – Reading
  • 11:15-12:45 – Lunch/Free Time
  • 12:45-1:15 – Longer Walk
  • 1:15-2:00 – Writing
  • 2:00-2:15 – Walk around the block
  • 2:15-3:00 – Science/Social Studies
  • 3:00-3:30 – Art/Music
  • 3:30-4:30 – Free Time
  • 4:30-5:00 – House hold cleanup time
  • 5:00-6:00 – Free Time

Julian’s daycare was still open but Jaeger and I talked and decided since everyone else was home, it probably made sense to keep Julian home also, starting Friday. We sent Julian to daycare on Thursday in order to get Calvin use to the new routine without Julian around.

Wednesday evening I talked to Calvin about the plan and requested to see his school packet. Calvin had no idea what I was talking about. I asked to see everything he brought home and did find several things for him to work on but no math. I emailed his teacher for clarification and she apologized for the confusion and said she and the other teachers had only an hour’s notice on Wednesday to prepare packets for the kids. However, Calvin could practice his math by going to an online site.

Thursday morning dawned and at 9:00 I dragged Calvin down to the office. He was visibly dismayed to discover this wasn’t just going to be time off from school. The first school day at home went ok. Calvin complained a lot about the all the walking but settled down with just a bit of grumbling. Though, he was ready to go back to regular school by the middle of the day.

One bright spot of Thursday was Creative Coding, Calvin’s in-person coding class. They managed one of the best pivots I’ve seen during this crisis. They saw the warning signs and came up with a contingency plan by March 4. Just hours after the school closures were announced, on March 11, they sent out an email saying that class was going to continue online and information on how that would work. On Thursday, they emailed out additional online classes students could sign up for. I immediately signed Calvin up for an additional class. I was tempted to sign up for more but decided 2 a week was probably enough. Plus, I didn’t want to hog all the spaces.

Work was a different story. I have a lot of experience working from home. After Calvin was born I spent 7 years working from home full-time. However, working from home in the middle of a burgeoning crisis, while also supervising a child’s school work, is not a normal work from home situation. It was probably one of my least productive working days. I spent the majority of the time waiting to see what our library was going to do while I contingency planned with other libraries on the best way to configure the integrated library system for a shut-down, or partially shut down, of the library. That evening, a notice was posted that, at end of day Friday, the library would be closing to the public till at least April 13.1.

Friday was hectic. Calvin was still resistant to the new school at home experience and I had a lot of systems work to shut down the library to the public. Jaeger and I did discover some bugs with all of us working from home. For example, I was relatively use to the experience of ignoring screaming around me to focus on work. Jaeger was not use to working with kids in the house and did not appreciate being given the opportunity to learn. After some consultation, I told the children that if they were going to be rambunctious during Calvin’s freetime, they had to stay on the first floor of the house. Overall, the school schedule still seemed to mostly work.

The Second Week
Things started unraveling the next Monday. Calvin moved from grudging acceptance to whining obstruction. I had several failures on Monday. First, I had decided to have Calvin work on art and music on alternate days. Monday was a music day. However, I was working so I couldn’t do any actual music instruction. I decided that I could give him a book about music and call it music appreciation. This didn’t work well. Second, he was suppose to do some sort of “social studies”. Again, my solution was to find a book roughly about the right subject. Third, Calvin truly hated how much I was dragging him out the house for boring walks.

Tuesday’s successes included:

  • Learning I could login to Schoology, the online software Calvin’s school uses, and view what his teacher posted to the class myself. This made it much, much easier to keep track of what Calvin was “suppose” to be working on.
  • Calvin video conferencing with his classmates. This seemed to help a bit with the social isolation. This involved learning real life skills such as keeping your mic on mute unless you were talking.
  • Art. Calvin’s clearly loved art and, after watching a video, drew a great sketch of a Mandalorian.

Tuesday’s problems included:

  • Math – The prior week Calvin had grumbled about doing math. Tuesday he was outright rebellious and spent the whole time allocated for it whining.
  • Exercise – The same thing happened with exercise. This concerned me as we didn’t have a lot of options for aerobic exercises in our house and I was worried that Calvin would become unhealthy.
  • Schedule – I learned that if I didn’t set an alarm for each “school period”, both Calvin and I would forget and he wouldn’t get through everything I had intended.
  • My Work – I was spending so much time trying to manage Calvin that I was having trouble concentrating on my paying job.

After supper I called a meeting with Jaeger and Calvin to discuss the school problems and request suggestions. Both Jaeger and Calvin thought it was completely unreasonable to have math first thing in the morning at 9:00 AM. I also compromised on exercise and told Calvin he didn’t need to come on the short walks with me but I still wanted him to do the lunch walk.

The prior Thursday we had ordered Calvin a chromebook computer. This was because we discovered that my old all-in-one desktop, which was adequate for basic internet connectivity, did not work for video conferencing. We had an external camera for the all-in-one but there weren’t any Windows 10 drivers. We had managed the first coding class by having Calvin login to two sessions: one on the computer so the teacher could see his screen and the other on the ipad so Calvin could talk and the teacher could see his face. However, it wasn’t ideal. Jaeger did some rush researching and determined that a Chromebook would probably meet all our needs and wasn’t excessively expensive. The Chromebook arrived on Tuesday and Calvin was very excited to have his own laptop computer. Jaeger set the computer with Calvin’s Google Family Link account as well as giving me a parent login for it.

Wednesday we started the revised schedule. Reading now became the first subject of the day which seemed to agree with Calvin better. At Calvin’s 10AM video conference, we started running into the limitations of the Family Link setup. Calvin was trying to join his class via Zoom when we discovered that child accounts couldn’t install apps or extensions. Jaeger investigated and verified the problem. He suggested having Calvin use the guest account to get around the problem temporarily which did seem to work, though it wasn’t ideal.

The Third Week
By the third week we had settled into a schedule that was roughly working and allowed Calvin to get some education while I also managed to do productive paid work. I relented on requiring him to take walks with me which also seemed to help his mood. Instead, I suggested he do some basic weight exercises while he watch YouTube. Not ideal but at least it was some level of movement.

For reading time, Calvin started reading The Complete Worst-case Scenario Survival Handbook. I was amused when Calvin pointed out that it had a section on Flu Pandemic. With the exception of masks2, the advice was exactly what everyone was recommending for the COVID-19 situation. I find it particularly amusing to see such a relevant section since previously Calvin had been reading about how to escape an alien abduction.

Thursday was Calvin’s birthday. Not good timing for a birthday. I decided to take the day off work and not require Calvin to do any school work. Instead, I tried to make the day as decadent as possible. We started the day with Chocolate waffles, topped with Nutella, whipped cream, and strawberries. After breakfast, we started watching the original Star Wars trilogy and had pizza for lunch. I had forgotten Calvin had coding class, which he wanted to attend, so he took a break from Star Wars for that. We we had a supper of fruit salad and cake and ended the evening by finishing up the original Star Wars trilogy. While I’m sure it’s not the birthday Calvin would have preferred, he seemed reasonably content with it.

Calvin and Julian eating chocolate waffles.

While I had been wrestling with figuring out how to make school work for Calvin, our au pair had been trying to figure out how to keep Julian entertained. Initially, they had been going to the playground but Seattle had made playgrounds off-limits the prior weekend. I invited him on my walks, and he’d come occasionally, but that still left a lot of time when Jaeger, Calvin, and I were occupied. He did a couple of FaceTime chats with his cousin. Our au pair also ended up playing what looked like endless Catan Junior games with Julian. I inquired of a mom’s group what other games we might try and ordered Sleeping Queens as well as Ticket to Ride: First Journey.

The Fourth Week
The Seattle School District had been very leery of providing online education during the school closure due to equity issues. In practice, this seems to have meant that how much education support was happening was very dependent on the school/teacher. On March 23, The Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction (OSPI) released revised guidelines saying that education had to continue during the closure. The Seattle School District came up with a plan that involved online education for those that were able and paper packets and TV lectures for those that were not. Calvin was quite miffed to discover that learning up to this point had been somewhat optional.

From our perspective, the school district’s change of plans didn’t really affect Calvin’s classes. His teacher was already doing roughly what they were recommending so she just made a few tweaks. The one big difference I noticed is that with so many users Schoology was much slower and was obviously having capacity issues. I tried having Calvin listen to a couple of the district recorded sessions. The teachers obviously were trying very hard, and I thought the production quality was pretty decent. However, Calvin didn’t find it engaging at all so I eventually gave up.

For some of the school subjects, such as reading time, I required Calvin to spend the entire time doing the assigned task. However, for other school work that had more finite assignments, I let him do other things until it was time for the next school subject. Calvin spent most of this extra time, and much of his middle-of-the-day freetime, playing games on the Scratch website that other users had coded.

We continued to try to figure out how to make the Google Family Link do what we needed. One of the biggest problem was that regular YouTube was blocked and only YouTube Kids3 was available. This works fine for some things, such as the YouTube art videos his teacher was linking to. However, it worked less well for many other YouTube videos she suggested he watch. Our best work around was either to have him watch them on the iPad min, or to log out of his account and login to the Chromebook guest account.

The Fifth Week
One of the advantages of both Washington and California having school at home is that suddenly many Google parents were testing out Family Link. Monday morning Jaeger let me know that we should now be able to install the official Zoom extension in Calvin’s profile.

My original schedule had evolved over time and by week five looked something like this:

  • 9:00 – Reading
  • 10:00 – Class Video Conference
  • 11:00 – Respond to class chat question
  • 11:15 – Freetime
  • 12:00 – Exercise (weights or step)
  • 12:30 – Freetime
  • 1:00 – Writing
  • 1:30 – Science
  • 2:30 – Math
  • 3:00 – Art
  • 3:30 – Freetime

While Calvin and I had settled into a reasonable daily schedule, Julian started getting more clingy. It finally occurred to me that, while our au pair was doing a fantastic job, Julian felt left out because everyone else in the family was “working”. After a disastrous Tuesday, where Julian spent the last hour of my working day sitting on my lap, I decided I needed another plan. I told Julian anytime he wanted to be in the office he’d have to do “school work”. Previously, I had loaded up a whole bunch of audiobooks and preschool apps on our old iPad and I removed the less educational and more game-like apps. So, when Julian visited us I’d either have him do something on the iPad, or draw a picture. That approach seemed to work ok.

I had initially tried the district’s recorded resources and decided they didn’t work for Calvin. However, his teacher assigned the Ecosystems video and worksheets so I had Calvin try them. Neither he nor I could muster much enthusiasm for them so I had him watch Netflix’s Our Planet instead. It wasn’t teaching exactly the same lesson but it did cover how everything is interrelated which I felt was roughly the Ecosystems module’s message.

The Sixth Week
Calvin had spring break from April 13-17 which was a little weird. I wanted to keep Calvin occupied so I came up with an idea to have a “books to movie” week. The idea being that he’d read the book and then we’d watch the movie. That didn’t quite work out. I also decided to only work half days that week so I could spend more times with the kids, particularly Julian. That didn’t really work out either. I was hoping to convince Julian to go down to the Gas Works Park parking lot and practice riding his peddle bike but I never was able to convince him. So, it wasn’t a terrible week but wasn’t a particularly great week either.

The Seventh Week
I was relieved when spring break ended and Calvin went “back” to school. I had been a bit nervous about whether or not Calvin would be resistant to doing school work again but he didn’t spend too much time grumbling. I think he enjoyed being able to videoconference with his class again. His teacher changed the schedule so Monday, Wednesday, and Fridays were all-class video conferences. However, Tuesdays and Thursdays she would break the class into smaller groups. During one of the small video conferences they talked about a new assignment where they were suppose to write a “Farewall Letter to Jamestown”. It sounds like they were suppose to emulate older speech patterns and I heard Calvin say “Huzzah!” a fair amount.

Julian’s preschool decided it would start doing some Zoom conferences and they sent a schedule out which worked out to about 1/2 hour of video conference a day. As this was the first week there were some bumps. I’m not sure how much education Julian got out of the experience but it did break up his day a bit and I believe he enjoyed having a video conference just like everyone else in the family.

My main focus during this time has been to try to keep Calvin on track with reading, math, and exercise. I view reading and math as fundamental to the rest of education and exercise as fundamental to a healthy life. I felt ok about Calvin’s math and reading but still wasn’t particularly comfortable with the amount of exercise Calvin was getting. He was doing some but I didn’t feel like it was enough. However, this week we finally had an exercise breakthrough. I can’t remember whether Calvin or I suggested it. However, he started walking on the treadmill while watching YouTube. Thus entertained, he averaged at least an hour of walking a day which made me feel better about his activity level.

Calvin has been enjoying the art assignments every day and continues to put his own unique spin on them. For example, Calvin’s teacher suggested his class draw a glass of lemonade. Calvin drew the glass and then expanded it to show a zombie holding the glass.
Zombie holding a lemonade glass.

In Conclusion
On April 6, The Seattle Public Schools announced students would continue to learn from home for the rest of the school year. As a result, we have quite a few weeks left in this new weird school at home experience. It’s certainly not my first choice of schooling for Calvin but it’s the only option we have at the moment. All in all, we have our ups and downs but so far seem to be surviving.

  1. This resulted in many desperate people flocking to the library on Friday. It even got national coverage with U.S. News reporting that we had 8 times our normal Friday checkouts (https://www.usnews.com/news/cities/articles/2020-03-17/coronavirus-closes-libraries-in-seattle-around-the-nation).
  2. The book recommended wearing masks. However, as of March 25 public health officials were still discouraging healthy people from wearing masks in order to save them for sick people and healthcare workers.
  3. Among other reasons, Calvin doesn’t like YouTube Kids because shortcuts don’t work the way they do with regular YouTube, including the very standard spacebar key to pause and restart videos.

Work and School from Home: The Beginning

Wow. This month has been surreal.

On Monday, February 24 I woke up with a sore throat. By that evening, I had a feeling I was getting sick. I woke up in the night and took my temperature. It was 99 which is high for me1. I emailed my manager I was sick and went back to bed. Jaeger was gone to Mountain View. However, our au pair was already scheduled to start at 7:00, because that is usually when I leave for work, so I didn’t have to get up to get the kids ready for school. We knew there had been a case of COVID-19 in Washington but, at the time, they were saying only people who had contact with people from Wuhan were at risk. By the end of the day I was feeling better and didn’t have a fever anymore.

On Wednesday, February 25, my symptoms had morphed into coughing and a runny nose. However, I had no fever2 and believed my energy was back so I went to work. I also went to work on Thursday but at that point COVID-19 was starting to make a bigger splash and people were obviously nervous when I coughed. So, I requested working from home on Friday.

In general, my library is not supportive of working from home. However, the IT department is a little more flexible because it is very useful to do some things on off-hours and weekends and no one wants to spend time commuting on a weekend if they don’t have to. However, there are still rules. I can request to work from home for one day in the future. I cannot request to work from home for multiple days at a time. At the beginning of my day I have to send out what I’m planning to work on. At the end of the day, I have to send a detailed3 report of what I actually worked on. While the rules seem excessive and can sometimes be inconvenient, I’ve never had my work from home request declined. Though, I usually don’t request it more than one day a week.

Over the weekend, King County Health Department reported it’s first COVID-19 death. Library employees started expressing concerns about everyone getting together for staff day, which was planned for the following Tuesday.

On Monday, March 2, I was still coughing and people were getting even more worried about COVID-19. I once again requested to work from home and it was granted. The intranet thread about COVID-19 and staff day concerns had exploded. At the end of day, administration had posted that Staff Day was still on for Tuesday but anyone who felt sick should stay home. I was feeling fine but still coughing a lot which I did not think would go over well around large crowds of people. So, I requested to work from home and once again, it was granted.

My cough had become less noticeable, especially if I constantly sucked hard candy, so I went in to work on Wednesday. Also on Wednesday, the King County Healthy department said that anyone who could work from home should. However, my work didn’t support working from home during the Seattle Squeeze so I doubted they’d pay attention this time either. As a result, I went to work on Thursday. On Thursday, the city sent out a memo saying that employees were encouraged to work from home following the alternative work arrangement process that had been put in place during the Seattle Squeeze the previous year. Also on Thursday, our IT manager became increasingly concerned about the COVID-19 situation and said that anyone who could work from home should consider it. Except, this wasn’t supported library-wide yet so we still needed go through the normal process of requesting to work from home. Thus I requested, and was granted, permission to work from home on Friday.

Late evening Wednesday Jaeger’s work had sent out an email saying that Seattle employees should strongly consider working from home. Except Jaeger didn’t see it till he arrived at work on Thursday. Before he left, his employer had increased the strength of their work from home recommendation and said that anyone who wanted to take their equipment, such as monitors, home could do so. That decided Jaeger so he packed his desk into his car to take home.

Thursday is our normal date night. I get off work before Jaeger and usually walk to his work which is about a 1/2 hour walk. There were already signs that the big tech employers were strongly encouraging their employees to stay home. While people were still on the street, there was significantly less traffic than usual and the closer I got to South Lake Union, the sparser traffic became. On my walk, I passed a Girl Scout trying to sell cookies. Almost no one was going past her table, which was completely full looking. I stopped and bought some Thin Mints, even though I almost never buy Girl Scout cookies. I continued on my way and passed an salon that did eyebrow waxings. Two employees were sitting with nothing to do. I had been thinking of getting my eyebrows waxed for a while but I haven’t found a regular place in Seattle yet. So, I popped in and got my eyebrows waxed.

I met Jaeger and we went to eat at a vegetarian Chinese restaurant. The fascinating thing about this restaurant is they didn’t appear SDA. However, they used Loma Linda and Worthington fake meats in their food. Nowadays there are so many fake meat options, including amazing choices from Taiwan4, that I don’t expect to see traditional SDA fake meat. While eating, we discussed the prospect of both of us working from home for an extended period of time. Jaeger almost always goes into work5 and I don’t normally telecommute more than once a week, if that. Fortunately, since Jaeger’s employer let him take his monitor home, we weren’t going to have a monitor crisis. However, we decided we did need some additional supplies and so headed to Fred Meyer.

The store was an interesting experience. They had most of what we were looking for but some weird gaps. I had groceries delivered the prior Monday and my shopper said he couldn’t find any frozen mangoes, so I decided to see if any were back in stock. The frozen vegetable/fruit aisle had been decimated. I knew people were hoarding toilet paper, hand sanitizer, and soap. I didn’t realize that frozen vegetables were also a thing. Interestingly, I did pass several bottles of soap6.

Once home, I started reconfiguring the office. Our office doubles as our guest bedroom, and up-till-now, may have gotten more use as a guest bedroom. I prefer working from our bedroom because there’s more natural light and the view is better. However, since Jaeger wakes up later than me, it made sense that he would work in the bedroom. The desk in the bedroom was too small for Jaeger’s two giant monitors so we swapped it with the larger desk that was in the kitchen. Both looked better in their new positions so we probably should have done that all along. I surveyed the downstairs office and decided additional lighting would improve it. However, we didn’t have any extra lighting. I tried stringing Christmas lights and it did improve the vibe, but didn’t offer much additional lighting. I tried to convince myself I didn’t need more light but that lasted only a day after which I ordered another light from Amazon7. We also only had one office chair, and I contemplated buying another, but eventually decided I didn’t want to spend even more money and settled on using a dining room chair.

I got permission to work from home Friday-Tuesday. On Wednesday, March 11, I went back into work because I had a couple of in-person meetings which hadn’t been cancelled yet. Plus, I had a couple of library holds to pick up which were going to expire soon. Truthfully, that may have been the main reason I went in. The IT office was empty. Eventually, some people drifted in. At around 10am, administration posted an announcement to our intranet saying that they realized people who could work from home should and so they were going to start determining who might be able to work from home.

Our IT manager sent out a link to the livestream of Governor Inslee’s press conference about COVID-19 so I listened to it with one ear while I continued to work. As expected, he announced that gatherings of more than 25 people were now prohibited in King County. However, he also said that schools should start making plans for what to do if they were shut down in the next couple of days. At that, I started paying more attention and messaged Jaeger that we should come up with a contingency plan for if schools were going to be closed. Jaeger was not listening to the press conference but forwarded me a tweet from the governor saying he was not currently calling for schools to close. However, listening to the actual speech, I was pretty convinced it was a matter of when, not if.

Two hours later, The Seattle Public Schools announced they were closing for at least two weeks. Right about the time Jaeger sent me the link to the announcement, I heard some loud exclamation from my supervisor’s office (my supervisor is parent to four school-aged kids). I went to my supervisor’s office, we exchanged stunned looks, and then I took my lunch break and went down to the children’s section of the library and checked out 25 books. I probably would have checked out more but that’s all I could fit in my backpack and spare grocery bag I had with me and I was taking the bus back home.

Our IT manager strongly recommended that anyone still in the office that could work from home go home. So, after checking out books, I headed back home and finished the day working from home. Though, I spent most of the rest of the afternoon in a daze.

  1. My normal temp is 97.9. The last time I had a fever was probably sometime before Julian was born.
  2. I’ve been trained to believe one should go to school/work unless one is vomiting or has a fever. Obviously, this is not the protocol I’m following now.
  3. As in, I can’t say I worked on tickets, I have to note the ticket numbers I worked on and say what I did.
  4. I know that Taiwan’s vegetarian history predates that of SDAs, but SDA is the one I grew up with.
  5. For being a tech employer with amazing conferencing tools, they’re weirdly antithetical to working from home.
  6. Which I did not get because I usually get the giant refill containers of soap which was still mostly full.
  7. A couple of months ago I bought a light for Julian’s room. He has an overhead light but it weirdly is in a corner of his room which makes for odd shadows. I like this light because it’s a warm LED and also has three brightness settings. Julian likes it on the lowest setting when he sleeps.

Carkeek Park Playground, Seattle, WA

A couple of weeks ago Jaeger and I took the kids to Carkeek Park. From a playground perspective, the highlight of the park is definitely the Salmon slide.
Julian sitting in the mouth of the Salmon slide.

Jaeger has been talking about the Salmon slide at Carkeek Park every since he saw it on a walk. However, the kids and I haven’t made it there till now. It’s in a wooded section so it’s nice and shaded on hot days. An interpretive sign says the the Salmon slide, and surrounding other features, “represents the the interconnectedness of the lowland forest watershed environment that is home to many creatures in the Puget Sound.” In addition to the Salmon slide, it also has a pretend tidepools
Pretend tide pool.
as well as caves.
Julian holding sticks coming out of a concrete cave.
Another concrete cave.

There is also traditional playground equipment. It’s not as unique as the Salmon Slide but the kids still enjoyed climbing around on it.
Traditional 5-12 year old playground equipment.

Both of our kids loved the large teeter-totter.
Calvin on the middle of a teeter-totter.

On the west side of the park there is a piano-inspired crosswalk that then leads to a pedestrian bridge over the railroad tracks. The bridge is a great spot to watch for trains.
piano_crossing_walk_sm

From there, families can walk down to the beach.
View of beach from pedestrian bridge.
After playing on the beach for a bit we ended the day by taking a walk on the paths to get to Piper’s Orchard.

While this park doesn’t have the largest playground equipment around, it has so many other things that it’s easy to spend the whole day entertaining the kids.

Summary:

Features 5-12 playground equipment, large teeter-totter (seats 4), double slide, corkscrew climber, spiral slide, steering wheel, chain net ladder, spring rider, concrete tidepools, concrete caves, concrete Salmon slide, swings, wooded paths
Surface Material Wood chips (traditional playground), poured rubber and dirt (nature playground)
Restrooms Yes
Water fountain Yes
Shade The nature themed playground is shaded from the trees. The traditional playground doesn’t have much shade.
Picnic area Yes, lots of picnic tables close to traditional playground structure.
Parking Several parking lots. However, I suspect parking can be hard to find on nice days.
Coffee None.
Pros
  • Unique playground.
  • Lots of additional things nearby: grassy field, watching trains, beach, orchard, paths.
Cons
  • Really busy on nice days.


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Luuwit View Park, Portland, OR

For Memorial Weekend Jaeger went to run the Bolder Boulder in Colorado so I decided it was another good chance to visit Grandma in Portland. We went down Saturday and checked in to the hotel. When booking, I made sure to get one with a pool so after checking in I let the kids play in the pool for a bit. Then we went to Grandma’s house for supper. On Sunday, the kids had more pool time before we met Grandma and my Aunt for lunch. After lunch I looked around for a nearby park because I thought the kids needed outside time and it was a beautiful day. This led us to Luuwit View Park.

The park is pretty impressive. It’s wide open and spread out. On the west side of the park there is a sculpture mound that culminates in the “Bird” sculpture by Mauricio Robalino.

Bird sculpture by Mauricio Robalino.

In the middle there’s amphitheater seating facing a large shelter as well as a large field. When we were there the shelter had picnic tables in it but it also looked like it could be set up for performances.

Large shelter with amphitheater seating.

The east side of the park contains the play areas1. There are three main play area. The first is for smaller kids, probably preschool age. The equipment looks a little advanced for toddlers, though I did see toddlers wandering around gleefully grabbing on to the bottom parts of the equipment. In the middle was a medium sized net orb for kids to climb on.

Julian climbing on the medium-sized net orb.

To one side was a rubber lined hill that included a double slide.

Julian and Calvin slide down a double slide.

There’s also a mini-merry-go-round. It looks like it could comfortable fit two, maybe three, but while we were there at least five teenagers somehow managed to climb on at once.

Julian on the mini merry-go-round.

This area also had a little spinner.

Calvin spinning.

Along the path to the next play area there were several musical installments. One was a very large set of vertical chimes kids could bang on. There were also two other installments, one was like a xylophone and the other smaller chimes.

Calvin bangs on a set of vertical chimes.

The next play area had a larger net orb that was surrounded by a sloped rubber wall. I expected Calvin would love this, as he always navigates to net climbing. However, he didn’t spend as much time here as I expected. It could have been because he wanted to go back to the hotel for more swimming.

The larger climbing orb.

Julian did enjoy climbing up and down the surrounding wall.

Julian stands on top of a rubber hill.

I think the highlight of the play area was a sand pit that looks like it has a water feature in summer. Julian enjoyed the sand as is but I bet it’s glorious when the water is turned on.

Julian playing in the sand pit.

The sand pit was surrounded by a small shaded arbor tunnel. It looked the perfect size for preschoolers and toddlers to run through. However, it also provided a little shade to adults if they wanted to sit down in the path.

Julian exiting the arbor tunnel.

The park design also says there’s a water feature in the area. However, it probably wasn’t turned on while we were there and I completely missed it.

This park was fun to visit and does have lovely views. My only caveat is it’s hard to see multiple play areas at once so if you have multiple small kids it may be hard to keep track of them with only one parent.

Summary:

Features Double slide, medium-sized net climbing orb, toddler swings, larger net climbing orb, mini merry-go-round, spinner cup, rubber climbing hill, sand pit, water feature (in summer?), tall vertical chimes, outdoor xylophone, chimes, tunnel arbor.
Surface Material Rubber and fake grass.
Restrooms Yes, multiple family restrooms.
Water fountain Yes
Shade Not much shade. There are trees but they are very young. There is a shelter in the middle of the park.
Picnic area Yes.
Parking Parking lot.
Coffee None.
Pros
  • Big spread out park.
  • Sand pit looks like it will be lots of fun in summer.
  • Sturdy looking musical chimes.
Cons
  • Hard to supervise multiple play areas at the same time.


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  1. It turns out there is also a north east section which I didn’t notice while there that contains (or will contain) a teen area, basketball courts, picnic area, and community garden.

Discovery Park Playground, Seattle, WA

A couple weeks ago the kids and I finally ventured over to Discovery Park. The playground at Discovery Park is pretty new. According to this ParentMap article it was installed at the end of 2017. It’s a really nice playground that has something for everyone.
View of large and small play structures
We parked in the Visitor Center East Parking Lot and then walked down the path on the east side of the visitor’s center to get to the playground. The playground is lovely and is surrounded by large trees. In fact, one of the critiques in the ParentMap article is that there’s so much shade that you may need extra layers in the cooler and wetter months as well as towels to dry off the slides.

In addition to nice, but fairly traditional, play structures the playground also had a lot of climbing options.
Rope bridge and stacked climbing disks.
Julian particularly loved climbing up the stacked climbing disks.
Julian on the climbing disc.
Though he also enjoyed the rope bridge.
Julian on net bridge.
Calvin’s favorite activity was definitely the zip line.
Calvin on the zip line
They had some interesting wooden half arch bridges that Julian enjoyed scrambling over.
Julian scrambling over half arch  wooden bridge.
The large play structure was very tall. At the top it has a window that kids can look through.
Julian looking down from the top level of play structure.
The structure also had a lot of different panels that the kids could play with.
Julian looking through gears panel.
Overall, it’s a great playground and definitely worth visiting again, particularly on a hot day when one wants shade.

Summary:

Features 2-5 playground equipment, 5-12 playground equipment, tall slide, infant swing (2), regular swing (1), swing with back (1), net bridge, double Bobble Rider (mini seesaw), bongo drum panel, small wooden ladder, curved rope climber, spinner, double slide, small curved slide, marble panel, gear panel, rain sound wheel panel, ring-a-bell panel, SwiggleKnots™ Bridge, small fake rocks to climb, Disc Net™ Climber, steering wheel panel, half moon arch
Surface Material Wood chips
Restrooms Yes, but not close. There’s a porta potty halfway between the playground and the visitor’s center.
Water fountain No
Shade Lots of tall trees surrounding the playground. May still get sun when it’s directly overhead.
Picnic area Yes, several picnic tables close to playground structure.
Parking Parking at visitor’s center. Might be crowded on nice days and weekends.
Coffee None.
Pros
  • Big playground with lots of things for every age.
  • A lot of climbing options.
Cons
  • Restrooms too far for kids in the middle of potty training.


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Westmoreland Park Nature Play, Portland, OR

A couple of weeks ago we decided to go down to Portland to visit my grandmother. We decided to stay at a hotel downtown near OMSI1. I was delight to discover that our Pacific Science Center membership included a reciprocal agreement with OMSI, along with other science center/museums, for free general admission. We all went our first day. However, on our second day Calvin wanted to go back but Julian wanted to go to a playground instead. Several years ago my mom sent me an article about a trend toward natural playgrounds in Portland. I had been wanting to visit one for years but the timing was never convenient. However, Julian’s wish to go to a playground seemed like a good time to try one out.
Natural Playground with slide, rock towers, and logs.
Julian and I hopped into the car and, trusting Google maps, successfully found the Westmoreland park. There didn’t seem to be a parking lot but street parking was adequate, at least for a drizzly day2. The first thing we saw was a grassy area with a bunch of picnic tables.
picnic tables
From the picnic area we crossed a bridge to get to the play area.
Bridge between picnic area and playground.

View from bridge

View from the bridge.


Julian immediately headed for a group of logs installed horizontal to the ground.
Julian crawling on logs.
He was so proud when he was able to stand up and walk on them.
Julian walking on the log.
These logs led to a tower of rocks for kids to climb.
Julian climbing rocks.
There were a variety of other wood climbing options but they were too big for Julian. I think Calvin would have enjoyed them if he had been there.
Wood climbing tower.
Another wood climbing option.
They also had some logs propped against a small hill. Julian seemed to enjoy climbing them but they didn’t keep his attention as much as the horizontal logs did.
Julian climbing up logs.

There was also a sand area which Julian enjoyed.
Sand pit with toys and stumps.
It looks like in summer there may be an option to play with water in the sand which would be fantastic.
Water Spouts.

Overall, it was a fun playground and a lovely park to visit. However, I’m not convinced the “natural” play area has any innate advantage over the more traditional playground.

Summary:

Features Many climbing opportunities on logs, stumps, and stone, small slide, sand area, water area (I think) in summer.
Surface Material Wood chips
Restrooms Yes
Water fountain Yes
Shade Lovely mature trees that look like they might provide a nice amount of shade.
Picnic area Yes, though main picnic area isn’t within site of the play area.
Parking Street parking.
Coffee None.
Pros
  • Natural aesthetic makes for a nice change.
  • Large sand area
Cons
  • Not much for really small kids.


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  1. Still my favorite science museum.
  2. Contrary to what the pictures show, the park had a lot of people in it. I was just trying to avoid taking pictures of other people. This is one reason I haven’t done a post about Gas Works Playground yet. It’s always mobbed and impossible to avoid pictures of other children.

North Transfer Center Playground, Seattle, WA

One of the things I like about our current house is we live within walking distance of three playgrounds. The North Transfer Station playground recently re-opened1. It’s nature themed so Julian refers to it as the “tree playground”.
Main playground equipment
The main play structure looks like a tree fort. Complete with little critters hiding in the tree.
Raccoon peaking from tree trunk.
Julian enjoyed walking up and down the climbing logs.
Climbing logs up play equipment.
There were also fake tree stumps dividing the main play structure from the climbing net. The stumps were handy for the parents to sit on.
Tree stumps.
The logs were fun to balance on.
Logs to balance on.

Across the road, on the transfer station side, there’s a variety of equipment for stretching and some strength exercises. Technically, they’re not for kids but Julian enjoyed them anyway.
Pull up bar.

Balance Equipment
Sit up Equipment.

Overall, it’s a fun park and Julian has requested we visit several times since our initial visit.

Summary:

Features 5-12 playground equipment, slide, log climber, ladder, Centipede Climber, talk tube, periscopes, net climber, logs to walk on
Exercise Equipment (on other side of the road) Springer, bench, stepper, pull-ups, sit-ups, stretch
Surface Material Mainly wood chips and some poured rubber
Restrooms No
Water fountain No
Shade Not much.
Picnic area A couple of small picnic tables.
Parking Street parking.
Coffee About a block from The Essential Baking Company.
Pros
  • A nice basic playground.
Cons
  • No bathrooms.
  • Not much for really small kids.


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  1. It had been closed due to substandard initial work.

Webster Park, Seattle

Back in November Julian and I went to the Webster Park Playground which is near our rental house in Ballard. It’s right next door to the old Webster school1. I loved the bright colors of the playground equipment.
Brightly colored play structure.
This playground looks primarily designed for ages 5-122. There wasn’t a playground structure designed for 2-5 year-olds. However, they did have swings for both young and older kids. In addition, there was a sandbox with some community toys!
Sandbox with toys.
Julian particularly loved climbing on the net rope strung between two large climbing boulders.
Climbing net and rocks.
The playground is “interactive”. I didn’t try it, but there’s an app you can download from Biba to use with the playground.
Biba app sign with info on how to download the app to play with it in the playground.
The park also has a basketball court, grass lawn, and a sundial.
Sundial.

Summary:

Features 5-12 playground equipment, bucket swings, regular swings, molded plastic seat swing (without straps), telescope, drums, interactive Biba app, wheel panel, gears panel, rope ladder, tunnel, climber, double slide, curved slide, climbing rocks, rope net, number panel, sandbox, community sand toys
Surface Material Wood chips
Restrooms No
Water fountain Yes
Shade Leafy trees. (Not sure if they would shade the play equipment in summer).
Picnic area No.
Parking Currently there’s a parking lot by the old school. That will disappear if the school opens with its current proposal.
Coffee No.
Pros
  • A variety of options for older kids.
  • Sandbox!
Cons
  • No bathrooms.


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  1. This use to house the Nordic Heritage Museum which recently moved to a new location.
  2. With the caveat that my kids start playing on the 5-12 equipment by 2 1/2 or before . . .

Update: Wallingford Playfield, Seattle

Update
I’m doomed. I just read on the Wallyhood blog that Wallingford Playfield’s playground is now closed. Given my past experience with construction projects I have no faith it will re-open before we move or my kids are too old to appreciate it1. That said, the proposed play structures do look very nice.

Original
Last 4th of July I was by myself because the kids were with Jaeger’s parents and Jaeger was still in San Francisco. I headed to Gas Works Park to view the festivities but it was a little crowded for my taste so I decided to wander around and see what houses were for sale. I like walking around neighborhoods because you see things that aren’t as obvious when driving. On my quest, I ended up walking through Wallingford Playfield and was delighted to see that it had a large wading pool.

We ended up buying a house within walking distance of Wallingford Playfield2 and, on one of our numerous visits to the house, the kids and I dropped by the playground.

plaground-structure2_small

Wallingford Playfield has a traditional-style playground. It has both a very nice structure for older kids as well as a smaller structure for younger kids.
Play structure for 2-5 year olds.

Julian enjoyed moving the rings back and forth on the smaller structure.
Three bars with rings that can be moved back and forth.

Calvin was excited to see that the playground has a traditional merry-go-round. It also has a traditional tire swing.
merry-go-round picture

Julian loved the digger. Unlike most playground diggers, this one isn’t in a sandbox. It’s just digging the surrounding dirt/mud. Julian also loved climbing the rocks that surrounded the play area.
Julian using the digger to dig mud.

The wading pool had been drained for the season but I’m looking forward to taking the kids there next summer.
wading-pool_small

Summary:

Features 5-12 playground equipment, bucket swings, regular swings, molded plastic seat swing (without straps), tire swing, 2-5 year-old play structure, merry-go-round, digger, rocks, trees, large half-circle climbing structure, circular monkey bars, seasonal wading pool, climbing wall, curved slide, tunnel slide, ladder, fireman pole, tunnel, chain net, steering wheel panel, corkscrew climber, simplified abacus panel, small curved slide, bridge, double slide, tennis courts, soccer fields
Surface Material Mostly wood chips. Parts are surrounded by poured rubber
Restrooms Yes
Water fountain Yes
Shade Leafy trees. The larger structure has a roof on some sections and underneath is fairly shady.
Picnic area Yes, multiple picnic tables.
Parking Street Parking
Coffee No.
Pros
  • Nicely balanced play structures. Something for every age.
  • Has both merry-go-round and tire swing
Cons
  • No coffee.


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  1. Right before we moved to San Francisco the Balboa Park Pool closed for renovation and is still closed.
  2. Jaeger claims I think everything is within walking distance, which is somewhat true. However, this is also within walking distance for Julian.

Roxhill Park, Seattle

Ok . . . it’s been a while. So much stuff has happened and I didn’t have the time or energy to record most of it. However, I took my kids to Roxhill Park today1 and I got inspired to do another playground post. The last one was when Julian was a baby and we still lived in Boulder, CO.

We went to Roxhill Park on the recommendation of the Seattle Family Adventures book. It’s down in West Seattle so driving was the only practical way to get there for us. Google Maps took us to the southern side of the park. However, we did find both the playground and parking lot located near the northwest corner.

South side of playground with playground structures and swings.

Roxhill Park has two castle structures. One for ages 5-12 and one for 2-5. The smaller castle was cute and had a small double slide.

Small structure with double slide.

The structure for older kids was much bigger. Though, it also only had one slide.

5-12 Castle Playground Structure

While this playground does have things for smaller kids to do, it excels at climbing options for older kids. On the north side of the playground there is a large dome-like structure that has various types of climbing nets for kids to climb.

North side of playground. Shows the climbing options.

Then, there’s another structure that has plastic climbing holds to scramble up.
Structure with plastic climbing holds.

It also has more traditional playground equipment such as monkey bars and hanging rings. Julian particularly liked the balance poles.
Julian crossing the balance poles.

As I mentioned, the playground does have some things for smaller kids. In addition to the small play structure, there are also swings for all ages as well as a nice sand play area.

Summary:

Features 5-12 playground equipment, curved tunnel slide, corkscrew climber, money bars, bucket swings, regular swings, molded plastic seat swing (without straps), 2-5 year old play structure, small double slide, sand, small climbing wall with rope, rope climbing structures, other climbing structures, new-style merry-go-round (seats 4), balance poles, small bridges, fireman pole (attached to rope structure), rope ladder, skate park, ball fields
Surface Material Wood chips
Restrooms Yes
Water fountain Yes
Shade Leafy trees. Depending on the time of day, significant parts of the playground are in shade.
Picnic area Yes, multiple picnic tables.
Parking Parking lot.
Coffee2 Starbucks in nearby Target.
Pros
  • Really nice climbing options
  • Target (with embedded Starbucks) one street over. Convenient for emergency diaper pickups and coffee.
  • Sand play area.
Cons
  • Not as much stuff for little kids to do compared to other playgrounds.


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  1. Yes, we now live in a Seattle. Everyone is still a little surprised.
  2. This is a new category for Jaeger.